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Social Security benefits following a Colorado divorce

Colorado spouses who divorce often look back and wish that they had made different choices during the negotiation process. In many cases, emotions interfere with one's decision-making faculties, and choices are made without an eye toward long-term financial goals. One aspect of divorce that often suffers is retirement planning, and how the division of assets can support or undermine one's retirement funding.

One such issue involves the ability of one spouse to collect on the other's Social Security benefits. In order to do so, the collecting spouse must be unmarried or widowed. It is possible to begin collecting on these benefits even if the former spouse has not yet begun collecting his or her own share, as long as the divorce has been final for at least two years and the collecting spouse is at least 62 years of age.

Another consideration involves multiple exes. When there are two or more former spouses, the best course of action is to determine which ex has the better wage history, and therefore will have greater Social Security benefits. While it is not possible to claim benefits from multiple spouses at the same time, it is permissible to choose the spouse with the greatest benefits and collect on their record.

While receiving a portion of a former spouse's Social Security benefits can bring in additional retirement income, this approach is not the best way to plan for one's later years. When negotiating a Colorado divorce settlement it is imperative to pay attention to the value of retirement investments such as IRAs or employer-funded accounts. These assets can provide far better income during retirement than a portion of a former spouse's Social Security benefits. During the negotiation process, care should be given to ensure that all options are fully researched before a settlement is reached.

Source: Fox Business, "Divorce Doesn't have to Separate You from Benefits," Don Taylor, March 13, 2013

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