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Social Security and divorce in North Carolina

When couples are ending their marriage, one of the key questions they might have is how the divorce will affect their ability to retire. A key component of many people's retirement income is their expected Social Security benefits. People whose own contributions have been insufficient may wonder if they will still be able to receive spousal or survivor's benefits based on their former spouse's contributions.

Divorce and remarriage both have the possibility of halting spousal and survivor's benefits eligibility. In order to qualify for spousal benefits, the prior marriage must have lasted at least 10 years, and the person must have remained single. In the event of remarriage, eligibility will based on the new spouse's work record.

The same rule generally applies for survivor's benefits, although a surviving spouse who is caring for a child under the age of 16 or one who is disabled may be eligible even if the marriage lasted less than 10 years. People who wait to remarry until after age 60 may still be able to collect survivor's benefits based on their former spouse's contributions.

Those who are planning to divorce may want to make their retirement a part of their discussion with their family law attorney. In the property division portion of the divorce decree, people should expect any retirement accounts that have received contributions during the marriage to be treated as marital property subject to division unless an agreement to the contrary is negotiated. A family law attorney can help to ensure that clients receive the portion to which they are entitled. If the client is the owner of a retirement account, it may be possible to help negotiate a property division agreement in which the client agrees to give up a larger share of a different asset.

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The Graham.Nuckolls.Conner. Law Firm, PLLC
321 Evans Street, Suite 200
Hendrix Building
Greenville, NC 27858

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