When a divorce is filed, the parties can either litigate the matters before the Court or can agree to terms and have the agreement Ordered by the Court. There are many issues that divorce addresses, including child custody, child support, parenting time, and property issues.
When dividing property, often, retirement benefits of the parties are reviewed and possibly divided. For example, if one party receives the marital residence and equity as a part of the divorce, the other party might get a portion of that person’s 401(k) to offset the house, for an equal property division.
However, issues related to Social Security work differently. Social Security benefits are not Court Ordered, and if a spouse is entitled to same as a Social Security retirement or disability benefit, they may apply for same.
For parties who are married 10 years or longer, even after divorce and absent a Court Order, the ex-spouse may be entitled to Social Security benefits. For example, an ex-husband may collect benefits as a divorced spouse based on a portion of the retirement benefits amounts for the ex-wife. There are limitations and restrictions, which are not explored in detail herein. The amount of benefits may be up to one-half of the ex-spouse’s full retirement amount if you start receiving benefits at your full retirement age.
This does not affect the benefits to the ex-spouse or his/her spouse if they have remarried. However, if you, as the ex-spouse, remarry, you may not be able to collect the benefits related to your ex-spouse. Even if your ex-spouse has not applied for retirement benefits, if they are available to them, you may still be able to receive an amount, if you have been divorced for at least 2 years.
We hope that this blog post has been helpful in exploring Social Security benefits and potential divorce issues outside of the Court’s Order. This blog is not intended as legal advice. Seeking Counsel to help you determine any benefit you may be entitled to is encouraged. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. practices throughout the state of Indiana. This blog post was written by attorney, Jessica Keyes.