When people decide to divorce later in life, they may have particular concerns about their financial future. One of the most significant aspects of “gray divorce” can be the distribution of retirement funds. These distributions are increasingly common, especially as the divorce rate for people over 50 has more than doubled over the past two decades. These divorces can be substantially different from those between younger people. In many cases, the split is more amicable, and issues like child support and custody are unlikely to be significant.
However, property division issues like the distribution of retirement funds can be a major concern. Each partner may need to make changes to increase his or her own retirement investments after the divorce is finalized, especially if he or she is close to retirement age. In addition, it’s very important to follow proper procedure when preparing for the division of these funds. If errors are made, they can be costly as people may be hit with expensive and unnecessary taxes or penalties as a result.
In order to divide a 401(k) in a divorce, a qualified domestic relations order, or QDRO, must be obtained from the court. This type of court order is delivered to the plan administrator and orders a specific division of the qualified plan. This allows a transfer of these funds to a plan in the name of the other divorcing spouse. Individual Retirement Accounts, or IRAs, are handled differently; these distributions can be dealt with by including the agreed-upon division in the divorce decree.
Divorcing after the age of 50 can require extra attention to the financial matters that arise with the end of a marriage. A family law attorney may work with a divorcing spouse to advocate for his or her interests, protect key assets and strive to achieve a fair settlement in the property division process.