When you and your ex married, you may have started to set money aside and otherwise create retirement plans together. However, your post-work future may look much different if the two of you decide to part ways. Divorce has the potential to devastate your existing retirement plans. This may prove particularly true if you are divorcing later in life, but there are a few things to consider doing that may help minimize the damage.
When you divorce and want to maximize the amount you have tucked away for retirement, consider taking the following steps.
Decide when to claim Social Security benefits
First, determine whether you are eligible for your spouse’s Social Security benefits. If your marriage lasted at least 10 years and you have not remarried, you should be eligible for some of your ex’s benefits.
How much you receive in these benefits depends on when you claim them. Your ex-spouse must be at least 62 before you may do so, and then you must also wait two years after your divorce finalizes before claiming yours. If your situation meets these criteria and you wait until you reach full retirement age to claim benefits, you should receive half of the amount your ex does.
Secure a Qualified Domestic Relations Order
When your ex has an employer-sponsored retirement plan, you should consider obtaining a Qualified Domestic Relations Order dictating that you should receive some of his or her benefits, even though you are a nonparticipant in the plan. QDROS are sometimes complex, and the wording used in them matters. Thus, it may serve you well to have someone with considerable knowledge in this area assist you.