Though retirement may be the last thing you are thinking of when getting a divorce, it’s good to know that there may be some benefits that you accrued during your marriage.

Even if retirement is far off, the following benefits are worth investigating now for when the time comes.


Derivative Social Security Benefits

Believe it or not, you may actually be eligible for Social Security benefits from a marriage that has long been dissolved. However, as with many government benefits, there are a complex set of rules.

Generally speaking, if your ex-spouse is still living, then you may qualify to receive derivative benefits on your ex-spouse’s record if you were married for at least 10 years, you are 62 years or older, and you are unmarried. Also, your ex-spouse must be eligible for Social Security benefits.

If all those things line up, then you may receive whichever benefit is higher when comparing the Social Security benefits of you and your ex-spouse. You are not allowed to collect two benefits – just whichever one is higher.

If you remarry, you generally cannot collect benefits on your ex-spouse’s record.

If your ex-spouse has passed away, then you may still be able to collect benefits under a special set of conditions.

Qualified Domestic Relations Orders

If you are in the process of getting a divorce, you most likely have an interest in your soon to be ex-spouse’s retirement or pension plan that you acquired during your marriage. To properly split a retirement plan or pension, you may need what is called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (or “QDRO,” pronounced qua-dro).

A QDRO is a court order that creates or recognizes the existence of an ex-spouse’s right to receive a portion of the employee spouse’s retirement plan or pension. QDROs apply only to employee benefit or pension plans subject to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”), but because many plans are, in fact, subject to ERISA, it is worth researching up front whether you will need a QDRO to divide your and your soon to be ex’s retirement plans.

There are several methods of determining each party’s share of the retirement plan. One of the relevant factors is whether the participant was already enrolled in the retirement plan prior to the date of marriage. If the employee spouse started participating in the retirement plan after the date of marriage, then each spouse’s share is usually fifty percent.

Want to Know More About Retirement Benefits After a Divorce?

Rules around Social Security benefits and retirement plans are not simple, and individual situations always vary. If you’d like to know more, contact Park Family Law. Whether you need an experienced mediator to amicably and efficiently settle your case or an aggressive litigator to get you the best result in court, Park Family Law can assist you every step of the way.