Most married people in Texas spend their entire lives working toward a single, shared goal — retirement. Although divorce can complicate those plans, it does not mean that people should remain in an unhappy marriage to protect their retirement savings. Instead, focusing on ways in which to minimize the financial impact of ending a marriage can help each spouse pursue a happier and financially stable retirement.

According to the Center for Retirement Research, divorce at a later age can have a significant negative impact on retirement security. On average, divorced households have approximately 30 percent less net financial wealth than nondivorced households. Having less wealth directly correlates to a greater sense of insecurity in the retirement years, and even puts some people at risk. Just over half of all divorced households are expected to have a retirement income that is not sufficient for maintaining their standard of living.

The outlook is not all doom and gloom, though. Being aware of the associated risks gives people the opportunity to adequately prepare for and handle them. This includes considering settling a divorce outside of the courtroom, such as in mediation or arbitration. Doing so is usually quicker and more cost-effective than leaving everything up to a judge.

Handling retirement accounts correctly is also important for preserving financial security. When splitting a pension, 401(k) or other retirement account, individuals will need a Qualified Domestic Relations Order to avoid any unwanted fees or taxes. Depending on the length of the marriage, one person may also be able to claim Social Security benefits based on their ex’s work history.

While it is true that divorce does come with a financial impact, it does not have to devastate people’s lives. Indeed, Texas couples who take a careful, meaningful approach to understanding their finances, retirement assets and other property can usually come out of the process with a secure financial foundation. Navigating this complicated side of family law can be difficult though, so it may be worthwhile to consider speaking with an experienced attorney.