With the arrival of a new year, some people in unhappy relationships begin to look toward a new beginning. If you are considering divorce in 2014, you likely have lots of questions. When it comes to financial issues, there are many things to consider in a divorce, and one important financial aspect can be easy to overlook — Social Security.
There are limitations on when and how much an ex-spouse may receive benefits after divorce. According to the SSA, you can receive benefits based on your ex-spouse’s status if:
Your marriage lasted 10 years or longer;
You are age 62 or older;
You are not remarried;
Your ex-spouse is entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits; AND
Your benefit based on your own work record would be lower than your benefit based on your ex-spouse’s record.
As a divorced spouse, you may receive up to 50 percent of your ex-spouse’s full benefit. You must have been divorced for at least two years in order to begin collecting benefits. If you remarry, you cannot collect the ex-spouse’s benefits, unless and until your later marriage ends. Also, if your ex-spouse dies, and you meet all of the criteria above, you may be able to collect “survivor benefits” of up to 100 percent of the ex-spouse’s benefit.
If you are considering divorce and uncertain about your financial options, remember that Social Security benefits may be available to you based on your spouse’s work record. Spend some time perusing the SSA website and consult an expert if you have further questions about your circumstances.
Most Americans have probably heard that the national divorce rate is somewhere between 40 and 50 percent. We’re used to that scary number. But many who haven’t been through a remarriage might not know that the divorce rate for remarriages is even higher. I recently encountered an article in the Huffington Post, citing a divorce rate of 60 to 67 percent for second marriages (at least one spouse married before) and 70 to 73 percent for third marriages (at least one spouse married twice before). Those are rough odds, and to the uninitiated, it may seem counterintuitive. Those who remarry should be older and wiser, and should know themselves and their needs better, right? They’ve been down the road of marriage before, so shouldn’t they understand the stakes and the pitfalls?
All of that may be true, but there are also a number of complicating factors that uniquely threaten remarriages. The HuffPost article addresses a number of psychological factors that may play a role, such as fear of being alone and looking for a quick fix after a difficult divorce. Possibly the biggest complication is dealing with children and challenging exes on one or both sides of the new family. Those who have successfully blended families know that it takes a lot of love, patience, and hard work.
The point of knowing and sharing the statistics about remarriage is not to throw cold water on post-divorce relationships or second and third marriages. It’s simply to note how important it is to think about the realities of remarriage for you and your situation. What factors in your life are likely to make things different this time around? How will you and your next spouse deal with those things together? Nobody wants to visit a divorce lawyer at all, much less for more than one case in a lifetime. It takes courage and thoughtfulness to start over, so take your time and address the challenges honestly so that you can beat the odds the next time around.