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How divorce may benefit one, many years afterwards

When a marriage comes to an end, it is likely that both parties may be more focused on the present and immediate future, rather than the long-term outlook. Even if one does look further ahead, the chances are that it will be things such as insurance policies that come under consideration, possibly because they are at least rooted in the present. California residents may be surprised to learn that, even if one goes through a divorce earlier in life, there are times in one's future when that earlier marriage may become a potential financial bonus.

It is quite common for one spouse to put off things like going back to college or following a career, in order to look after the home and children. Typically, but not always, this may be the lower income earner or the two. Sometimes, a California individual who puts his or her life on hold in this manner may only begin to carve out a life for himself or herself following a divorce. But what of those earlier years of nurturing and caring for a family - do they count for nothing?

Not necessarily. In cases where the marriage has lasted for a minimum of 10 years, a divorced spouse may qualify for social security benefits later in life, based on the income of the higher earning party. This divorced spouse benefit may give one options that could potentially increase his or her income quite considerably. If one has been divorced more than once, and each marriage lasts the minimum 10 year period, then this benefit will only be based upon the former spouse with the higher income.

Such financial matters can be quite complex, even more so when drawing up divorce papers, so seeking advice appropriate to one's own circumstances is important. The right to claim Social Security benefits based upon the income record of a current or former spouse is a right that exists regardless of any divorce agreement. With this in mind, California residents who file for divorce when nearing retirement age may wish to consider the potential financial impact any benefits may have when working out their settlements. While such a claim will not impact the Social Security benefits of the spouse whose employment record is used, the claiming spouse could achieve a better financial outlook in the long term.

Source:, "Revenge of the Ex-Spouse - Social Security Style", Gail Buckner, Sep. 14, 2015

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