How Changes in the Florida Retirement System will Affect Your Divorce

In May, Governor Rick Scott signed into law changes to the Florida Retirement System (FRS), which will take effect July 1, 2011. The changes will affect state and county employees who are divorcing in two ways:

  1. Florida’s child support calculations allow you to deduct from your gross income mandatory contributions to retirement plans. Participants in FRS are now required to contribute 3%; therefore, their net income should be lowered in the child support calculations.
  2. A retirement plan, including FRS, is an asset that needs to be divided in a divorce. FRS participants used to receive an annual 3% cost of living adjustment based on their years of service for their benefits, which increased the overall value of the retirement plan. The new law changes how the formula incorporates a participant’s years of service, which decreases the percentage below 3% and makes the percentage specific to each participant. The effect is a lower overall value.

3 Money Things to Consider for Your Divorce

Divorces are extremely difficult emotionally; they are also difficult financially. Most divorcing couples only consider their emotional need to end the relationship, and they don’t consider the financial challenges.

Here are 3 money things to consider for your divorce.

  1. Do your budget. There’s that dreaded word… budget. You knew that as soon as you read the word “money” that “budget” would soon follow. You can’t escape the reality, though. Most families can’t support one household, and after the divorce, you’re expected to support two. Review every expense and know where your money is going. Reduce them as much as possible. There are plenty of good classes, books, articles, and internet resources. You have to figure out your budget.
  2. Consider your house. You or your spouse may want to keep the house. Typically, that desire is either for the benefit of the children or because of an emotional attachment to the house. You need to take a hard look at the money part of that decision. Can you afford the carrying expenses? Can you afford to refinance? You both may be in a better financial position if you sell the house and purchase one that is more affordable.
  3. Check Health Insurance. Most families have a family health insurance policy. When the marriage ends, so does the policy for one of the spouses. The spouse who is losing the insurance coverage needs to check on the costs of COBRA and of some other replacement policy. You need to know what you’re going to do before the divorce is final.