Many Texas divorces affect the Social Security benefits of one or both parties. Social Security tends to be an asset that is not as often thought about as more tangible benefits like real property or investments. Even so, understanding the impact a divorce has on Social Security is a vital part of post-divorce financial planning, especially for those over the age of 62.
The most important factor in Social Security after divorce is the timing. If the marriage lasted 10 years or longer, people can claim their former spouse's benefits on their record. This is an important fact, and it may mean that delaying a divorce until the 10-year mark makes the best financial sense if it is possible for a couple to do so. People can also claim 100 percent of their former spouse's benefit upon that person's death. This holds true even if the decedent remarried and left that new spouse behind.
Once people turn 62, they can begin taking monthly withdrawals. This is true even if their former spouse is still working or has remarried. The only thing that exempts people from collecting their spouse's benefit in standard cases is if they themselves remarry. That is still not quite the end of the line because a second divorce will change the rules yet again.
Given the significant financial impact Social Security benefits have, it is worth ensuring that a person gets the maximum benefit allowable after a divorce. A family law attorney may be able to help clients understand how a divorce will impact their Social Security benefits, either now or in the future when they start to collect. Complications from a second marriage and divorce may also require additional legal insight.