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Claiming a spouse's Social Security benefits after divorce

California couples who are moving toward divorce have a multitude of issues to consider, and a wide range of decisions that must be made. Among these is the matter of property division, which involves dividing up shared assets. For many, retirement planning plays a crucial role in the divorce process.

When a marriage is coming to an end, the best time to address retirement needs is during the divorce process. Spouses who fail to include this aspect of their future financial planning are likely to regret that choice after the divorce is final. In some cases, they may find themselves scrambling to fund their own retirement needs.

An example is found in the concern over how to claim Social Security benefits from a former spouse. It is possible to do so, but applicants must meet a set of criteria that depends on their unique situation. In all cases, the claiming spouse must be unmarried in order to tap into the Social Security benefits of their ex. If the former spouse has not yet begun claiming his or her own benefits, the divorce must have been final for at least two years and the claimant must be at least 62 years of age.

When planning for divorce, it is imperative to address issues surrounding retirement funding. While it is easy to become mired in struggles over which party gets to keep the house and the family pets, in most cases the retirement savings are a better overall target. Having the ability to claim against a former souse's Social Security benefits is a nice option to have, but it should by no means be a California resident's only source of retirement funding.

Source: Fox Business, "Divorce Doesn't have to Separate You from Benefits," Dr. Don Taylor, March 13, 2013

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