Lake County Divorce & Retirement: Know Your Options

April 15, 2012

Our Lake County divorce attorneys are seeing an increasing phenomenon of older individuals who are seeking an Indiana divorce.
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While enduring a divorce at any phase in your life is going to be generally unpleasant, there are pros and cons when it happens in your golden years. While most people who divorce in their 50s and 60s don't typically have to wrangle with the issue of child custody and child support, there are often still going to be issues with property distribution and discussions about alimony.

What is perhaps most concerning for an older couple enduring a divorce is what it's going to mean for your retirement. You may have gone years planning for time of travel and relaxation with your spouse, only to find yourself divorcing and completely unprepared.

Sadly, it's not just Indiana where this is happening. In fact, recent figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau indicate that in the last two decades, the divorce rate among individuals aged 48 to 66 has soared more than 50 percent. We're going to continue to see these numbers rise as Baby Boomers get older.

As any financial planner will tell you, divorce can impact your retirement account, your pension access and Social Security. However, you shouldn't let this discourage you from seeking a fresh start. Divorce in older age can seem daunting. However, with the help of an experienced Lake County family law attorney, the details are not impossible to work out. There is no reason you should suffer through what could be decades of an unhappy relationship when you have the right to peacefully enjoy the rest of your days.

Here are some basic steps you can consider taking to protect yourself in the event of an Indiana divorce:

Set up your own credit line and close any joint accounts. Once a divorce is final, you won't be able to rely on your spouse anymore, so it will be very important to develop your own credit history. If you don't have one, this is one of the first steps you should take. This is going to be the means through which you'll be able to buy or rent a new residence or get a loan.

Know the details of the debt you share with your spouse. Check your credit report. Even if your spouse was the one who ran up the high debts, you could still be held at least partially responsible, so it's a good idea to at least know where you stand. There are ways that a good attorney can help negotiate for you so you aren't stuck paying for frivolous expenses that your spouse racked up, or ensure that your spouse will be responsible for debt you accrued while paying bills or caring for your children.

Reconsider before using your retirement funds to pay for divorce expenses. Investing in a good attorney is important, but you may want to consider other ways to do that instead of taking it out of your retirement fund. You aren't likely to get that money back, and if you take it out in a lump sum, you'll likely have to pay heavy penalties and taxes on it.

Get all of your retirement and financial documents together before you meet with an attorney. This means your tax returns, bank account statements, investment documents, IRA's - everything. This will help your Indiana divorce attorney determine where you stand, and help us figure out your best options.

Lake County Divorce Attorney Burton A. Padove offers free and confidential appointments on family law matters throughout Northwest Indiana, including Munster, Lansing, Porter and Crown Point. Call 219-836-2200.

Additional Resources:
As more couples split, advisers face minefields, By Jessica Toonkel, Reuters

More Blog Entries:
Indiana Divorces and the Kid's College Fund: A look at a S.C. Supreme Court Decision, March 10, 2012, Indiana Divorce Attorney Blog