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What to know about divorce and retirement

The good news for Massachusetts residents is that the overall divorce rate has dropped in recent decades. However, for those over the age of 50, it is actually increasing. This can be a particularly troubling time to get a divorce because these individuals may be thinking about retirement. It may also be their peak earning years, which means a divorce could pose a threat to financial security.

Those who are thinking about getting a divorce may benefit from reviewing their expenses as well as how they may change once they are single again. For instance, car insurance may be higher for single individuals compared to those who are married. A financial review may also be helpful because many people don't have an accurate measure of how much they actually spend. As income may go down after a divorce, it may also make sense to downsize.

Selling a marital home or other expensive assets may make the most financial sense even if they have sentimental value. It may also be necessary to apply for Social Security benefits or to adjust an investment strategy to generate more wealth in retirement. Other ways to make up for lost income include waiting until age 65 to qualify for Medicare or inquiring about a survivor's pension.

People who are contemplating a divorce may benefit from considering the financial aspects of the decision. An attorney may be able to help an individual obtain some or all proceeds from a joint retirement account or proceeds from the sale of a house or other joint property. The attorney could also provide advice on how to apply for Social Security benefits based on a former spouse's work record if the marriage lasted for at least 10 years.

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