Collaborative law provides an opportunity for couples who wish to seek a more amicable divorce a method to do so by working together. In a collaborative divorce, Maryland spouses typically work with family law professionals who help them reach mutual agreement on decisions like child custody, child support, alimony and property division issues which could include items like retirement benefits. One such important retirement benefit to be considered during the collaborative law process is that of Social Security benefits.

Many people may not realize that they could potentially receive Social Security benefits based upon a former spouse’s benefits if that amount would be greater than anything that they would be eligible to receive on their own. Several conditions do apply to whether this will actually hold true. The marriage must have lasted for at least 10 years and the former spouse hoping to seek benefits must be at least 62 years old, be currently unmarried and not able to receive more benefits on the merits of their own record.

Furthermore, in the event that an ex-spouse dies, the surviving ex could still be eligible to receive Social Security benefits based upon the former spouse’s record if they are at least 60 years old or are 50 years old as well as being disabled. It is important to keep in mind, though, that the Social Security Administration will adjust an ex-spouse’s retirement benefits if they become eligible to receive higher benefits based upon their own employment record. In the event that their own benefits remain lower than a former spouse’s benefits, however, they will receive a combination that adds up to the higher amount.

Maryland spouses who are going through the collaborative law process and are particularly worried about retirement benefits may wish to be sure that they have a full understanding of the laws that apply. This could help them as they negotiate their divorce amicably while still making sure that their rights are protected as much as possible. That way each spouse will have a clear understanding of potential retirement issues that could crop up in the future.

Source: CNN Money, “How does divorce affect Social Security benefits?” Austin Kilham, Jan. 1, 2013