When people are relying on a pension or Social Security, there’s never going to be enough to duplicate the marital lifestyle, Maggio says. “At least if you’re not in retirement you get a shot at working hard, putting in a few more years, and getting back to where you were. At 65, you’re too old to recover,” she said.
It doesn’t help that the most valuable asset people have is often the marital home, and these days, either its value has dropped, it can’t be sold, or it’s just too difficult to value, if one partner wants to buy the other out.
Rather than divorce, the better option at this age, says Lisa Marie Vari, a divorce attorney with offices in Pittsburgh and Miami, is to live in separate houses and come up with a separation agreement. It’s not as catastrophic on the finances, she says.
“For people of average or lower income in retirement, divorcing as an elderly person is about the worst financial decision you could make,” Vari says.
If they do decide to divorce, she strongly recommends trying to settle such cases out of court. For instance in California, there are about a dozen factors that a court can take into consideration when making an award of support: what is everyone’s income and what will it look like divvied up. If there’s a disparity between the two, there’s likely going to be an alimony obligation. And if you’re married for more than 10 years, the rule of thumb is that spousal support continues until death or the receiver of the support remarries. That can be a problem for someone who’s living on retirement income.
Divorcing after retirement? Here are 7 tips to facilitate the process:
1. Protect your assets early on. If you’re marrying near retirement age, enter into a pre-nuptial agreement. If you’re already married, enter into a post-nuptial. If possible, keep assets and inheritances in the name of party who brought them to the marriage.