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Dividing retirement accounts for older divorcing couples

The rate of divorce for older spouses in New Jersey and throughout the country has gone up considerably over the past few decades. According to the National Center for Family & Marriage, the divorce rate for individuals age 50 and over has doubled between 1990 and 2014. For couples over age 65, the rate tripled during that time period.

For many older couples, divorce inevitably leads to disputes over retirement accounts. These assets are particularly important when they have accumulated over a number of years as is often the case involving baby boomers. Older spouses may be concerned about their retirement accounts being divided when they were intended to provide for only one household.

Some individuals who have contributed more to a joint retirement account may feel that they deserve more the funds. However, courts typically split these assets evenly because marriage is considered to be an economic partnership. When splitting assets, the couple should take into account the tax implications for each savings account.

After deciding how to divide retirement savings, divorcing couples should change the beneficiary designations on their accounts. Most spouses name the other spouse as the beneficiary who will receive the remainder of funds upon death. However, divorcees will likely want to change this designation after the separation.

Individuals going through a divorce may choose to contact a family law attorney for assistance. A lawyer could explain how retirement assets may be divided during the divorce process. The attorney may also provide additional information about considerations in this matter such as the tax effects of different arrangements.

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