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Divorce & Social Security – What You Need to Know

In the stress of divorce, your thoughts might be focused on who gets the house, the kids and the cars. But a good divorce lawyer will remind you that you also need to consider your retirement, even if you are decades away from it.

So many Americans are behind where they should be in their savings that Social Security may become their primary income source after retirement. Your divorce can affect the amount of Social Security you ultimately receive.

Keep the following Social Security information in mind if you’re going through a divorce.

Collecting Benefits Based on Your Former Spouse’s Work Record

In instances where one spouse earned more than the other during the marriage, the spouse who earned less is entitled to Social Security at the rate of the higher paid spouse in some instances:

  • You have to have been married for at least 10 years.
  • You currently must be unmarried.
  • You must be at least 62 years old to collect the benefits, unless your ex-spouse is diseased. Then you can begin collecting benefits at age 60 if you wish.
  • If you are disabled and your former spouse is deceased, you can collect Social Security benefits as early as age 50.

Remarrying Can Affect Your Social Security Benefit

This is an important fact to keep in mind, because remarriage is quite common these days. In 2013, four out of every 10 marriages involved a spouse who had been married previously, according to the Pew Research Center.

Generally speaking, getting remarried discontinues your rights to claim Social Security benefits based on your former spouse’s work history, according to financial education website The Motley Fool. Instead, you’ll have spousal benefit eligibility from your new spouse, which typically takes effect after a year of marriage.

You Could Find Yourself Without Social Security Benefits

Let’s say you have not worked long enough during your life to accumulate your own Social Security benefits once you reach retirement age, and you and your spouse were married less than 10 years.

“This is an unfortunate situation where you will find yourself unable to claim spousal benefits,” says San Diego divorce lawyer John Griffith.

Our hope is that Social Security is just one piece of your retirement pie. If you’re contemplating divorce and thinking far enough ahead to wonder how it may affect your retirement years, you’re on the right track. You may need to consult a financial planner in addition to a divorce attorney to map out a plan for your future as a single person.

Please call (858) 345-1720 today for a complimentary consultation if you’re considering divorce and have questions. Or you can complete this online form and we will contact you.




Meet Your Dedicated San Diego Family Attorneys
Family Attorney John N. Griffith, CFLS
Family Attorney John N. Griffith, CFLS

Family Attorney, John N. Griffith, CFLS

John Griffith has practiced exclusively in the area of family law since 2009. John is a Certified Family Law Specialist certified as an expert in the area of family law by the California Board of Legal Specialization.


Family Attorney, Catie E. Young, ESQ.
Family Attorney, Catie E. Young, ESQ.

Family Attorney, Catie E. Young, ESQ.

San Diego family lawyer Catie Young has a wide range of litigation experience. She has worked in civil litigation. She has successfully represented clients in many areas of family law including child support, child custody, divorce and domestic violence. She has a unique approach to each child custody case, so clients of Griffith, Young & Lass tend to gravitate toward her in these cases.


Family Attorney Amy J. Lass, Esq.
Family Attorney Amy J. Lass, Esq.

Family Attorney, Amy J. Lass, Esq.

Amy Lass was born in New York and raised in San Diego, California. Amy graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in 2003 with a B.S. in Economics with a concentration in Enterprise Accounting and went on to earn her law degree from Thomas Jefferson School of Law and graduated cum laude in 2006. Amy takes a practical and cost considerate approach to the process while striving to balance the emotional needs and objectives of her clients.


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The Typical Divorce Process in California
Discovery of Assets & Obligations (1-3 months)
1 Complaint for Divorce Filed Start of litigation
2 Complaint is Served Varies, but usually shortly after the complaint is filed
3 Answer to Complaint Due 30 days from the date of service
4 Mediation Anytime, but usually after initial discovery
5 Temporary Hearing Usually early in the process
6 Late Case Evaluation / Judicial Hosted Settlement Conference Usually near the end of the case
7 Trial (If Needed) The goal is to settle, but if your case goes to trial, it could take months after the start of litigation.
We deliver results
I am beyond grateful for the entire staff at Griffith, Young, and Lass. I don't even call myself a client anymore, they are my friends that protected my family and fought with me, side by side.-Erik H., San Diego