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Social Security spousal benefits and divorce

Eligibility for spousal Social Security benefits is an important consideration for Arizona residents who are preparing to divorce or who are preparing to remarry following a divorce. A spouse who reaches retirement age may be able to draw Social Security benefits based on the former spouse's contributions, but only if certain eligibility requirements are met.

In order to qualify for benefits based on a former spouse, the marriage must have lasted at least 10 years. An exception to this rule does exist for survivor's benefits, however, if the spouse is caring for a minor child under the age of 16 or one that is disabled.

People may want to consider the impact on their Social Security benefits when thinking about remarrying, as they are not eligible to claim benefits based on their prior marriage if they get married again. Instead, spousal benefits would then be based on the new spouse's contributions. People who remarry after age 60 are still eligible to apply for survivor's benefits, however. For others, it may make sense to remain single instead of remarrying.

People should not overlook their future eligibility for Social Security benefits when they are preparing to end their marriage. Complex community property division and divorce planning often requires a careful look towards future retirement. Those who are wanting to divorce may benefit by seeking the help of a family law attorney who can be able to provide assistance in a variety of ways. In addition to the determination of whether a certain asset is community property or separately owned by one of the parties, many couples have complex assets such as business interests that may be difficult to value. An attorney can assist in the negotiation of a comprehensive settlement agreement that addresses these and other issues.

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