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Rethinking retirement during a later-age Ohio divorce

Just as child-welfare concerns often dominate broken relationships of unhappy, young married couples, so do financial issues plague older divorcing spouses. Couples in the 50-plus age group are seeking divorce at twice the rate they were in 1990, according to an Ohio study from Bowling Green State University. Projections suggest the divorce rate among older Americans will hit 800,000 annually by 2030.

Older spouses frequently have considerable marital assets, including divisible pension accounts containing decades of savings. With income earning days dwindling, investments are crucial to people approaching retirement. Divorce can leave spouses with a lot less than they planned for those golden years.

All Columbus couples going through divorce must divide marital property, through dissolution agreements or under a court's direction. Older spouses sometimes aren't aware of all the property they have, like pensions accounts from jobs in past decades. Forensic accountants help uncover forgotten and hidden assets, while financial planners plot finances for the post-divorce future.

Some retirement accounts cannot be split during divorce without a qualified domestic relations order -- the court's permission to revise a retirement account's ownership. QDRO preparation can involve complex details, sometimes requiring the assistance of a financial counselor in addition to an attorney.

Tax implications play heavily into divorces between older spouses. The value of retirement plans and other assets can be diminished when there is a future burden, like taxes upon the withdrawal of certain pension funds. Spouses married for at least 10 years also may be eligible for a portion of an ex's Social Security benefits.

Delaying or rushing into a divorce agreement can be unwise, especially for older spouses whose futures can depend heavily on the way marital assets are divvied up. Divorce often reduces an individual's standard of living. An attorney's assistance to create a fair settlement is imperative, because the agreement sets the stage for a time when income is fixed.

Source: NBC News, "Poor Immigrants Get Free Legal Defense in New York City Program," June 25, 2014

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