Divorce is hard for anyone experiencing the end of a marriage, but it is particularly difficult for those who have been dependent on their spouse for part or all of their marriage. The idea of leaving when your ex is the one earning income or with their name on most accounts can seem terrifying.
Long-lasting marriages that end in divorce near retirement age or after the children have left the house can have adverse financial consequences for the lower-earning or financially dependent spouse that persist for the rest of their life.
Thankfully, there are ways for dependent spouses to plan and fund a retirement after a divorce. What are some of the possible options available?
Asking to share a retirement account or pension
While you may not have accrued your own retirement savings through employment, your spouse likely did. You may have a right to ask the courts to divide your spouse’s pension or retirement account.
At least the amounts that they earned or saved during the marriage could be part of your property division arrangement with your ex. Although it will still mean retiring with less than you may have hoped, you will still have some savings to help you cover retirement expenses.
Claim Social Security benefits
Retirement accounts aren’t the only thing you fun while actively working. You also contribute to Social Security. If you left the workforce years ago or if you have worked part-time, you have likely earned far less than your spouse and accrued fewer Social Security benefits.
You may be able to make a claim against some of what your ex accrued. Such a claim will not diminish their benefits but can augment yours.
Ask for alimony
You sacrificed years of income and career development to stay home. Your ex benefited from all of that work because they could focus on their career. You are likely not in a position where you could go out and find a job that pays a living wage right after the divorce, especially if you are already close to retirement age.
The courts may agree that you deserve alimony and could award you routine payments from your ex for a fixed amount of time. In some cases, you could receive those payments for the rest of your life.
Exploring options for supporting yourself in retirement can help you feel more confident about filing for divorce.