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The retirement years are meant to be enjoyed and savored, but a divorce could disrupt those plans for tranquility. Divorcing California couples — particularly those who are near retirement — may feel the side effects on their retirement the most. Paying careful attention during property division and other important divorce processes can help these individuals protect their retirement savings as well as their financial security.

There is a noticeable difference between the average net wealth in divorced households compared to nondivorced households — about 30 percent less. Less overall wealth can contribute to financial instability and insecurity, leaving many people unprepared for retirement. According to the Center for Retirement Research, divorced households struggle with retirement readiness far more than their peers who are still married.

Things like divorce expenses, selling the marital home, dividing retirement assets and more all contribute to this decrease in financial security. Divorcees may also have less access to credit on a single income than they did when they were married. So is it all bad news? Perhaps not.

Like with any type of action that involves risk, being prepared and paying attention to details can help produce better results. Those in California who are going through a divorce should take the time to learn about the different ways in which they can preserve their wealth and retirement savings, such as using a Qualified Domestic Relations Order when splitting retirement accounts during property division or claiming Social Security benefits based on an ex’s work history, when possible. By taking these steps, most people can end an unhappy marriage while still being ready for retirement.