Worrying about retirement is common for anybody who finds themselves contemplating a late-in-life divorce. You do not want to feel trapped in your marriage just because you think you can’t afford to retire.
Your biggest issue may come from the fact that the only retirement account you have as a couple is in your spouse’s name. They are still working, so you can’t simply claim the money they have saved up when dividing property. But that doesn’t change the fact that your future planning revolved around those accounts. If you split up, will that remove you from those assets and therefore make retirement impossible, or is there something you can do to at least get a portion of those accounts?
Retirement accounts are marital assets
The thing to remember is that retirement funds are usually marital assets, especially if the funds were earned during said marriage. If you were married when your spouse took that job, and he or she earned the pension or retirement fund by working, that’s still an earned asset — just like a paycheck. As such, you may be able to claim that some of that asset should go to you, making it so that you can still retire when your ex decides to do so.
To get your share, you use a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). This document legally establishes the percentage of the fund that should go to you and orders that you be paid that amount in turn. You’re known as an alternate payee for the plan.
Considering all assets
Do not overlook valuable assets or assume you have no claim to them. Always make sure you know what options you have in a divorce. Working with an experienced divorce attorney can help.