Millions of Americans are now approaching their retirement age, but if they are unhappy in their marriage, they may simultaneously be mulling a divorce. This can have a significant impact on all aspects of a person's financial life, including their plans for their golden years.

Divorces can, of course, be trying times regardless of whether the decision to split was arrived at mutually or driven by acrimonious circumstances, and for this reason can deeply affect not only finances now, but in the future as well. For one thing, there will be the necessity to divide up not only physical assets like a home, automobiles, and household items, but also pensions, stocks, life insurance and so forth. In these cases, you might have to cede a significant portion of your retirement savings in even the best-case scenarios, and that can set you back several years or more in your planning. Experts note that many people who go through particularly trying divorces may actually even give up on making sure their finances are in order.

In some cases, the results of a divorce settlement - such as alimony and child support payments - may be quite damaging to their current finances, and even force them to start tapping their retirement savings as a means of making ends meet. This can be doubly damaging, because not only would they be reducing the amount they have to live on when they do retire, but they will also face a sizable penalty for withdrawing from these accounts before reaching legal retirement age, which will put them further behind where they want or need to be.

If you want to ensure your retirement savings are secure as you go through a divorce, you may want to make sure the way in which you and your spouse will divide up the money is written into a settlement agreement. This will ensure that you have the legal right to money you've already put away, and will also know what to expect financially going forward. By doing so, you might also be able to figure out how considerably you will need to increase your retirement contributions to get back to the levels you were at before the marital trouble, so that you can remain on track to stop working on the schedule you set for yourself years ago.