Marital property consists of all the assets and debts a married couple acquires either together or as individuals during the marriage. New Jersey is an equitable distribution state, requiring that all marital property be divided fairly — which does not necessarily mean equally — in a divorce. Retirement accounts are typically one of the major assets married couples have. These accounts are considered marital property if they were acquired during the marriage or if a spouse was added to an existing plan after the marriage.
Getting a divorce when you are near retirement or already retired can have a significant impact on your lifestyle, including the following:
Monthly cash flow. Income that used to support one household must now be used to support two households following a divorce. There may also be additional expenses in establishing two separate households. Typically, women in retirement feel financial pain more than men since they are more likely to have left the workforce to raise children and earned less than men when they were working. A divorce attorney can help negotiate spousal support so you can maintain a good quality of life, while a financial planner can help you establish a financial plan for moving forward.
Social Security benefits. While Social Security benefits are not subject to division in a divorce, there are some rules that will affect post-divorce income. For example, you can receive benefits on your ex-spouse’s record only if your marriage lasted 10 years or longer, you are unmarried, you are age 62 or older, your ex-spouse is entitled to Social Security benefits and the benefit that you are entitled to receive based on your own work is less than the benefit you would receive based on your ex-spouse’s work. If your ex-spouse dies, you may be eligible for survivor benefits provided the marriage lasted 10 years, you are at least 60 (or age 50 if you are disabled), and you are not already entitled to benefits equal to or greater than your ex-spouse’s benefits.
Your physical health. Divorce is stressful, no matter how amicable it may be. With age comes medical conditions that may worsen with stress, so it is important to develop a comprehensive physical and mental health plan to see you through the stresses of divorce.
Your social life. Couples that divorce after having been married for a long period of time usually find the social consequences of divorce to be complicated. Since you no longer socialize as a couple, you may find some friendships drop off due to the changes in your life. Children and grandchildren may visit less often since they now have to split their time between two separate grandparents.
On the other hand, divorcing later in life can be liberating for both spouses if they have been stuck in an unhappy marriage. You are both free to pursue your own passions and interests, with total control over your finances and your future.
You can rely on Murphy & Cistaro to skillfully negotiate and mediate your issues to a satisfactory resolution. Should the need arise, you can also count on our experience for being aggressive litigators if the situation calls for a more assertive response. Contact us today for your free consultation.