As a dependent spouse, you gave up a career and financial Independence to support your spouse. Whether you took care of the house or raised a family, your unpaid contributions are what made their professional success. That sacrifice also means that you are at a financial disadvantage when you file for divorce.
Your earning potential will be lower than your spouse’s, you will have fewer resources to your name. What kind of support are available to a dependent spouse planning for retirement during or after a divorce?
Pension and retirement savings
Even if you did not directly contribute to the pension account that your spouse accrued during your marriage, you still have a right to claim a portion of its value in a divorce. The same is true for retirement savings accounts. With the right paperwork from your divorce, you can split even tax-sheltered accounts without incurring a penalty.
Social Security retirement benefits
You may not have worked for years, meaning you have not made significant contributions to Social Security. Even if you did work, you may have only had a part-time job or earned a fraction of what your spouse did.
Thankfully, your status as the dependent spouse of someone who has accrued significant Social Security benefits can help you qualify for retirement benefits. You can submit a claim for retirement benefits based on your spouse’s income either to augment your own, lower benefits or to support you because you have not accrued any. You making the claim will not diminish your ex’s right to claim those benefits.
Spousal support or alimony
If it will be some time before your ex retires or if they have retirement income that you cannot directly divide in the divorce, the courts may order alimony so that you have some ongoing income even if you can’t work.
Long-lasting marriages can increase your chances of receiving alimony. So too can health issues that prevent you from working or long-term responsibility for a child with special needs whose care prevents you from working.