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I am getting divorced and wondering how it may affect my retirement plans. With 10 years to retirement, how can I best address a potential loss of significant retirement income?
-Amy L


Divorce can affect retirement planning in several ways. An obvious one may be felt when pension assets are divided up. If it’s true that two can live as cheaply as one, it’s also true that one will have a hard time living on half of the savings that she had spent a lifetime accumulating with her then-husband. If you and your husband were on track to retire with a lump sum that was likely to provide a certain annual income and its attendant lifestyle for the two of you, you may find that the portion you receive after the divorce will not be enough to maintain you alone in the same comfort.

Another impact of divorce concerns Social Security benefits. A divorced person generally is entitled to the same benefits as if he or she were still married. Beyond that, there are certain strategies that can enhance benefits, but to be effective they require cooperation between both halves of a couple. When the two people involved are a former couple, cooperation may not always be forthcoming.

With your planned retirement not that far off, you probably would do well to sit down with a financial advisor, preferably one with extensive experience in divorce cases, perhaps someone referred by a trusted friend who has gone through what you’re going through. The advisor should be able to tell you where you stand legally, prepare a strategy for negotiating how you and your husband will divide your assets, if there is the potential for flexibility, and then help you to devise a plan for future savings to get you back at least to the point where you had expected to be financially before the breakup.

-Conrad de Aenlle