You might not be able to save as much
If your expenses are higher after the divorce—and they frequently are—you might find yourself unable to save as much as you previously were for retirement. So if you were putting away 10% before the divorce, now you may only be able to put away 5%.
If that's the case, examine your budget to make sure you've cut out as many extra expenses as possible. You might consider seeking a better-paying job or taking on some side work to make up the difference. You may also feel the time is right to ask for a raise, although that conversation should always be around job performance, not your personal financial situation.
If your savings rate hasn't been affected, consider bumping up your contributions to help rebuild your nest egg and prepare for a possible solo retirement. If you're 50 or older, you can put “catch-up" contributions into your retirement accounts—an extra $6,500 into a 401(k) (for a total of $26,000) and $1,000 more into an IRA (totaling $6,500), per 2020–21 IRS guidelines.
Your benefits could be affected
If you're married, once you reach age 62, you're entitled to your own Social Security benefits or one-half of your spouse's Social Security benefits as calculated at their full retirement age Opens in new window—whichever is higher.
If you're a nonworking spouse or the lower wage earner in your marriage, that's an important benefit. If you're divorced, the same rules apply, as long as you were married for 10 years or longer and the benefit recipient is not remarried. But if your marriage was shorter than 10 years, or if you remarry, you're no longer entitled to Social Security benefits from your ex-spouse, so plan accordingly.
You'll need to make a few legal changes
Once everything is finalized, don't forget to adjust your paperwork—including the beneficiaries on your retirement accounts and life insurance policies, and the people you've named in your estate planning documents. Otherwise, your ex-spouse may remain the person who can make decisions for you following a serious health crisis, or the beneficiary who gets the bulk of your assets if you die first.