What to do when divorce threatens retirement plans

When Pennsylvania couples get a divorce, they may have to change their plans for retirement. This means creating a plan to rebuild savings lost in divorce.

Households in which divorce has happened have a worth that is about 30 percent less than that of other households, and after a divorce, there is a 7 percent higher chance that retirement savings will run out. One issue that arises is that there are limits on contributions to qualified plans. For example, only $5,500 annually can be added to IRAs and Roths. For 401(k)s, the limit is $24,500 for people over 50 and just $18,500 for people younger than that. This can be discouraging for someone who has just lost $250,000 or more as a result of splitting a retirement account. However, there are other options. For example, people can max out their retirement account and also make deposits in a taxable investment account.

For an older nonworking spouse, alimony payments may run out before Social Security and other retirement benefits kick in. People in that situation might want to look into returning to the workforce, even part time or freelance, until they can begin drawing retirement benefits.

People who are considering divorce may want to discuss their concerns about retirement, division of property and financial stability with an attorney. Although going to litigation is sometimes necessary, it gives people less control over the outcome in property division, so they may prefer to try negotiation first. This can be done with the assistance of attorneys, and it often allows more flexible and creative solutions that both people are happy with compared to litigation.


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