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Social Security considerations during divorces

When New Jersey couples get divorced, many are concerned about how to divide their financial assets. In addition to retirement accounts, bank accounts and other assets, people should also think about their Social Security benefits.

People may be eligible to claim Social Security benefits based on their former spouse's earnings record rather than their own. This may make sense for those who earned less during their career or did not work at all because they stayed home to raise a family. If their former spouses' retirement benefits are higher than what they would receive through their own work records, then it makes sense for them to claim spousal benefits.

In order to claim spousal benefits through the Social Security Administration, a person must have been married to his or her former spouse for at least 10 years. He or she must also not have remarried. The spouse must qualify for Social Security benefits, and the person who wants to claim benefits based on the spouse's earnings record must be at least 62 years old. The former spouse's own retirement benefits will not be decreased because the other person claims the amount under his or her earnings record.

People who are facing the end of a marriage that has lasted for decades will likely not be concerned with child custody or visitation when their offspring have grown and moved out. However, the financial considerations will be key, especially as the couple nears retirement age. An attorney can often protect a client's future through a judicious negotiation of property division and alimony matters.

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