How a Divorce can Impact Your ConocoPhillips Benefits

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Getting divorced is statistically one of the most stressful events humans experience. As a recruiter I’ve had a lot of clients who’ve experienced a divorce and had their benefits significantly impacted. It’s always good to be prepared for the consequences of a divorce. So today I’ve decided to write a post for my ConocoPhillips clients who might be splitting up with their partner.

COP and Divorce

Are you divorced or in the process of divorcing? Your former spouse(s) may have an interest in a portion of your COP retirement benefits.

“Happily ever after” and “until death do us part” won’t happen for 28% of couples over the age of 50.3. Most couples saved together for decades, assuming they would retire together. After a divorce, they face the expenses of a pre-or post-retirement life, but with half their savings.(33)

What’s required?

Before you can start your pension—and for each former spouse who may have an interest—you’ll need to provide COP with the following documentation:

  • A copy of the court-filed Judgment of Dissolution or Judgment of Divorce along with any Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA)
  • A copy of the court-filed Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO)

You’ll need to submit this documentation to the COP online Pension Center

regardless of how old the divorce or how short the marriage.

IMPORTANT: If you don’t provide COP with the required documentation, your pension benefit could be delayed or suspended.

Social Security and Divorce

You can apply for a divorced spouse’s benefit if the following criteria are met:

  • You are at least 62 years of age
  • You were married for at least 10 years prior to the divorce
  • You are currently unmarried
  • Your ex-spouse is entitled to Social Security benefits
  • Your own Social Security benefit amount is less than your spousal benefit amount, which is equal to one-half of what your ex’s full benefit amount would be if claimed at Full Retirement Age (FRA)

Unlike with a married couple, your ex-spouse doesn’t have to have filed for Social Security before you can apply for your divorced spouse’s benefit, but this only applies if you’ve been divorced for at least two years and your ex is at least 62 years of age. If the divorce was less than two years ago, your ex must already be receiving benefits before you can file as a divorced spouse.

Divorce doesn’t even disqualify you from survivor benefits. You can claim a divorced spouse’s survivor benefit if the following are true:

  • Your ex-spouse is deceased
  • You are at least 60 years of age
  • You were married for at least 10 years prior to the divorce
  • You are single (or you remarried after age 60)

In the process of divorcing?

If your divorce isn’t final before your retirement date, you’re still considered married. You have two options:

  • Retire before your divorce is final and elect a joint pension of at least 50% with your spouse—or get your spouse’s signed, notarized consent to a different election or lump sum.
  • Delay your retirement until after your divorce is final and you can provide the required divorce documentation.

To read about the stages of retirement for ConocoPhillips employees, visit: https://techstaffer.blog/2020/03/23/conocophillips-stages-of-retirement/

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