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Will you be able to retire if your savings are in your ex’s name?

On Behalf of | Mar 16, 2022 | Property Division

If your marriage is unhappy or unsatisfying, you may fantasize about divorcing and spending your golden years alone. For many older adults, the only thing stopping them from pursuing happiness is financial fear. They believe that divorce will leave them impoverished or at least unable to afford retirement.

Maybe you were a part-time worker at never started your own retirement account. Maybe your spouse has a pension that they accrued with their employer or through years of military service. They may have deposited money every month into an existing retirement savings account, like a 401k, that was their account started before the marriage.

If all of those retirement savings or benefits are in your spouse’s name, will you be left with no savings if you file for divorce?

Who owns the account isn’t what matters

You feel like you have nothing because of your dependent financial status. However, your unpaid contributions around the home the willingness to put your career on the back burner are exactly why your spouse has succeeded so much in their career. Under the equitable division property division rule in Pennsylvania, you have the right to claim some of your spouse’s retirement account or pension benefits when you divorce.

Even if the account is in their name and they started it before you got married, you still have a right to a portion of the account balance when you divorce. You do not need to receive funds directly from the retirement account or pension, as the judge dividing your property should consider your share of those resources when splitting your other assets. 

You can claim Social Security, too

Even if you have not made enough contributions to Social Security to claim retirement benefits or can only claim a minimal amount, you can claim retirement benefits based on your spouse’s Social Security contributions. As long as you stayed married for at least 10 years, their benefits can help support you until you remarry. That claim won’t even diminish the benefits that they receive.

When you understand the resources available to you, you will feel less uncertain about your financial future if you do divorce. Learning more about the rules that govern property division when you divorce will lead to better plans and a better approach to negotiations or court.

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