What happens to your retirement benefits during divorce?

Getting divorced, especially as you near retirement, may rattle your plans for the future. Having a tentative idea of what will happen to shared benefits can help you plan ahead.

Knowing your rights, restructuring your budget and setting goals can all help you minimize the financial repercussions of splitting from your spouse.

Company-sponsored plans

Unless you have a prenuptial agreement saying otherwise, you and your spouse will most likely share the value of retirement benefits. If you are the spouse with the company-sponsored retirement plan, you can fill out a QDRO to provide instructions for your employer about how to split the benefits. If you are the spouse without a company-sponsored plan, you can also rely on a QDRO to show legal proof of your eligibility to collect benefits.

Several factors impact the division of shared assets. These include things like the length of your employment, any prior legal agreements, your spouse’s resources and tax implications for both parties. Similarly, you and your spouse will also share personal retirement accounts maintained jointly. Make sure you understand how to roll your portion into your own account without accruing penalties for early withdrawal.

Social security benefits

If you based a good portion of your retirement budget on social security benefits, you may feel worried about how a divorce will impact your plan. According to U.S. News, you can still collect a portion of your spouse’s social security benefits if certain conditions apply. These include the following:

  • Your marriage lasted a minimum of 10 years
  • You have not gotten remarried

When you anticipate splitting retirement benefits with your spouse you can start making new goals right away. Taking control of your finances may prevent the disappointment of getting to retirement and having no money.


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