Many married couples in California often have big gaps in their personal resources and earning potential. It is common for one spouse to earn far more than the other does, especially if the couple shares children.
If you stayed home for years to raise your children or manage the household, you likely don’t have as much in retirement savings as your ex. If you chose to continue working even as you age, you will likely command lower wages than they would because of the gaps in your employment history.
Filing for divorce when you are close to retirement age can be frightening, especially for a dependent spouse. Thankfully, California has systems in place that will connect you with support after your divorce. How could you rely on your ex for help with your retirement?
You can ask for a share of their pension or retirement savings
In California, unless you have a marital agreement, your income and property during the marriage is community property. Both of you have a right to that property. Although you may not have worked, you can claim your share of your spouse’s retirement account or pension. The courts can split the account or they can consider their value when dividing your other property.
You can receive Social Security retirement benefits based on their income
If you didn’t work or if you earn substantially less than your spouse, you will have made fewer contributions to Social Security. That means you will have fewer benefits to rely on during retirement.
The Social Security Administration allows dependant spouses and divorced spouses with lower income to make a claim against their ex-spouses’ Social Security retirement benefits. Filing a claim can give you monthly support without reducing what your ex receives.
You can ask for spousal support or alimony
Especially if you are older and do not have the education or skills necessary to support yourself by getting a job, you may qualify for alimony or spousal support. The courts could order that your ex make regular payments to you so that you can cover your living expenses during retirement. Lengthy marriages are more likely to result in long-term spousal support orders than shorter marriages.
Learning about the retirement supports available in a California divorce can make you more confident about filing.