Planning for Retirement After Divorce: Four Common Mistakes

It is difficult to think about retirement during your divorce—so much of your life is changing, and you and your family have a number of pressing, immediate needs. At the same time, you are probably feeling the financial stress as you make the transition from married life to single life.

However, forgetting—or not caring—about your retirement can be an extremely costly mistake. Handling your retirement funds incorrectly can also result in major problems in the years to come. Below, we’ve shared four common retirement mistakes made by divorcees:

  • Focusing on the house instead of the 401K – Women with children especially make the mistake of giving up other assets in order to keep the marital home. This can be a big mistake for a number of reasons, but mostly because getting the house often means losing the retirement account. If you are trying to keep the house for sentimental reasons—or simply because staying would be easier in the short run—think again.
  • Not thinking about taxation – Some retirement accounts, like the ROTH IRA, tax the money before you put it in, others, like the traditional IRA, tax money when you take it out. When you are divvying up retirement funds, be sure to keep this in mind.
  • Taking too much out of your retirement accounts – It may be necessary to dip into your retirement funds to pay for the costs of the divorce as well as the costs of starting a new chapter in your life. But don’t take more than you need. Too many people see the opportunity to take money from their accounts without penalty and end up hurting their nest egg.
  • Not recalculating your retirement needs – Your retirement goals and needs are very different when you are single than when you are married. Be certain to recalculate how much you will need and how much you should save after a divorce. Think about where you want to live, what you would like your quality of life to be, and what your long-term health and care needs may be.
Molly B. Kenny
Founder and Principal Divorce Attorney
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Molly B. Kenny's Bellevue family law office is conveniently located on Lake Bellevue Drive, making it easily accessible to those in the greater Seattle area. Our divorce and child custody lawyers help men and women get the information, guidance, and compassionate representation they need.
Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny