Dividend stocks are an investor's best friend. It's been proven that the collection and reinvestment of dividends -- over decades -- is one of the best ways to accumulate wealth over time, and that accumulation should one day let you retire comfortably.
But not all dividend stocks are created equal. Often, the highest yielders look sexy, but contain hidden risks that beginning investors can't see. Others haven't grown their dividends in years, leading to smaller returns as the years go by.
In order to come up with a list of 10 of the stock market's top dividend stocks, I put all dividend payers through three different tests. If they passed all three tests and were still among the highest yielders of the group, they made the list below.