When it comes to the financial aspects of divorce, parting ways and splitting assets often means a change in lifestyle. Divorce can also have long-reaching implications when it comes time for retirement. But a new study from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College (CRR) indicates that divorcees who remain single may not feel the sting.
The CRR researchers investigated how divorce impacts the National Retirement Risk Index (NRRI), which measures the percentage of working-age households that are at risk of being unable to maintain their pre-retirement standard of living in retirement. The CRR study aimed to answer two burning questions. The following are their findings.
1) How severely does divorce affect retirement readiness?
CRR found that divorce increases risk of retirement challenges by seven points on the NRRI. (By comparison, the Great Recession increased the NRRI by nine percentage points. So the impact of divorce is quite substantial.) Not all divorced people fare the same when it comes to retirement readiness. Which led CRR to their next question …
2) How do the effects of divorce on retirement readiness vary by household type?
Divorced men and women who remarried a previously divorced spouse were associated with an additional nine-percentage-point increase on the NRRI. In these cases, particularly if there are children from previous marriages, retirement savings can take a backseat to child care, college savings, and other expense.
For similar reasons, divorced single men had a six-percentage-point increase. There is good news for one demographic: Divorced single women. The CRR study showed no significant increase in retirement risk for women who remained single after divorce, even if they had children.
In fact, the CRR study indicated that, in some ways, single women are more retirement-ready than their non-divorced single peers. Even if divorced single women have children (which may reduce their ability to save for retirement), they are more likely than those not divorced to own a house – an asset that enhances retirement resources.
The bottom line is this: Although your retirement may be decades away, it’s important to keep long-term savings goals in mind when going through the divorce process. Engage the help of a professional financial advisor, tax accountant and your divorce attorney as you plan your future. For more insight on retirement planning, go to wiserwomen.org.