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Connecticut Family Law Blog

How divorce impacts retirement in Connecticut

Unfortunately, marriage today doesn't always mean til death do part. Some couples who have been married for years find themselves in the untenable situation of having to discuss divorce. Connecticut couples who are aged 50 and over and who are facing a life-changing event may be wondering how divorce will affect their retirement plans. The fact is, since 1990, what is known as gray divorce has doubled; in those circumstances, it seems the longer a couple was married, the more retirement might be affected.

Retirement plans for individuals after divorce definitely may look different from when a couple was married. Gone is a shared home, joint assets and retirement plans. Saying so long to working days may have to be thought about differently after divorce. Living life as a single can be much more expensive than sharing finances with a spouse. Income may be chopped, but the bills will still come, so the first question to answer is can each individual retire when first planned.

Can a husband's job status lead to divorce?

Losing a job can have disastrous effects in many areas of life. Experts say divorce could likely be added to the list if a husband becomes unemployed. A Harvard research study shows that if a man in a domestic partnership or marriage loses his job, he could also lose his relationship. This could also be true for Connecticut couples. 

Data was lifted from more than 6,000 married couples. They were interviewed between 1968 and 2013. Findings from those interviews showed that couples where the husband held down a full-time, steady job were less likely to divorce. In fact, more than 30 percent of marriages where the husband didn't work, ultimately did not last. 

Life after divorce in Connecticut can be peaceful

As the song says, breaking up is hard to do. But life after -- and even during -- divorce can eventually be happy and peaceful again. Living life as a single in Connecticut can take a little getting used to. Happiness is a choice, no matter what life throws into the mix. Being mindful and living in the moment might help with the stresses brought on by the end of a marriage.

Being in the moment -- in other words, relishing every instant instead of looking back or ahead -- seems to have a calming effect on most people. Mindfulness exercises like meditation or yoga can focus attention on the present. Live in gratitude and appreciation rather than in anger and animosity.

Mediation helps your children during divorce, too

When you think about mediation, your probably think about how you're working through property division or child custody disputes with a third party. What you may not realize is how good mediation can be in your everyday life as well. The tips and tricks you learn during your divorce mediation sessions have a direct impact on your children.

How do mediation sessions, which largely have little to do with your children, affect them? They help reduce stress, aggression and teach good skills for handling future disagreements.

Child custody in Connecticut: Being aware of potential problems

Children often take the breakups of their parents' marriages the hardest. So, when it comes time for the separating couple in Connecticut to discuss child custody, being aware of the potential snags and how to overcome them may help their children through a very emotional time. Communicating and cooperating with each other is a step in the right direction.

One of the problems that might crop up in custody matters is known as custodial interference. If a couple has a parenting agreement in place and the stipulations within that agreement aren't being followed by one parent -- like visitation or support, for instance -- then that parent isn't fulfilling his or her obligation to the children. A parenting agreement is a legal, binding document and as such not following it can lead to recriminations. Custodial interference could include not returning a child from a visit when agreed upon, not allowing a child to talk to a parent or limiting conversations, or interfering with visitation.

Should there be physical separation before divorce?

Ending a marriage is a decision most couples never enter into lightly. Divorce is not only stressful and potentially costly, but it can affect other aspects of life such as friendships and family relationships. But if a Connecticut couple has tried and they see no way to fix their marriage, perhaps physically separating before making a final decision to divorce may help each person make that final decision to either reconcile or to divorce. 

However if a couple is physically apart for more than a few months without moving ahead with a decision either way, they could be leaving themselves financially vulnerable. Experts suggest doing a few things if that is the case. Firstly, both individuals should have a firm grasp on shared, marital finances. If one partner has basically handled the money in the marriage, it's time for the other to step up and learn what's going on financially. It will give each a clear picture of debits and credits.

Divorce is no long a four letter word

There used to be a time when just the mention of the word divorce would cause all kinds of embarrassment and shame. But divorce has become commonplace in the 21st century, and instead of hiding in the shadows like people used to do in the 30s and 40s, divorced couples can hold their heads high since splitting up these days doesn't hold the stigma it once did. So, Connecticut couples who divorce no longer have to view themselves as relationship challenged.

There are many reasons why some married couples divorce. It could be a mutual decision based on growing apart or a decision of one partner because of an abusive relationship. Whatever the reasons, they are personal and don't not reflect on an individual's value.

Don't discount a 401(k) in a divorce agreement

Not everything is on the table when it comes to asset distribution when a couple separates. Some Connecticut couples heading toward divorce may not be aware that a partner's retirement or 401(k) plan could be a divisible asset if it meets certain criteria regarding the laws that govern retirement plans. In most instances, federal law provides that these types of plans can't be switched over to someone else; however,  there is a provision that allows a family court to order a retirement plan be shared with a spouse.

If that should be the case, a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) needs to get a court stamp of approval. This order will allow 401(k) non-taxable assets to be transferred from one party to another by way of an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). A QDRO could also be used to transfer retirement fund assets to a child as part of a child support agreement.

Enforcing Connecticut divorce agreements

When a divorcing couple reaches a settlement, each likely believes what is included in the settlement will be enforced. Sometimes, though, issues surrounding divorce in Connecticut aren't always that cut and dry. There are certain steps that have to be taken when it comes to getting the most out of a settlement or separation agreement, and that may leave divorcing couples feeling disheartened.

However, there is support for for those who need help with their divorce orders. It is best to have a plan in place regarding how a divorce agreement will be implemented. There can be many stipulations included in a divorce agreement, and not having a specified plan to fulfil these obligations and tasks could mean they're not fulfilled or adhered to at all. For instance, an agreement could stipulate that one parent pays child support, but if there is no plan on when that should occur, it might be an obligation that goes unfulfilled. 

Using mediation for a fair, amicable divorce

Many couples realize a divorce only has to be as messy as they make it. In some cases, one partner may need some time to get used to the idea, but even potentially complex divorces can occur responsibly and civilly.

For those who do hope to achieve a civil and fair divorce, divorce mediation is an excellent tool to consider. No matter how a couple chooses to approach dissolving their marriage, there are many complex issues they must address in detail. In traditionally litigated divorce, each spouse may hire an attorney or several to negotiate each inch of the couple's life and how to divide it. Contrastingly, mediation allows spouses to work together with a neutral third party mediator who is trained to guide them through each aspect of the divorce and reach agreements that fairly benefit and protect both spouses' rights.

We Listen, We Help, We Care

  • Wendy helped guide us through a very difficult and emotional process and was really able to provide an even and fair account for both parties. It's quite evident in her expertise in this area but the way she was able to make you feel safe and secure in a very insecure time goes far beyond her legal prowess. If the two parties are really willing to cooperate and collaborate, she's there to help gain the best possible solution for all involved, especially if there are children.
  • Regardless of how committed one is to the fact that divorce may be imminent and necessary, it is truly one of the most emotional and stressful situations one can experience. It can also be daunting. Wendy has a remarkable ability to cut through the noise and help you focus on the big picture while drilling down on what is most pertinent to your particular situation., they are a formidable team who work collectively with your best interests in mind.
  • Wendy and her staff were a delight to work with. During this difficult process I felt confident that the outcome would be fair and balanced, as it did. Very supportive, always well prepared and very knowledgeable. Would choose them all over again!
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