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Social Security benefits after a divorce

Divorcees in Los Angeles might be surprised to find out that they are eligible to collect Social Security benefits based upon a former spouse's earnings records without engaging in any further dispute. Even after a subsequent marriage or decades of being single, these funds may be accessed assuming certain criteria are met by the claimant. Early knowledge of this can help with retirement planning and possibly impact asset division negotiations in an ongoing divorce.

One of the more contentious and complicated issues in the break-up of a long-term marriage is the division of funds set aside for retirement plans. While Social Security benefits are not usually part of the asset division process, a lower-earning party could receive benefits on the ex-spouse's record under certain conditions. Those include the marriage having lasted at least ten years and being unmarried at the time of the claim.

The benefits available total 50 percent of the ex-spouse's benefits at full retirement age and do not reduce or impact their benefits. Knowledge of this provision may or may not change decisions made during divorce negotiations, but it can certainly be beneficial for those close to retirement who spent much of their time during a marriage taking care of children and keeping a functional home.

For both older Los Angeles residents who are considering divorce and those long divorced, access to an ex-spouse's retirement benefits could make a significant difference in lifestyle. Divorce negotiations often result in a division of property that favors one spouse gaining real estate, equities and other assets while the other spouse keeps retirement plans intact. This can help avoid penalties for early withdrawal, but may cause problems later on. An experienced attorney can help with understanding how to factor in all assets and future benefits to ensure the best chance at a comfortable life afterwards.

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