There's more: Many newly single people will have to adjust to a higher tax rate.
Men or women who are forced to pay alimony will have that much less to store away for their retirement. And singles will likely find themselves with access to a smaller line of credit than when they were married.
Yet, there are some retirement savings advantages to divorce, said Louise Nixon, president of QDRO Counsel, a California- based firm that focuses on the division of retirement benefits. You'll need to use a court order known as a domestic relations order, or Q.D.R.O., to reach those silver linings.
If you do, the nonparticipating spouse of a 401(k) can typically receive funds from their ex's account as cash and not have to pay a tax penalty for early withdrawal, Nixon said. Those funds will still be subject to regular income taxes. (Sanzenbacher at Boston College said people should avoid spending this money and keep it for their old age. Nixon said some people will want to use the funds to pay off debt or buy a house).
If it was your 401(k), it's still not all bad.
"The benefit for the participant after divorce, [is] he or she has the job and will continue to accrue benefits under whatever plans are offered by that company," QDRO Counsel's Nixon said. "One hundred percent of those post-divorce benefits belong to the participant."
Once the dust is settled after a divorce, Sanzenbacher said, "assess where you are in respect to your retirement savings."
Nixon said many of her clients come to terms with the fact that they'll need to adjust to their new status.
"I hear people say, 'I was planning on retiring. Now I have to work five more years,'" she said.