Many people don’t think about Social Security when it comes to divorce, but it does matter. As an ex-spouse, you may be entitled to spousal benefits on your former spouse’s record if you’ve been married for at least ten years. If you’re close to your tenth wedding anniversary and thinking about getting a divorce, wait to file for divorce until after your tenth wedding anniversary passes. Your retirement benefits must be less than 50 percent of your ex-spouse’s retirement benefits for this strategy to make sense. If your retirement benefits are worth more, you would get your retirement benefits instead of ex-spousal benefits.
Spousal benefits are equal to 50 percent of your ex-spouse’s retirement benefits at his or her full retirement age if you wait until full retirement age to collect them. In other words, if your ex-spouse collects reduced retirement benefits before reaching full retirement age, you won’t be penalized for it. You’ll still get the full 50 percent of his or her retirement benefits if you wait until you reach full retirement age before you begin receiving your monthly spousal benefit checks.