Divorce can be a long and challenging process, especially when you are above 50! But you know what? You are not alone! A study by the American Psychological Association reveals that about 40% to 50% of marriages in our country end in divorce!
But I would say, getting divorced means you can start afresh! Maybe, the understanding between you and your partner did not work out properly. You could have stayed in an unhappy marriage. But your children would have got a wrong perception about love.
Trust me, no one dies out of divorce! Yes, you might be emotionally fragile, especially if you are above 50!
Besides, divorce can affect your finances if you don’t plan it properly. For example, you and your partner had taken out a loan while you were together. But have you ever thought about what is gonna happen to that debt after a divorce?
This way, you need to think about all these things! So, here are some tips which you can follow to reorganize and lead a happier life ahead!
1. Learn to cope up with separation and divorce
Like any other major life change, divorce can come with its own emotional effects like shock, grief, and anger.
Well, it’s normal to feel so! You may feel anxious about your future too! Trust me, these reactions are going to lessen with time!
Isolating yourself can raise your stress levels, get in the way of your work, relationships, etc. And eventually, it can affect your overall health! You can share your feelings with your friends or family to get through this period. Besides, you can join the Wildflower group where you can talk to other people going through similar situations.
Most importantly, be good to yourself and your body! Take out time to exercise, eat well, and relax. Stick to your normal routine as much as possible. Don’t depend on alcohol, cigarettes, or any drugs to cope up with your divorce.
Last but not least, think positively!! I know, things might not be the same for you after divorce. But you can find new activities, make new friends, and invest time for your hobbies and look forward to it!
2. Plan for your retirement assets
Retirement savings are one of the most valuable assets people have! And therefore, it is an important issue for your divorce proceedings. But the hardest part can be how to split your retirement assets as it might be subject to tax implications.
By the way, does your ex-spouse have an employer-sponsored retirement plan?
If yes, you are legally entitled to part of the balance. But there are some conditions like:
Your marriage lasted 10 years or longer
You are presently unmarried
You are 62 years or older
The benefit, you are entitled to receive from your employer, is less than the benefit you can receive based on your ex-spouse’s work.
If you were born before January 2, 1954, then you have already reached full retirement age. And you have the option to file a restricted application. You can choose to receive only your ex-spouse’s benefits. And delay receiving your retirement benefit until a later date.
However, if you were born after January 2, 1954, the restricted application option is not available for you.
But what if your spouse was the primary breadwinner? How will you protect your share of his retirement account?
The answer to your question is a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). Now, what’s that?
Well, QDRO is a special court order that can grant you the right to a part of the retirement benefits of your spouse (earned through participation in an employer-sponsored retirement plan)!
However, a QDRO is only applicable to the plans that are IRS tax-qualified and covered by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). It does NOT apply to military or government pensions, which are governed by other laws.
3. Know about your tax breaks
Well, your marital status at the end of the year determines how you file your tax return. If you are divorced by midnight on December 31 of the tax year, you need to file separately.
If you are the custodial parent of your kid(s), you might be qualified for the favorable head of household status! But if you aren’t, you have to file as a single taxpayer even if you were married for part of the tax year!
Under the new tax regime (which you will file in 2020), you don’t need to claim alimony as an income, if your divorce was final after December 31, 2018.
4. How to divide up your debts
Do you live in a community property state?
If so, then debt which had incurred during your married life won’t be divided based on who has taken that out. Rather, you and your spouse both will be equally responsible for debts. Even if your spouse had created that debt without your knowledge!
However, if you live in one of the states which follow an equitable distribution, the court will assign the debt based on the person who has incurred it.
But let me tell you one thing! The division of debts can create a problem when you or your spouse has been ordered to make payments for a debt that’s not in the name of a person who has taken out.
For example, you are responsible for paying off a credit card debt which is on your spouse’s name. But you are going through a financial crunch and unable to make timely payments. If you do so, your spouse can take legal action against you for not abiding by the court order. So, if you are debt trapped, you can look for some strategies to get out of debt and stay away from unnecessary court summons.
That’s why it’s always advisable to get the debt in the name of the person who is responsible for that before filing for divorce!
If you have taken out a mortgage loan or a car loan with your spouse, you need to refinance the loan into just one person’s name (the one who is keeping the asset). If you are responsible for making the mortgage payments, you have to qualify the lender’s eligibility requirements to refinance the loan. The lender might check your assets, income, debts, and credit score.
Once the refinance is approved, you have to file a quitclaim deed. Doing so, your spouse gives up any right to the property. But for that, your spouse has to come to the lender and sign the quitclaim form with you in front of the loan officer. The loan officer, in turn, will notarize the document, taking your spouse’s name off the property.
But always remember that you should do this if and only if you have secured refinancing of your home!
And if your divorce is already completed, the lender may allow you to remove your name from the loan and replace it with your ex-spouse’s name. You just need to show them the divorce decree which states that your ex-spouse is responsible for making the mortgage payments.
The bottom line would be to believe in the old cliché that “time is a healer”. Things will improve over time and you will live a better and bolder life ahead!
A WFG thanks to Valentina Wilson our guest blogger who is a wealth of information regarding finances. You can contact her here Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/valentina.wilson.716