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retirement after divorce

Retirement After Divorce: I’m 60, Still Single And Made BIG Mistakes

retirement after divorce

I wrote an article earlier about being a single mom 20 years later and how one can survive, called “15 Insights from a Veteran Single Mom” that was posted on this site in January.

I wrote it because I wasn’t seeing that kind of perspective and wanted to share with others that are new to the journey, with a message that you can indeed survive.

You can even thrive as well.

But it may cost you as it has me.

My article was mostly from an emotional perspective. But what about the business of “your life” after divorce and the kids are grown? What does the other side look like from a financial perspective?

I have seen some good articles related to financial advice on “new single mothers”. But, I have yet to find anything that speaks to single mothers who have given it all to raising a family alone and who now find themselves in a very precarious position financially; 20 years down the road.

An article on guilt would have served me well in the early days and throughout my single motherhood.

I felt guilty for being the reason my husband left. Or so I thought I was anyway.

I felt that it was my job to make sure that my children never felt left out. Never went without and always felt like all the other kids in school whose parents were together.

I live in a community where there really are very few single parents. My kids pointed that out a lot to me.

My ex-husband gave me $328.00 per child each month. That was the court allotted amount. I had a 4-week-old infant when I started this journey, and I have to say that $328 didn’t go very far towards formula and diapers alone.

So, in order to keep up with “Mr.” and “Mrs.” Jones, I sacrificed a lot financially. I sacrificed as I tried to keep up with everyone and everything which living in Southern California expected of me.

I sacrificed myself, literally. I wouldn’t realize it until many years later.

There have been many times on this journey that I vowed to change my name back to my maiden name. I hated having the same last name as the woman my ex-husband cheated with and then married. I was not proud to have that name anyway.

But my kids were really against me doing it. They didn’t want to have a different last name than me. When the time came that they were old enough and no longer cared, I started to research the process.

I was required to show my decree of divorce. My brother who is a Superior Court Judge advised me as well. Because when the divorce became final, I was in the thick of raising an 18-month-old and a 6-year-old, I was kind of busy. I couldn’t find my documents anywhere.

My brother was able to help me. In the documents package that I received from him was an additional paper that stated that I had signed off on my ex-husband’s retirement.

I almost fainted dead away when I read it. I didn’t remember ever doing this. When we sold our home and we were in the final escrow, I received a call from the escrow officer. She said that my husband would not sign the escrow papers and ran out of the office.

Panic consumed me.

I was buying a house and selling a house and escrow was scheduled to close for both properties on the same day. This was going to cause a domino effect. I called him and he said he wanted the retirement accounts.

He would not sign the escrow documents unless I signed them over.

At the time, I thought he meant the IRA’s. I said, “If I agree to this will you get out of my life forever?” He said yes. My naivete would cost me more than I could ever have imagined now that I am 60 years old.

So here I am now. Twenty years later. In reading the articles on this site, I realized how much I would have loved to have known about DivorceMoms.com much sooner into my divorce.

So, here is what I have to say to you all as I literally sit here learning in real-time.

Retirement After Divorce: How To Get Ready

Credit Cards!

I hate them and you will too! Don’t use them unless it’s an emergency. Keep two and that’s it. They are your emergency fund and should only be used as such.

Your heartstrings will tug at you and your Catholic guilt will get the best of you, so leave them home when you are at Target with the kids!

You will be a hostage to yourself! All the toys and stuff you bought them will end up at Goodwill! I promise you!

Budget, Budget, Budget!

And stick to it! Again, I found that the guilt I had made me do stupid things and spend money foolishly on toys, dinners out, and things they and I didn’t need. All done in the name of guilt and keeping up with The Jones.

You want to feel normal. You want to feel like you are in the club of intact complete families. So, you push your budget to fit in.

I’m here to tell you that you will regret it if you don’t stay inside your own lines. Who cares what everyone else is doing? They really don’t. It’s all on you and your guilt issues! So, Stop!

Get Rid of the Cape!

Get rid of your Super Woman Cape altogether. It may fit you now, but it’s when you are 60, it’s too darn tight! So, chuck it now! You are a Super Woman on your own merit by the mere fact that you are raising a family solo.

You are your own Caped Crusader and you most definitely are your kids! They love you and need you and want you all without your trying to be everything to everyone.

Just be their everything! Give the cape to the Salvation Army and don’t look back!

If I was speaking to my younger, confused self I would tell that poor girl to calm down. I would assure her that she was good enough and didn’t have to spend money on stuff that will eventually end up on the curb for pick up.

I would tell her to stop all that. I would tell her that if people really loved her, they didn’t need her to “keep up” with them. And if they did expect that, they never really did care in the first place.

And lastly, I would tell her to love herself so much by saving money, any money and put it into her retirement and teach her children that the real value in life isn’t by having things. It is by loving each other. Period.

But as I speak to myself today, I just start each day as I step further into a time of traditional retirement age and say “Breath. Just Breath.”

The post Retirement After Divorce: I’m 60, Still Single And Made BIG Mistakes appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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No One Can Touch My Retirement For Child Support or Alimony, Right?

No One Can Touch My Retirement For Child Support or Alimony, Right?

Retirement funds are not all safe from being taken to satisfy child support or alimony/spousal support obligations.

The post No One Can Touch My Retirement For Child Support or Alimony, Right? appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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Handling military retirement intelligently during your Texas divorce

Handling military retirement intelligently during your Texas divorce

Originally published by The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC Blog.

Your marriage of ten, twenty or thirty years may have flown by but now you are considering a divorce. Not only is this going to affect you and your spouse presently but your future well being may be impacted as well. Beyond the immediate loss of your spouse is the long term impact that losing out on retirement savings that may be needed for your post-work survival. In an age where we are all concerned about the viability and sustainability of Social Security is the reality that many people remain married to their spouse into retirement age because they feel like they have no choice but to remain married in order to ensure a comfortable life after retirement.

What can be done in the event that your spouse is in the military and you are now moving towards a divorce? Can you divide military retirement benefits as you could civilian retirement benefits? What are the risks to you in moving forward with a divorce from a financial perspective? There is a lot of information about military retirement benefits in a divorce from a general perspective but I wanted to share some in-depth content with you all on this subject. Today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan will seek to answer those questions.

There are really two kinds of divorces: military and nonmilitary

While the divorce laws in our state are the same for all married people, it is important to note that military divorces have several components that differentiate them from non-military divorces. The reasons for that are due to the unique lifestyle that military members have, the effect of military service on a servicemember’s family as well as the challenges that division of military retirement benefits has on divorce participants.

The problem that you as a military member or military spouse are going to run into in trying to do research and locate an attorney that has knowledge of these issues is that very few attorneys have the collective experience in handling military divorces and dividing up military benefits correctly for their clients. The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan do have that experience and are therefore interested in being able to share that experience with you today.

Think about it- you wouldn’t want to ask an attorney with no divorce experience to represent you in a divorce case (Although many people do). You also wouldn’t want to ask an attorney with no experience handling military divorces to represent you in a divorce case either. Still, you may be surprised when I tell you that many people walk into courtrooms and mediation offices with an attorney who has never dealt with military divorces before. While I appreciate those who have never had that experience attempting to gain it I cannot recommend that you be the person that the lawyer “practices” with.

As much as offering you advice and perspective on the specific subject of military divorces I would like to use this blog post as a means by which you can figure out if the attorney you are speaking to actually has the requisite knowledge of military divorces to represent you and your family. Interviewing family law attorneys is not something that comes naturally to most people. It is not difficult for you to lose sight of your objective in a meeting with an attorney when it comes to actually try to determine how much that particular attorney has in handling military divorces. It is not something that you want to try to figure out on the fly, either. You need to prepare yourself to listen for certain things and ask certain questions to elicit those responses.

Finally, I hope that this blog post impresses upon you the complexity with which family law cases operate- especially divorces. You may have people in your life- friends or family- that have handled their divorce without any representation. Those people may have been able to walk away from their case unscathed but remember that not all cases are created equal. Even if you believe that you and your spouse want a quick and easy (painless) divorce that may not be how it actually turns out. Your divorce case could very well be contentious and we know that it is going to be complicated if yours involves military retirement.

How much of your military retirement benefits does your spouse stand to receive in a divorce?

From the perspective of a member of our military, you likely did not enter the service in order to gain the approval of your friends and family. There are certain jobs that require less effort and sacrifice that you could have entered into. Rather, you joined the military because you love our country and wanted to help your fellow citizen. Maybe your family has a history of military service. Maybe you had a role model growing up that was a Marine and so that inspired you to become a Marine as well. Either way, you entered the military as a genuine reflection of your appreciation of our country and our values.

However, that’s not to say that you also don’t appreciate the material benefits afforded to you as a member of the military. That includes military retirement benefits. There is nothing wrong with looking out for yourself and your longevity in relation to your divorce. You have worked hard to accumulate some security for yourself after you retire from military service and you do not want to sacrifice that security unnecessarily. At the same time, you likely don’t want your spouse to walk out of your divorce with nothing to show for their commitment to you and what sacrifices for made at home so that you could complete your objectives in your military life.

The number one question that I am asked in consultations with military members is what is likely to happen with their retirement savings in a divorce. If you are a military member you may be wondering the same thing- what does your spouse stand to be able to leave your divorce with as far as your military retirement benefits are concerned?

In most Texas divorces your military retirement benefits will be divided, at least that portion that you accumulated during the course of your marriage. Obviously the longer your marriage has lasted the bigger the slice of your retirement pie that can be divided up. Those benefits that accrued during your marriage are considered to be community property. Community property is subject to division in your divorce. It does not matter that your spouse did not work a day in their life for the military, or perhaps at all outside the home. The State of Texas does not distinguish between spouses in this regard. If you and your spouse were married then your earnings are theirs and vice versa, for better or worse.

Whatever you have earned towards your military pension before your marriage is yours to keep with your spouse having no rights to it. This falls in line with general theories of separate property in Texas. The discussion becomes much more complicated once we get past these fairly straightforward concepts surrounding community and separate property, however.

Military pensions are a bit different from civilian pensions

One important thing to take note of when it comes to military pensions is that the military will not allow your spouse to take home from your divorce more than 50% of your pension. As I touched on in the section prior to this one, the question then is how long have you been married? The longer the length of your marriage the higher the percentage of benefits that your spouse could potentially walk away from the divorce with.

The way that the State of Texas calculates how much your spouse could stand to keep from your military pension compares your total number of months married while you were an active duty member of the service with the total number of months that you have towards retirement benefits.

For example, if you were in the military for twenty years and only married for the last ten years, your spouse wouldn’t have any standing to ask for anything related to your first ten years of military service from a retirement perspective. If you are still in the military at the time of your divorce things become even more complicated than this.

When you are still an active duty servicemember at the time of your divorce

The State of Texas uses a complicated equation to determine the exact amount of retirement benefits that your spouse is able to walk away from the divorce with if you are still actively engaged in your military service at the time of your divorce.

There are basically six component parts to the equation. If you were not a great Math student in high school then you may want to sit down for this. You would take 50% (the percentage of your spouse’s community interest in your military retirement) and multiply that by the number of months that you were in service as a military member during your marriage divided by the number of months in total that you have served as an active duty military member.

Once you have that percentage you will multiply it by .025 x the years and months in active duty military service. That number is then multiplied by the average of your military base pay for the past three years.

Once you have that number you would divide by your monthly gross retired pay at retirement.

Finally, multiply this number by your monthly disposable retired pay at retirement and you finally have a number that your spouse will be able to walk out of your marriage with.

Not only is that fairly convoluted but it takes to research and communication with your attorney to arrive at the correct number. For instance, to figure out what your 36-month base pay is you would need to turn over your payroll records to your attorney. Your attorney will then create a table that will show your base pay for the past three years. Asking an attorney to do math is risky in and of itself (kidding) but to do so you better be sure that your lawyer knows their math and the law.

Is it possible for you to keep all of your military pension in your divorce?

The short answer to this question is, “yes.” The longer answer is yes with some details attached to it. The main detail is that you will have to negotiate with your spouse to get to a point where you are walking away with the entirety of your retirement benefits intact. Sometimes you have a situation where your spouse does not want any of your retirement. Believe it or not, these case happen- not often, however. In other situations, you will need to trade retirement benefits for something else. Maybe you have a separate property interest that you can offer in place of the pension. Maybe a portion (or all) of the rest of your community property share of your equity in your home or some other significant asset can be offered to your spouse.

More on the specifics of dividing a military pension will be discussed in tomorrow’s blog post

I hope that today’s blog post was not only interesting to read but also caused you to stop and think about some of the specifics associated with dividing military retirement benefits. It is not a simple or straightforward process and should not be entered into lightly. While your attorney will be charged with providing advice and counsel to you, it is ultimately your case and your livelihood that is at stake. Be prepared for your case by joining us tomorrow to read more about this important subject.

In the meantime, if you have any questions about the material that we covered today please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. We offer free of charge consultations with our licensed family law attorneys six days a week. We can discuss your case with you, answer questions and address your concerns in a comfortable and pressure-free environment.

Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.



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Award of Retirement Increases in Texas Divorce

Award of Retirement Increases in Texas Divorce

Originally published by Kelly McClure.

By

Retirement can be a complex issue in Texas divorce cases.  In some cases, retirement accounts may not be fully vested.  In others, retirement income may be subject to periodic increases.  When retirement income is subject to increases, the spouse required to make ongoing payments should be sure he or she understands how to calculate those payments in light of the increases.

A former couple recently ended up back in court more than a decade after their divorce due to a dispute over how to calculate retirement increases.  The couple married in 1976 and divorced in 1998, after the husband’s retirement from the military.  The wife was awarded $754.80 per month of the husband’s retirement, and 60% of all increases “due to cost of living or other reasons…”  The husband was ordered to name the wife beneficiary under the Armed Services Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP).  The wife was ordered to pay 40% of the cost of the SBP, which was to offset the retirement award the wife received.

In 2012, the wife informed the husband he had underpaid her.  His new attorney told him he had been calculating his payments incorrectly. He had been calculating the payment using a method that resulted in payment of 60% of all cost of living increases cumulatively.  After receiving advice from counsel, he began paying his wife 60% of the increases only in the first year they were received.

The wife petitioned to enforce the retirement award, claiming she had been underpaid.  The husband argued he had overpaid her and that she had not paid the SBP premiums.  At trial, the wife testified she was owed more than $7,000 and that she had paid the SBP premiums according to the prior ruling.  The husband did not provide evidence of the overpayment amounts or the SBP premiums he claimed were owed to him.

The court found that the wife was entitled to $754.80 per month as her share of the husband’s retirement, and 60% of any cost of living increase in the year it was first received.  The court awarded the husband $2,617.57, but did not state how it calculated that amount or how it was allocated between the overpayments and SBP premium underpayments.

On appeal, the wife argued the original decree required the husband to pay 60% of any increases cumulatively.  She also argued the evidence was insufficient to support the trial court’s finding she had not paid the SBP premiums as required.  The husband argued the trial court had correctly interpreted the original award.

The appeals court considered whether the trial court had sufficient evidence to exercise its discretion and whether the court erred in application of that discretion. Evidence is insufficient if there is a complete absence of evidence regarding a vital fact, the rules of evidence do not allow the court to give weight to the only evidence supporting a vital fact, there is a “mere scintilla” of evidence supporting a vital fact, or the evidence establishes the opposite of the vital fact conclusively. The court errs in the application of its discretion if it makes an arbitrary or unreasonable decision.

The appeals court had previously decided a case with similar language regarding increases in retirement income.  In that case, the appeals court held the wife was entitled to the fixed amount plus the percentage of the accumulated cost of living increases.  The appeals court referred to the husband’s argument that she only receive the percentage during the first year as “a tortured reading of the divorce decree.”  The appeals court noted that the wife’s share is based on the accumulated increase because the husband receives base retirement pay plus the accumulated adjustments.

The trial court abused its discretion in finding the wife was only entitled to the increases during the first year. The appeals court further found that the order improperly amended, modified, altered, or changed the substantive division of property in the divorce decree.

In its opinion, the appeals court rendered judgment clarifying the divorce decree to provide that the wife is entitled to “60 percent of all accumulated increases…”  The appeals court found the husband was entitled to nothing on his claim for overpayment of the retirement award.  It remanded the wife’s claim to the trial court for proceedings to determine the amount of the underpayments.

The appeals court then considered the SBP premium claim.  To succeed on his claim to enforce the premium obligation, the husband had to prove his wife failed to comply with the obligation and prove the underpayment amount.  The evidence presented on this issue indicated the wife deducted her premium obligation from the amount the husband owed her and paid him $138.43 each month since 2013.  There was no evidence in the record of missing premium payments.

The appeals court found “a complete absence of evidence” supporting the husband’s claim.  The trial court abused its discretion by finding the wife had not met her obligation when the evidence was legally insufficient to support such a finding.  The appeals court reversed the judgment awarding the husband on his claim for premium payments and rendered a judgment that he receive nothing for that claim.

This case clarifies that an award of increases in retirement income will likely be interpreted to require that the increase in payment to the spouse be ongoing and not limited to the first year unless there is language otherwise.  If you have a dispute with your former spouse over property division, an experienced Texas divorce attorney can help you understand your obligations and fight for your rights.  Call McClure Law Group at 214.692.8200 to schedule a consultation.

Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.



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