Equitable distribution of financial assets often is a big part of any divorce case. Social Security benefits are financial assets that often go overlooked, and that could cause financial strain during retirement years. New Jersey divorce law enables a spouse to obtain a portion of their ex’s Social Security benefits to offset many years of support at home.
About 21% of married couples in New Jersey and throughout the country get 90% of their retirement income from Social Security benefits. About half of the nation’s unmarried elderly population likewise get the vast majority of retirement income from Social Security benefits. That makes it critically important for people who were married for many years to ensure a fair distribution of Social Security benefits in order to obtain a properly funded retirement.
If a marriage lasts at least 10 years and only one spouse earned the majority of household income, the non-working spouse could qualify for a portion of Social Security benefits. That is because spousal support inside the home enables spousal income outside of the home. If the spouse who worked marries again, the divorced spouse still earns a portion of the Social Security benefits. A spouse who did not work and remarries does not retain any valid claim on the former spouse’s Social Security benefits. The longer the marriage lasted beyond 10 years, the more the former spouse can earn, up to half of the available benefit.
Whether a person is the spouse who worked to earn the Social Security benefits or the spouse who provided support at home, it’s important to be aware of these benefits during the divorce settlement. An experienced New Jersey family law attorney may work to help ensure a fair distribution.