When facing divorce, a couple is tasked with dividing their lives together including their assets and debts. For couples who are close to retirement age, this can mean dealing with pensions and 401k accounts. What many do not take into consideration, however, is that social security benefits may also become an issue. In certain divorces, a partner may be entitled to a portion of their partner’s Social Security Benefits. Talking with your Orlando Divorce Attorney can help you to understand the basics of these and other benefits.
Social Security: The Qualification Standards
You must meet certain requirements to obtain a share of your spouse’s benefits. Specifically, the Social Security Administration requires that divorced spouses meet four specific criteria:
- If your spouse has passed away, you must be 60 years of age or older;
- You must not have re-married;
- Your marriage would have had to have lasted at least 10 years;
- You must be found to be entitled to receive more from their contributions then they are entitled to receive from yours.
Deciding Whose Social Security Benefits Should Be Claimed
Determining how to best claim benefits is normally done on a case by case basis. Your Orlando Divorce Attorney will explain that there is no set answer because there are many variables involved. You may not know if you should collect your own social security benefits or if you should utilize those from your partner. If you have paid into the system yourself, you may have the choice of your benefits or your spouses. In some instances, claiming spousal benefits at age 66, then switching over to personal benefits at age 70 gives you the most benefits.
Social Security and Alimony In Divorce Cases
Social security benefits are also a subject of contention in alimony cases. Social security benefits being paid to one or both of the parties is income. Income is at the center of every alimony dispute. Florida Statute 61.08 clearly sets forth the factors that a court must consider in an alimony case. The most relevant factors that cause social security benefits to play a role in alimony cases as set forth in Florida Statute 61.08 are:
- The financial resources of each party, including the non-marital and the marital assets and liabilities distributed to each.
- All sources of income available to either party, including income available to either party through investments of any asset held by that party.
These factors clearly reference “financial resources” and “all sources of income” clearly require the court to look at the social security benefits of each party and how they may be distributed post-divorce. Therefore, it is critical that all issues related to your divorce and social security benefits need to be thoroughly analyzed.
Social Security and Child Support
Another aspect of a divorce case where social security benefits can play a critical role is child support. Child support is calculated based on each party’s net income. Social security benefits are income, and therefore, the benefits being paid to the former spouse or those paid to the child incident to the former spouse being paid social security benefits are income and are included in the calculation of child support. Therefore, Social security benefits can play a critical role in calculating child support.
Your Orlando Divorce Attorney Can Guide You Through Retirement Issues
If you are nearing retirement age and contemplating divorce, seeking the counsel of a knowledgeable attorney is the best way to ensure that all your retirement issues are addressed. You want to be able to secure the benefits owed to you, as well as the financial protection that you deserve both after divorce, and after retirement. Improper planning could allow a divorce settlement to stand in the way of that.
Contact The Virga Law Firm Today
If you have questions concerning your divorce, retirement and Social Security Benefits, be sure to contact our Orlando Divorce Attorneys immediately so that we can schedule you a free consultation and help guide you through the process. Call today at 800-822-5170.