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Protecting assets in divorce after 50

Filing for divorce is challenging at any stage. If you are 50 or older, with an eye on retirement, your investments, assets and retirement accounts become even more important during divorce proceedings.

If you no longer have minor children, your primary concern will likely be maintaining your lifestyle and ensuring financial comfort.

Protecting your assets

California family law is based in community property law, which requires an equitable division of assets. This usually means 50/50, but not always.

A separation agreement is the best way to divide property and debts. The courts must sign off on the agreement to make it legally binding, but agreeing ahead of time how you will balance your debts and assets in a way that will help protect your share of the community's retirement funds, and be approved by the courts, is often the best option.

Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDRO)

A QDRO establishes how some types of retirement accounts are divided in a divorce. This is especially important if you have accumulated significant retirement assets and are nearing retirement age. An important goal is to ensure that during a divorce, the parties do not accidentally trigger penalties by failing to transfer their interests correctly. A QDRO should be drafted by an attorney who focuses on this area of law. Your family law attorney will work with a QDRO attorney.

Make a plan

Given all the complications, the best way to maintain your retirement as you go through a divorce is to have a plan that fits your needs.

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