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Don't neglect property division during Social Security divorce

While most Florida spouses look forward to parting ways with their spouse after their marriage comes to an end, this is not always the case. For some couples, divorce is a strategic financial planning move, albeit an unconventional one. For example, many spouses consider a divorce on paper that will allow one spouse to collect Social Security benefits based on his or her former partner's work record. While a valid strategy, this type of divorce still requires a thoughtful property division approach.

If an individual is nearing retirement age, he or she may wish to collect on a former spouse's Social Security record in order to allow his or her own benefits to continue to grow. In order to do so, the claiming party must be single, and also must have been married to the former spouse for a period of at least 10 years. In addition, the claiming spouse's own benefit amount must be less than that of the former spouse.

Therefore, it is possible for a happily married couple to decide to file for divorce in order to allow one or both spouses to claim Social Security benefits based on the earnings of a previous partner. However, it is important to understand that a divorce is a divorce, no matter what the motivating factors may be. This means that a thorough and carefully considered property division settlement should be part of the divorce process, even for couples who plan to continue living together in a committed relationship.

For those in Florida who are interested in learning more about this unconventional financial planning move, it is important to seek the advice of a family law attorney and preferable that each spouse be represented by separate counsel. He or she can review the couple's current financial standing, and help determine if a strategic divorce is a viable option. If so, the attorney can also advise on a fair property division settlement as part of the process.

Source: Forbes, "Should I Divorce To Get More Social Security Benefits From My Ex?", Laurence J. Kotlikoff, Aug. 19, 2016

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