Financial Security after Divorce; Tips Women Need to Know
Divorce is almost never an easy thing, regardless of who initiated it. Even in a “friendly” divorce there are still a lot of things to hash out, and one of the things that is easy to overlook is how a divorce will effect a women’s financial situation after retirement.
Once divorced, a woman’s financial situation most likely will change, and in many cases it changes drastically during the divorce process as well. So while there are already lots of things to think about during the divorce such as child support, alimony, who gets the house and who gets which car, retirement benefits earned during the marriage should not be left out of the picture.
A woman, especially a stay-at-home mom or a woman who supported her husband while he was in school, is entitled to a percentage of his retirement benefits after a divorce (laws regarding how much, how and when it’s paid, etc. vary from state to state) and should not be forgotten when dividing the marital property.
There are other things to think about as well. An article on expertbeacon.com (“Women: plan for retirement and secure your future after a divorce”) gives a comprehensive list of do’s and don’ts regarding how to make sure finances don’t unravel after the divorce and how to make sure we retire comfortably.
Here are a few of them:
- Determine your retirement goals as a self-reliant woman. Determining your goals is important because many of us are working past the official retirement age. Plus, the age for Social Security eligibility has changed, so it’s good to know whether you can collect benefits at 65 or if we have to wait until you are 67 (see another article on wiserwoman.org, “Social Security And Divorce: What You Need To Know” for more information regarding Social Security benefits).
- Disinherit your ex-husband. It’s important to be sure the ex is off all beneficiary listings (retirement, life insurance, etc.); even if divorced, if he’s listed as a beneficiary, he’s entitled to it.
- Find a financial advisor with experience working with divorced clients. Think about getting some financial advice. Since your financial needs as a divorced woman is very different than those of a married woman, a financial adviser who’s versed in those needs is a must.
- Fund retirement accounts to the maximum if you are over 50. Many people don’t realize that after the age of 50, you are able to deposit more into your retirement funds. Make use of this if they’re currently underfunded.
- Rule out a flexible, at home job to supplement your income. There are a lot of legitimate “at-home” jobs available today, thanks to technology. While many are scams (do your due diligence if looking for one), many are legitimate and are a valid way to supplement income so should not be ignored as a possible income stream.
- Rule out an encore career. An “encore career” is a second, later in life career. According to the article on expertbeacon.com, “A joint MetLife Foundation and Encore.org survey shows that, within the next 10 years, 25% of boomers hope to start a business or nonprofit organization. Moreover, half of this group wants to make a difference in the world while generating income.” Don’t overlook a second career.
- Let your guard down. Be aware that there are scam artists out there who prey on single women. They know that after a divorce many of us start to worry about finances and will target those fears in order to get what they can. If it sounds too good to be true it probably is, so don’t fall for it.
Most everyone I know, including me, has found the divorce process overwhelming at some point and for many it becomes a “let the lawyers handle it” because “I just can’t think about it right now” kind of thing. But our long term financial health and security is not one of those things we want to “think about tomorrow.” So no matter who’s handling the details, be sure retirement benefits are not lost in the shuffle.
Written by: Tricia Doane, Rust Built, Marketing Services
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