An issue to consider when divorcing is how the divorce will affect your ability to get social security benefits through the other spouses records. These issues can be especially important for older divorcing couples who are counting on social security benefits as part of their retirement plans. It is important to consult with your attorney regarding how the divorce may affect your right to receive social security benefits on your spouses record.

Ora Schwartzberg, a New Hampshire attorney and mediator, posted an e-newsletter titled "The Impact of Divorce on Social Security Survivor Benefits" that explains: 

There are two major types of Social Security benefits: retirement benefits and survivor benefits. In general, a divorced spouse who is eligible for survivor benefits would also be eligible for retirement benefits. Retirement benefits are monthly payments that represent a portion of what your former spouse receives monthly and is paid out while your spouse is still living. Survivor benefits are monthly payments that widows and widowers are entitled to when their spouse dies, assuming that the spouse worked long enough to have earned this benefit under the Social Security system.

In order to qualify for retirement benefits, you must have been married for at least 10 years. You can collect retirement benefits on your former spouse’s Social Security record if you are at least 62 years old and if your former spouse is entitled to or receiving benefits. Generally, if you remarry, you will not be able to collect benefits on your former spouse’s record unless your later marriage ends (whether by death, divorce, or annulment). 

If your divorced spouse dies, you can receive survivor benefits if the marriage lasted 10 years or more. Similar to retirement benefits, you may not be able to collect benefits if you are remarried unless your later marriage ends (whether by death, divorce or annulment). If you are at least 60 years old when you are receiving benefits, the amount of your benefits will not affect the other survivor’s benefits amount.

For more information on social security benefits, check out the Social Security Administration’s on-line help center here.