Though it is by no means a hard and fast rule, couples generally accumulate more wealth the longer they stay married. Whether this is because they advance in their careers over time and earn more money, are able to lessen their expenditures as their children age, or improve their investments and account balances with good choices, older couples often have more money and possessions than their younger counterparts. While this can mean that a California couple will have a comfortable estate to pass on to their friends and family, it can also mean that they have a major task to work through should their union end in divorce.
A late in life divorce can be devastating for individuals who have worked their entire lives for retirement. They may have already picked dates on which they would end their careers or methods in which they would tap their retirement accounts in order to preserve resources for their final years of life. Though it is not impossible to retire when facing a late in life divorce, it can be a challenge if individuals do not have realistic expectations.
One expectation that some individuals may have to face is the need to work longer than they want to. It costs more money to run two households than one; to this end, people who divorce when they are close to their retirement dates may decide to stay in their jobs a bit longer in order to defer the costs they will incur as single person households. There may also be questions about who gets the house, or even whether one spouse wants to keep a house - with mortgages and other expenses often tough for one person to manage.
Finally, individuals must be reasonable when it comes to dividing the property that they accumulated with their soon-to-be ex-partners. One partner will likely not get all of the retirement accounts, investments, and other financial assets at the end of the marriage. Those devices will generally be split based on the property laws of the jurisdiction; divorce attorneys can discuss those and other laws with their clients to provide them with useful guidance for their own family law cases.
A late in life divorce does not mean that a person will never quit working. It may mean that a person will have to shift their expectations about what retirement will look like as a single individual. Divorce severs more than just the relationship between two people and couples should understand how it may financially impact their futures before they begin the process.
Source: The Fiscal Times, "Don't Let a Late-Life Divorce Ruin Your Retirement Plans," Janna Herron, May 4, 2016