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How to protect retirement accounts in a divorce

Divorce has decreased in recent years around the country. However, there is one demographic where the divorce rate has actually increased. Reports show that people over the age of 50 are more likely than ever to divorce, according to the Pew Research Center. 

There are certain factors to a gray divorce that differ significantly between couples who are in their 20s or 30s. For example, a couple in their 50s may not have to worry as much about child custody because any children they have are now adults. However, spouses in their 50s may feel significantly more concerned about their retirement accounts. There are various tactics to implement to help protect such assets. 

Focus on the amount of income a retirement source is likely to generate

Part of the divorce process will require both parties to place a value on all assets. That includes retirement accounts, such as 401(k)s. The parties need to determine how much money a specific account is likely to create in retirement. For instance, a 401(k) worth $500,000 placed in a taxable investment account will probably be worth more than the same valued 401(k) placed in an account where 100 percent of all withdrawals face taxes at normal tax rates. You may need to consult with a forensic accountant to help you with this part of the separation process. 

Consider selling the house

To make it out of the divorce proceedings all right, you need to be able to let go of certain assets. As much as you may want to continue living in the home, it may no longer be possible with only one income. Even if you paid off the house, you still need to think about property taxes. It may work to your advantage to sell the house and move to a property you can afford on your single income. By freeing up more money, you now have more funds you can put into retirement. 

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