How divorce can affect finances for those over age 50


If you are over age 50 and facing a separation, you are not alone. While divorce rates for those under the age of 40 have dropped over the last few decades, the rates for people age 40 and over have seen an uptick — especially among the 50-and-over crowd. According to the Pew Research Center, the "gray" divorce rate has roughly doubled since the 1990s.

Older couples who have passed their peak earning years may have more assets (and more savings) than younger couples, so deciding how to divide them will be crucial. Here are a few tips to consider about your finances before and after your divorce paperwork is complete. Be sure to consult with your tax and legal professionals before engaging in any transaction.

  • Taxes. With the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, the rules for alimony significantly changed  and they still apply today. For couples who finalize their divorce under the new rules, the ex-spouse who is paying alimony can’t reduce his or her tax burden by claiming the payments as expenses. The spouse who is receiving the alimony will benefit, though, as he or she will not need to declare the payments as income. Anyone who divorced prior to the new laws will need to continue under the old rules.
  • Retirement savings. In both contentious and amicable divorces, the split of retirement savings will need to be negotiated. Besides the obvious tally of any balances, divorcing couples should consider the tax benefits of each account when it comes to distributions. For example, if you have a Roth IRA and a traditional IRA that have the same balance, you may be tempted to consider them equal. But the Roth IRA would actually be worth more, as the taxes were paid on the funds as they were invested in the account, and distributions will be tax free. Likewise, divorcing couples should scrutinize the tax rules for 401(k)s and Health Savings Accounts.
  • Social Security. The rules surrounding who is entitled to Social Security benefits for divorces can be complicated. But in general, if your marriage lasted 10 years and you are both over age 62, you’ll need to consider how Social Security will be divided. Social Security benefits differ based on your pre-retirement career, so the spouse who has lower benefits may be entitled to half of the spouse’s benefits who earned more.
  • Children. Some people over age 50 will not need to consider custodial arrangements for their children, who may be legal adults. But if children and child-support payments are part of a divorce settlement, you should consider how they would affect your overall retirement plan and budget. In some cases, divorcees may consider staying in the workplace longer to make sure their retirement plans stay on track.
  • Life insurance. As with any divorce, if your agreement has one ex-spouse paying the other for child support or alimony, the payee may need to have a life insurance policy in place to pay for the expenses in the event that he or she passes away.
  • Living expenses. Before a divorce, a couple may be planning for the expenses of a single mortgage, but with a separation comes the need for both exes to either pay mortgages or rent. While you may have planned to stay in your current home through your retirement, you may want to consider downsizing so the cost of housing (and all related utilities) doesn’t disrupt your retirement planning.

You’ll also want to discuss your divorce plan with a financial professional to reevaluate your retirement goals and possibly reset your timelines. In the meantime, you can review the detailed tax guidelines for divorced and separated couples on the IRS website. 

This information is brought to you by Athene — where unconventional thinking brings innovative annuity solutions to help make your retirement dreams a reality.


Not affiliated with the Social Security Administration or governmental agency.

About Athene Careers Contact Us Individuals Professionals Institutions
The institutional channel includes reinsurance and group annuity contracts related to pension group annuities.
Reinsurance Pension Group Annuities (PGA)
Privacy Legal

Annuities contain features, exclusions, limitations and availability that may vary by state and/or sales distributor. For a full explanation of an annuity, please refer to the Certificate of Disclosure or Prospectus (as applicable) and contact your financial professional or the company for costs and complete details. This material is a general description intended for general public use. 

Annuity contracts and group annuity contracts are issued by Athene Annuity and Life Company (61689), West Des Moines, IA, and Athene Annuity & Life Assurance Company (61492), Wilmington, Delaware, in all states (except New York), and in D.C. and PR. Annuity contracts and group annuity contracts are issued by Athene Annuity & Life Assurance Company of New York (68039), Pearl River, NY, in New York state. Payment obligations and guarantees are subject to the financial strength and claims-paying ability of the issuing insurance company. Insurance products may not be available in all states. These companies are not undertaking to provide investment advice for any individual or in any individual situation, and therefore nothing in this should be read as investment advice. This material should not be interpreted as a recommendation by Athene Annuity and Life Company, Athene Annuity & Life Assurance Company, Athene Annuity & Life Assurance Company of New York, or Athene Securities, LLC. Please reach out to your financial professional if you have any questions about insurance products and their features.

The term “financial professional” is not intended to imply engagement in an advisory business with compensation unrelated to sales. Financial professionals will be paid a commission on the sale of an annuity.


Reinsurance contracts are entered into with Athene Annuity and Life Company (61689), West Des Moines, IA; Athene Annuity & Life Assurance Company (61492), Wilmington, Delaware; Athene Annuity & Life Assurance Company of New York (68039), Pearl River, NY; and Athene Life Re Ltd., Hamilton, Bermuda. Not all reinsurance products or structures offered are available in all jurisdictions. Reinsurers may not be licensed in all states. All transactions are subject to meeting a reinsurer’s underwriting requirements. Reinsurance products are not protected or guaranteed by state insurance guaranty associations or insolvency funds.