Frankfort Law Group
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Family law and how Social Security is impacted by divorce

When an Illinois couple divorces, some of the family legal issues that come to the forefront include property division, spousal support (also referred to as alimony), child support and more. There are underlying factors that will also be important as part of the divorce settlement. One is Social Security. The Social Security Administration says that, of all American workers, 96 percent will receive Social Security. When they retire, these benefits can be imperative to making ends meet. In a divorce, this can be critical.

A large part of Social Security can be spousal benefits. For those who did not work or did not earn a large amount, that person can get as much as half of the benefits the other person is getting in Social Security. Divorce does not necessarily change that. Understanding important facts about divorce and Social Security is key. If various criteria are met, a person can still get spousal benefits from Social Security. They are: if the marriage lasted at least 10 years and the person is: unmarried; 62 or older; the former spouse is eligible to get Social Security either retirement benefits or disability; and the benefit is less than the benefit the spouse gets. The person can then get as much as half the retirement or disability through Social Security.

People who get married again will generally no longer be able to get the Social Security based on the spouse's record. If the subsequent marriage ends in divorce, the person can get the benefits again. For those who have their own retirement benefits, their benefits will be paid first and they will still be able to get benefits based on their spouse's record if the spouse's earnings are higher. There are other factors to consider like when the decision is made to collect the benefits, if the person is still working and more.

During and after a divorce, older people will want to think about retirement and Social Security and how the case will impact them financially. This is true for the spouse who worked and earned more and the other spouse. A law firm that handles family law issues and all its aspects should be called for guidance and help from the start to know how to protect certain assets and how much will be split in a case.

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