Half of the households in Ohio and around the country may struggle during retirement, according to an index developed by Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research. Unfortunately, the figures are even more alarming for those who have been through a divorce. Researchers say that this is largely because divorced spouses are no longer able to save money by sharing expenses. In addition, they may be facing important financial decisions for the first time.

Couples who divorce after decades of marriage may find it especially difficult to plan adequately for retirement. The problem also seems likely to get worse in the years ahead. While the overall divorce rate in the United States has remained fairly steady in recent decades, the number of couples aged 50 or older choosing to end their marriages doubled between 1990 and 2010. Many older divorced spouses rely on alimony payments to make ends meet, but changes to the nation’s tax laws could make spousal support negotiations far more contentious in the future.

The tax rules dealing with spousal support were changed by the Tax Cut and Jobs Act. Starting with new divorces in 2019, spouses who pay alimony will no longer be able to claim these payments as expenses on their tax returns. Furthermore, recipients will no longer be expected to pay income tax on the money they receive. Experts say that this could result in lower alimony awards as spouses who make these payments generally pay higher rates of income tax than the spouses who receive it.

Family law attorneys may pay particular attention to retirement planning issues and spousal support negotiations when their clients are at risk of being left financially vulnerable during their golden years. Attorneys could also call upon financial planners and tax experts to help divorcing couples avoid costly pitfalls and mistakes during property division negotiations.