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The interplay of divorce and Social Security

Many Texas residents have likely heard that famous actors Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck appear to be ending their marriage. The pair has indicated that they plan to complete their divorce prior to having been married for 10 years, dividing up assets worth nearly $150 million.

One interesting aspect is that by divorcing before their 10th anniversary, they will be forfeiting the right each have to receive spousal benefits through Social Security when they retire. While with their wealth it is unlikely either of them will need to rely on Social Security to fund their retirement, it of course plays a big factor for many other couples.

In many marriages, one spouse earns more than the other. Having the ability to elect to receive Social Security benefits based on the higher wage-earning spouse's contributions is thus often important. Divorced couples who were married for 10 years or longer can claim the higher spousal benefit amount even though they are divorced. They lose that right if they do not stay married for at least a decade, however.

When people are thinking about divorce legal issues, they often do not consider such things as their future eligibility for Social Security benefits. It is important to consider those benefits , however, as well as to make retirement planning a part of their divorce negotiations and future goals. Those who are near to their 10-year anniversary may want to wait until after they reach it before filing for divorce. People may want to discuss with a family law attorney about the best timing in which to file. The attorney may also consider using the future benefits when negotiating property division and spousal support.

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