Divorce And Retirement Benefits: What You Need To Know

During your marriage, you and your spouse may have made plans and set goals for retirement. A divorce can have a profound impact on your retirement plans, so you should speak with your divorce lawyer about how to ensure you have access to your retirement accounts and benefits. Here are three things you need to know about your retirement benefits after a divorce.

Social Security

Even if you are divorced, you may be entitled to social security benefits through your former spouse. To qualify, you must be at least 62 years of age and remain unmarried. If you have remarried, you won't be able to receive benefits until your current marriage ends. Additionally, you will only be entitled to these benefits if you were married for 10 years or more.

Because these are a government benefit and not part of a personal account, social security benefits can't be cut off in the event of a divorce. This means that you will still be entitled to something after the divorce even if you don't have access to any other retirement accounts, provided you meet the requirements set forth by the government.

IRA Accounts

IRA accounts can be split between you and your spouse during a divorce. Your divorce attorney can help you come to an agreement about dividing these assets. To protect yourself from tax liability, you should consider taking your portion of the IRA and transferring it into a new IRA account in your name. Cashing out an IRA early to liquidate the assets can result in tax penalties, depending on the age and type of account.


If there is a pension that can be counted among your retirement assets, it can be split during the divorce. To split the pension payments, your lawyer will help you to obtain a court order. This should be done at the time of the divorce, even if you have not yet met retirement age. When your former spouse reaches the age to receive payments, your payments will be submitted directly to the pension account. Pension rules and laws vary from state to state, so be sure to discuss how to secure your portion of the pension benefits during your divorce proceedings.

Work with your divorce lawyer to take an inventory of your retirement assets so you can get a fair divorce settlement and still have assets that will help you once you reach retirement age.