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Social Security and its effect on divorce

Texas spouses who divorce may believe that financial overlapping will end after their decree is entered. However, spouses who were married for ten years before they officially received a divorce may be entitled to receive Social Security benefits that are based off of their former spouse's information.

A divorced spouse can collect such a benefit that is associated with his or her former spouse's work record as long as the divorced spouse meets certain criteria. For example, the divorced spouse must be 62 or older, currently be unmarried and be ineligible to receive a higher benefit based on his or her own work record. Additionally, the couple must have been divorced for at least two years. However, the former spouse does not have to currently be collecting benefits in order for the divorced spouse to begin collecting these benefits.

A divorced spouse can collect these benefits even if the former spouse is currently remarried. At the same time, this collection does not affect the former spouse's retirement benefits or his or her current spouse's benefits. In total, a divorced spouse may be able to receive as much as 50 percent of the former spouse's retirement benefit amount. This amount is reduced if the spouse collects prior to full retirement age. However, if the divorced spouse has a larger benefit amount, he or she will receive only the higher of the two benefit amounts.

The right to receive future Social Security benefits may may very well be a factor in negotiating a property division agreement during a divorce. A family law attorney may be able to explain how Social Security rules and regulations can affect a client.

Source: Huffington Post, "How Divorce Can Affect Your Social Security", Tim T. Miller, November 11, 2013

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