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Social Security spouse benefits and divorce

California residents going through the divorce process understand that a divorce is going to have an impact on their financial well-being. As opposed to living on two incomes, the divorcing spouses will now need to rely solely on their income. This can require one or both of the spouses making some drastic changes in their standard of living. Some individuals may be concerned about the impact their divorce will have on their ability to collect Social Security payments from their ex-spouse.

It may be a surprise to many, but according to the Social Security Administration, divorce does not automatically prevent spouses from collecting Social Security spousal benefits. For many spouses, especially those who made substantially less than their ex-partner, this may be welcome news. Of course, since the Social Security Administration is involved, there are some criteria that must be met before a divorced individual can get spousal benefits.

The first requirement is the length of time the couple was married prior to the divorce. The Social Security Administration sets the minimum limit at 10 years. However, just being married 10 years is not enough. The spouse claiming special benefits will have to remain single after the divorce, or they might get remarried but then have their second marriage terminate in death, divorce or annulment.

The collecting spouse will only get benefits if they are at least 62 years of age and if their spouse qualifies for their own benefits. This means that the spouse would have to be at least 62 years of age. These are just a few of the Social Security benefits rules for divorced couples.

A family law attorney may advise a high-asset divorce client on things like Social Security benefits, shared accounts, property division laws and other practical issues that come up during the divorce. An attorney may be able to help with drawing up documents, settling agreements and setting up custody schedules for parents with children.