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Massachusetts divorces: How property division affects retirement

Many older adults have spent their lives working and saving toward retirement, looking forward to the day they can quit their jobs and relax. Then, sometimes out of nowhere, they are blinded by a request from their spouse for a divorce, and all those retirement plans feel like they're about to fly out the window. Suddenly, individuals may find themselves wondering how asset and property division will affect their retirement.

In Massachusetts, retirement age is generally considered the point at which an individual would qualify for full Social Security benefits, which is age 67. This is especially significant for individuals who had hoped to take early retirement because, even if that person quits his or her job, a judge will treat the situation as though the individual is still working. Legally, this is called attribution of income and is used to determine alimony, child support and asset division.

To calculate alimony, a judge usually takes into account the last several years of spending and income, including bills, credit, checking and savings accounts and more. A lawyer can try to help draft a separation agreement requiring a spouse to immediately notify the other upon remarriage in order to have that remarriage automatically end any alimony payments. An attorney may also be able to help in complex situations involving accounts that existed prior to marriage if they did not become part of shared marital assets.

Asset distribution and property division will likely affect an individual's retirement. However, with the aid of a seasoned Massachusetts lawyer, the more negative effects can often be minimized. A divorce attorney can help fight for a fair division of assets and will have invaluable knowledge and experience that may prove crucial in avoiding unnecessary financial pitfalls throughout the divorce process.

Source:, "Divorce papers may foil plan to retire at 50", Wendy Hickey, May 28, 2017

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