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Retirement could be the cause of divorce for some couples

A recent survey has found that many couples disagree about retirement, which may explain grey divorce.

Most people are looking forward to the prospect of leaving the workday grind behind and being able to settle into retirement. However, for some couples, retirement could be the moment they realize that their marriage is no longer functioning or that they have serious disagreements with each other about how to spend retirement. As the Washington Post reports, a recent survey found that one third of couples don't agree about the lifestyle they want to lead in retirement. That disagreement could help explain the increase in divorce among older Americans.

Difference come to the fore in retirement

When raising children and working fulltime jobs, it is easy for couples to overlook differences in opinion they may have. However, during retirement those differences are far harder to ignore and, for many people, far harder to tolerate. The survey, done by Fidelity Investments, found that a third of couples disagree on retirement plans. Such disagreements can cover the age at which each spouse plans on retiring to what each spouse wants to do in retirement. One spouse, for example, might dream of travelling the world while the other spouse is content to stick closer to home and focus on their gardening.

Such disagreements may explain why divorce is becoming so much more common for older Americans. As Bloomberg reports, the divorce rate for those aged 50 and over has more than doubled since 1990, despite divorces falling or remaining level for all other age groups.

Retirements put at risk?

Divorcing later in life has both benefits and risks. Thanks to longer lifespans, most people who are in unhappy marriages and divorce in their 50s or 60s can still reasonably expect to live at least a couple more decades with the freedom they may have previously craved.

However, divorce is a major undertaking and it can wreak havoc on one's finances. Many people going into a divorce are unaware of which assets belong to them or which ones may benefit them the most in the long-run. A pension is a marital asset. Any portion of a pension, 401k, annuity or other retirement benefit that has been acquired during the marriage is subject to equitable distribution. For example, in most cases retirement benefits that were earned during the marriage will be divided by the court even if only one spouse was working during the course of the marriage. Sometimes retirement benefits may be offset by other assets such as a home, so one party will keep some or all of their retirement benefits and the other will keep the house.

Getting help in divorce

In almost all divorces, there are no do-overs when it comes to a settlement. That is why anybody considering a divorce needs to talk to a divorce attorney for help. An attorney can advise you about how to negotiate a settlement that best protects your interests so you know what to expect when you retire.