There are so many things to track during a divorce that it’s easy to lose sight of the future. When you focus on your immediate problems like dividing assets, you may not think about what happens after your divorce. That can lead you to miss out on some significant benefits. There are certain accounts and perks that ex-spouses are still entitled to even after they’re no longer legally bound.
These post-divorce benefits can make a significant difference to your quality of life. Here’s what you need to know about aid you may keep after your split and which are most likely to last after your separation.
When Are Benefits Retained After Divorce?
A divorce or legal separation is intended to legally disentangle spouses. However, there are certain exceptions to this severance. For instance, despite getting a separation, it’s possible to maintain your access to certain employment benefits earned by your ex-partner.
These benefits are typically retained because they are considered marital property. That means that they can be split or awarded to you during the division of assets. They may be paid out in a bulk sum during the divorce, or they may continue to act as resources that you can access when you’ve met certain conditions. Either way, they can help you maintain the same quality of life you experienced during your marriage without being forced to remain in an unhappy relationship.
Benefits You May Receive Post-Divorce
So what benefits are most likely to remain or appear after a split? Here are the most common situations in which you’ll still receive money or other resources from your former partner even after you’re officially split.
One of the most significant sets of post-divorce resources comes from the military. Former military spouses are eligible to continue receiving military benefits such as insurance and retirement funds in certain situations. These include:
- Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP): Former spouses can be designated as SBP beneficiaries until they remarry, depending on the divorce agreement.
- Military retired pay: Military retirement pay can be divided as marital property during divorce.
- Healthcare: Any spouse who was married to a military member for at least twenty years of their military service remains eligible for TRICARE health coverage after divorce.
If you’re eligible for TRICARE after your split, you’re also eligible to retain your military ID, post exchange and commissary benefits
If you’ve been married for at least ten years, then you are eligible to collect Social Security spousal benefits on your ex-partner’s earnings as long as you are still single. If you were born on or after January 2nd, 1954, then when you file for Social Security, you will automatically receive the highest benefit tier for which you’re eligible, whether that’s your own or your ex-spouse’s. This means that you can retain some significant retirement benefits even after your split.
Depending on your spouse’s job, you may be eligible to receive retirement benefits even after your split. Qualified retirement accounts like 403(b)s and 401(k)s are often split with qualified domestic relations orders (QDROs) during asset division. These orders can split retirement benefits such as the actual funds and survivor resources.
If your spouse has a qualified retirement account, you can request a QDRO during your divorce. This may lead to a payout of 50% of the account’s growth during your marriage, which you can then reinvest in your own retirement accounts to support you in the future.
Pensions also fall under this category. Depending on what it includes, a pension may or may not be subject to a QDRO. Like other retirement plans, pensions are considered joint property since the unpensioned spouse is seen as supporting the pensioned spouse’s ability to earn that benefit.
Moving to a more personal type of support, alimony is a common post-divorce benefit. Also known as spousal support, alimony is money paid from a higher-earning person to their lower-earning ex-spouse.
Spousal support is not a guarantee. If you believe you should receive alimony in your divorce, you will need to demonstrate a need or reason. Common reasons for alimony orders include:
- You sacrificed your career to stay home and care for the house while your spouse worked.
- You turned down education to raise your children on your spouse’s behalf.
- You moved to a new city or state to support your spouse’s career.
- You need funds to support yourself while you retrain and re-enter the working world.
If the court determines that you need alimony, they will determine the amount and length of the order based on your respective incomes and the duration of your marriage.
If you share children with your former partner, you may be eligible for child support. Oregon determines child support by considering the amount of time each parent is responsible for the kids and the income of each parent. Support orders are typically awarded to the parent with greater custody or a lower income.
If you earn less than your ex-spouse but have primary physical custody of your kids, then you’re likely to receive child support from them. This money is a benefit specifically intended to make your kids’ lives better. The money can be spent on anything from food and clothes to school tuition to rent and car payments. As long as it’s supporting your children’s quality of life, it’s a valid use of these funds.
Make the Most of Post-Divorce Benefits
During your marriage, you’ve invested time and effort into supporting your family. According to Oregon and federal law, that means you’re eligible to receive certain benefits even after you’ve gotten divorced. Understanding the benefits that you retain is crucial if you’re to make the most of them in your new, single life.
If you’re considering a separation and you’re not sure what benefits you’re actually eligible for, reach out to an experienced divorce attorney. They can help you understand how divorce will affect your finances, what assistance you may be able to retain, and what to do to keep them. You deserve as much support as possible after your split, and the right lawyer will help you get it.