During a divorce, we are often asked about splitting social security benefits.  Options about social security are determined by the Department of Social security directly.  If you have been married for more than ten years, you automatically qualify for a social security  benefits options.  You can collect retirement benefits on your former spouse’s social security record if you are at least age 62 and if your former spouse is entitled to or receiving benefits. If you remarry, you generally cannot 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 benefits as a widow/widower if the marriage lasted 10 years or more. Benefits paid to a surviving divorced spouse who is 60 or older will not affect the benefit rates for other survivors receiving benefits.

In general, you cannot receive survivor’s benefits if you remarry before the age of 60 unless the latter marriage ends, by death, divorce, or annulment.

If you remarry after age 60 (50 if disabled), you can still collect benefits on your former spouse’s record. When you reach age 62 or older, you may get retirement benefit on the record of your new spouse if they are higher. Your remarriage would have no effect on the benefits being paid to your children.

More information about social security benefits can be found at the social security website.



Retirement benefits are considered a marital asset.  The retirement benefits are divorced just like any other marital asset.  It is important to realize that retirement benefits do not have the same value as other assets because they are pretax dollars.  For example, 30,000 dollars of house equity is not equal to 30,000 dollars of retirement.  Retirement is befre tax.  as such, 30,000 dollars is worth about 20,000 dollars of house equity.

Also, only the amount of the retirement account accumulated during the marriage is divided in a divorce.  For example, if there is 75,000 dollars in the account and only 50,000 dollars was accumulated during the marriage only half of the 50,000 would be divided (25,000 dollars).  The court has the discretion to consider premarital retirement benefits as part of the marital estate to be divided, but it would be highly unlikely.

Retirement benefits would include profit sharing, defined benefit programs, IRA’s, and any other benefits available on retirement. Retirement benefits are typically divided in two different ways. The Court can determine the current fair market value of the benefit and offset that benefit against another marital asset, such as equity in a home. Alternatively, the Court may order the pension divided by a Qualified Domestic Relations Order. This order would split the retirement benefit and allow the recipient to maintain it in its current form until retirement age or cash out the benefit and pay the taxes and penalties on the award.

Determining whether retirement benefits are a marital asset to be divided can be complex. Any divorce involving retirement benefits can be serious. As such, a party to a divorce should consult with an experienced divorce lawyer to evaluate the situation.


If you are facing an uncontested divorce, a good divorce attorney can answer your questions with straight talk. Having the right divorce attorney on your side can relieve your stress during this difficult situation. Our attorneys have over 85 years of divorce experience.  Typical fees to retain attorney for a divorce case can be as little as 1,500 dollars. Considering the seriousness of this life changing event, it is extremely important to retain the services of an experienced attorney in the area of divorce.

Krupp Law Offices P.C. is located in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan and has the right divorce attorney for you. We represent clients in all divorce matters throughout West Michigan, , including the cities of Grand Rapids, Big Rapids, Ionia, Grand Haven, Stanton, Greenville, Wayland, Allegan, Holland, Newaygo, White Cloud, Fremont, Coopersville, Hastings, Middleville, Wyoming, and Rockford including Kent County, Ottawa County, Newaygo County, Ionia County, Mecosta County, Barry County, Montcalm County, and Allegan County Michigan. 

161 Ottawa NW Suite 404
Grand Rapids MI 49503
616-459-6636 or [email protected]

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