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Some Massachusetts couples who are considering divorce might be worried about the impact a split can have on their retirement plan. This might be particularly concerning for spouses who have significantly less savings for their retirement than their ex-partner or who were depending on their spouse for retirement benefits. However, while retirement plans might need to change once a divorce is final, there is a way to ensure some of those savings are protected and waiting after the divorce.

During divorce, spouses can look at two ways they can protect or keep some retirement benefits. One is through their existing retirement accounts, and another is through Social Security. While working spouses with similar amounts in their retirement accounts can simply keep their accounts separate, for spouses with differences, there can be negotiation during the property division stage. For example, a spouse with less savings might negotiate to keep some of the savings acquired during the marriage through a qualified domestic relations order, also known as a QDRO. This order allows a spouse to transfer retirement savings to their ex.

When it comes to Social Security, there are some conditions to be met. For a spouse to claim some of their ex’s Social Security benefits, they must have been married at least 10 years before the divorce, they need to have been divorced at least two years, they cannot have remarried, and the spouse whose benefit is being claimed must have reached retirement age. Additionally, the Social security benefit of the person claiming their ex’s benefit must be less than what they would receive through their ex.

Residents of Massachusetts who are considering divorce might speak with a family law lawyer about the process, their options and how to proceed. The lawyer may help them fill out and file the correct forms and represent them during court appearances and negotiations.