Delaying Divorce For Social Security Retirement Reasons

The Social Security retirement benefits program sometimes is a factor in a married couple's decision to postpone their divorce. In two types of situations, a delay helps a person experience important advantages. Each individual will want a divorce lawyer for legal representation and to provide counsel throughout the proceedings.

Age Considerations

Qualified U.S. residents can begin receiving their retirement benefits at age 62 if they so choose. If one spouse is nearing age 62 and would have difficulty living independently without that money, postponing the divorce would be advantageous. Agreeing to this is a courteous action by the other spouse.

Sometimes both individuals are in this situation, making it especially reasonable for them to wait. 

Years of Marriage

Another factor is related to the federal 10-year marriage law connected with Social Security retirement. A person can apply for partial benefits under the ex-spouse's account if they were married for at least 10 years. The ex-spouse's benefit amount does not decrease under the arrangement. This is a less common choice than the one in which divorce is postponed for age-related considerations. People have various reasons for making this decision.

One marriage partner could be expected to earn substantially more money than the other over a lifetime's work, for instance. In that case, the lower-income individual might be better off collecting half of the ex-spouse's retirement benefits each month. Putting off filing for more than a year might be unreasonable, but a couple that has been married for 9-1/2 years may find a 6-month wait to be agreeable.

During the Delay

If the relationship is still relatively amicable, the couple could consider living in the same home until monthly benefit payments begin. If that is not feasible, they should consider filing a legal separation document to protect their interests if this is recognized in their state. A large majority of states have laws acknowledging legal separation. A divorce attorney can help with this step. Otherwise, the marriage partners will have to trust each other in regard to finances if they wait to file for divorce. 

Getting Started

A lawyer cannot represent both spouses due to conflict of interest concerns. It is in each person's best interests to consult with a separate attorney and ask questions about delaying the filing. They can learn about any potential problems connected with the decision and how to avoid them. Initial consultations can be scheduled by phone or online.