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Divorce and Social Security: A Few Considerations

In the realm of divorce, lots of considerations potentially pop up. Given the particular dissolution, child custody and support might be a primary concern. Perhaps spousal maintenance is front and center in negotiations between two soon-to-be exes. In a high-asset divorce, property division is obviously of key importance.

Seldom, though, is the topic of Social Security mentioned where divorce - and, often, remarriage - considerations arise.

For some people contemplating divorce, that omission can bring material - even dire - consequences, with the timing of a divorce having a potentially huge impact on spousal and survivor benefits. "People just don't know what they don't know," says Social Security Administration communications director Leslie Walker. "The closer you get to retirement age, the more you need to know the rules."

In a nutshell, the bottom line is this: The age of 60 is key and should set off warning bells and be underlined in bold for any person considering remarrying after a divorce. As Walker notes, a person remarrying before that age loses the ability to claim spousal or survivor benefits based on a former spouse. Waiting until after 60 to tie the knot retains all those benefits for life.

Being married for at least 10 years is also a benchmark to note for many people. Being married that long before divorcing enables a person to claim a spousal benefit from a former spouse who paid into the Social Security system.

Every divorce is different, with each having its unique fact pattern and concerns. An experienced family law attorney specializing in divorce can ensure that all material issues in a client's case are considered and that the client's best interests are fully promoted.

Related Resource: "Divorce can complicate Social Security claims" March 6, 2011

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