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Navigating late-life divorce and how it can impact plans for retirement

Chris Cooper, a financial adviser for Serenity Wealth, says finding the right financial strategist can help steer you on the road to a happy retirement.
Stock image of two wedding rings on a desk.
Posted at 12:37 PM, Jul 08, 2024

Upon entering the sacred bond of marriage, you may have spoken these words: "For better or for worse … till death do us part."

But what happens when parting ways comes before death? Many later-in-life divorcees may worry their retirement stash could run dry.

Chris Cooper is a financial adviser for Serenity Wealth. He says he handles a lot of portfolios that involve a divorce "later" in life.

"It's important to understand, hey, that's what happened in the past," Cooper said. "But now we have to think about what we can do going forward. There are options. There are solutions."

Related story: Retiring soon? You might need $1.4 million for comfortable retirement

A report by Bowling Green State University's National Center for Family and Marriage Research found that divorce rates for people age 45 and over rose between 1990 and 2021. For adults 65 and older, the rate tripled.

Stan Kostecki got divorced after his children were grown and out of the house. He retired shortly after. Chris Besand also falls into the later in-life divorce category. However, he is still working.

"I've worked in banking for the last 20 years and finally was like, 'I've got too much going on. I don't need to deal with this. I don't need to handle all this anymore. I need somebody that knows what they're talking about,'" Besand said.

While their situations are different, Besand and Kostecki both say they realized that they needed guidance when it comes to retirement.

"I'm a big fan of enjoy what you're doing, enjoy what we're doing today, but what can we do to reduce our tax burden in the future?" Cooper said.

"After retirement, I needed to find somebody that said, 'OK, we're going to slow you down a little bit, but we're still going to keep the corral door open so you can run your horses the way you like to run them,'" Kostecki said.

Related story: Retirees are returning to the workforce in droves. Here's why.

Cooper added that many people he talks to struggle with the happy medium and are concerned about saving, fearing they won't be able to pay their bills.

"We run into a lot of situations where we just try to help people fund their lifestyle more efficiently, and that doesn't mean cut back on lifestyle," he said.

Cooper's biggest tip: Do not be afraid to open up.

"Talking about money, talking about things like, you know, taxes and ultimately our passing away ... those are inevitable. But guess what? We have to talk about it. We have to do it openly," he said.

Ultimately, Cooper says he believes finding the right financial strategist can help steer you on the road to a happy retirement.

"Our objective is to find out where we are today, where we want to be, and then figure out how we're going to get there," Cooper said. "There's a gap, and we just have to figure out how to fund that gap for our future expenses or our future lifestyle in the most efficient way possible."