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Even after divorce, Social Security benefits may be available

People in New Jersey whose marriages last at least 10 years might also be able to draw on their former spouse's Social Security benefits after retirement. If they remarry, they might forfeit these benefits, but not always. If the former spouse is deceased, the remarriage happened after the person was 60 and the ex-spouse's benefits are higher than remarried partner's own benefits, then the person may draw on those benefits.

If a person has more than one ex-spouse, they can choose which former spouse's benefits they want to draw on as long as each marriage lasted longer than a decade and their own benefits are less than half that of a living spouse or less by any amount if the spouse is deceased. A person who is confused about their eligibility can also contact their local Social Security office. They will need the Social Security number of their former spouse along with a marriage certificate and divorce decree.

The age at retirement is also an issue. If a person takes early retirement, benefits are reduced. If the person is earning a certain amount of money as they get older, they might even be obligated to pay back the benefits they drew earlier.

In a high-asset divorce, it might be even more important that a person protect their financial interests. In some marriages with a high net worth, the majority of the wealth might be generated by one person. If the other person is a stay-at-home parent or has a significantly lower income, then a divorce might be financially devastating. A person in such a situation might want to discuss it with an attorney who may be able to develop strategies that help the person preserve some assets and financial security after the divorce. Usually, courts view a person in such a situation as having made significant contributions to the marriage even if their contributions were not financial.

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