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Social Security could benefit lower-earning spouses in divorce

People seeking a divorce in Georgia might need to mingle retirement planning with their financial decisions about a divorce settlement. A spouse who earned substantially less than a partner should investigate how Social Security benefits will be calculated upon reaching retirement age. People in marriages that last for at least 10 years could gain additional benefits by making a claim upon an ex-spouse's earnings.

Multiple rules influence the eligibility for collecting additional money from an ex-spouse's Social Security benefits. A new marriage generally disqualifies someone from collecting benefits earned through a previous marriage although the dissolution of a subsequent marriage might enable someone to qualify again.

Timing represents another important factor. A person will need to learn the amount available through an ex-spouse's Social Security retirement. This amount needs to be compared to benefit amounts available to the person as calculated at early retirement, upon reaching retirement age or after delaying the collection of benefits beyond retirement age. A person with low earnings who expects a low retirement check might come out ahead when qualifying for a portion of the ex-spouse's benefit. A delayed retirement, however, might give the person enough credits to receive a higher benefit.

The advice of a financial planner and an attorney may help empower a person navigating these financial decisions at the end of marriage. Someone married to a high-earner may learn about rights to certain assets and spousal support by consulting an attorney. During a high-asset divorce, an attorney might strive to identify all marital assets and challenge attempts to limit distributions that a person has a right to collect. If private negotiations do not produce an equitable settlement, an attorney may be able to petition a court to make decisions on the case.

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