Tuesday, 05 June 2012 14:18

Social Security Benefits

Social Security Benefits May be Important Financial Planning Tool  in Divorce:

Americans receive social security benefits based on their own quarters of work and earnings or their spouses.   If you divorce after ten years or more of marriage either spouse can claim benefits based on the earnings of the other. In order for you to qualify, your former spouse must be at least 62 years of age. If your former spouse has not applied for retirement benefits, but can qualify for them, you can receive benefits on his or her record if you have been divorced for at least two years. Spousal benefits are usually ½ of the employee’s benefits.   If you receive benefits based on your former spouse’s earnings record, their benefits are not reduced. If you remarry, you generally cannot collect benefits on your former spouse’s earnings record unless your later marriage ends, either by death, divorce or annulment.


Now you can get your Social Security Statement online. The Statement provides:

  • Estimates of the retirement and disability benefits you may receive;
  • Estimates of benefits your family may get when you receive Social Security or die;
  • A list of your lifetime earnings according to Social Security’s records;
  • The estimated Social Security and Medicare taxes you’ve paid;
  • Information about qualifying and signing up for Medicare;
  • Things to consider for those age 55 and older who are thinking of retiring;
  • General information about Social Security for everyone;
  • The opportunity to apply online for retirement and disability benefits; and
  • A printable version of your Social Security Statement.


In addition to helping with financial planning, the online statement also provides a convenient way to determine whether your earnings are accurately posted to your Social Security records. This feature is important because Social Security benefits are based on average earnings over a person’s lifetime. If the earnings information is not accurate, you may not receive all the benefits to which you are entitled.

If you are going through a divorce, it is important to have all of the financial facts. Consider obtaining your social security statement, as well as requesting that your spouse provide his/her social security statement.


Thursday, 24 May 2012 19:32

Security Measures

Getting Divorced?  Suggestions Regarding Your Personal Privacy Especially When Working with Your Divorce Attorney.

Ken D'Angelo of Target Investigations http://www.target-investigations.com/home.html gave these helpful hints during a Law Day program sponsored by the Montgomery County Maryland Bar Association on May 18, 2012. 

  1. Create a new Email Address with a unique password for your legal correspondence.
  2. Consider purchasing a pre-paid cellphone to use for your legal communications.
  3. Do not use cordless or landline telephones at home.
  4. Always lock your cell phone, tablet and computer and change the passwords.
  5. Use password protected screen savers and turn off computers when not in use.
  6. Change passwords for Email accounts regularly and do not use actual words as passwords.
Use long, complex passwords instead.
  7. Do not share your cellphone, tablet or computer with others, including your children.
  8. Consider using a work or friend’s computer for your legal communications.
  9. Turn off all location tracking apps on mobile devices. When in doubt turn it off.
  10. Be aware of the use of hidden and computer/IP cameras.
  11. Have your mail forwarded to a secure private mail facility or P.O. Box.
  12. Separate financial/utility accounts and password protect them.
  13. Always lock your vehicle and maintain control of all keys.
  14. Be aware of your surroundings, especially when leaving your home or office.
  15. Communicate with neighbors and report any suspicious vehicles to the police.
  16. Shred unwanted personal papers and place important documents in a secure location. Be
careful what you put in your trash bins.
  17. Suspend use of any social networking, IM’ing, chat rooms and/or dating websites.
  18. Don’t discuss your legal case with casual friends or outsiders.
  19. Consider consulting with a personal security professional regarding any specific concerns.
  20. Behave. Don’t do anything you wouldn’t want discussed in open court.


Thursday, 24 May 2012 19:18

Same Sex Divorce

Same Sex Couples Can't Get Married in Maryland (yet), But They Can Get Divorced.

                  Even though Maryland does not recognize same sex marriage, the Court of Appeals ruled that a valid out of state same sex marriage should be treated by the Maryland Courts as worthy of divorce.   Jessica Port and Virginia Anne Cowan married in California in 2008, during a time when same sex marriage was legal in that state.   The couple then moved to Maryland and two years later they agreed to mutually separate.   Port filed for divorce in Prince George’s County, and Cowan did not contest the Complaint.   The Judge hearing their case denied the requested relief on the basis that the marriage was “not valid” and “contrary to the public policy of Maryland.”   Both parties appealed the Circuit Court decision.  

“Must the Circuit Court grant a divorce to two people of the same sex who were validly married in another jurisdiction and who otherwise meet the criteria for divorce under Maryland law?” The Court of Appeals answered in a 7-0 decision, yes and remanded the case to the Circuit Court with direction to grant a final divorce.


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Geraldine Welikson Hess, Esq
Hess Family Law
451 Hungerford Dr,
Suite 119-307
Rockville, Maryland 20850

Geraldine Welikson Hess, Esq
Hess Family Law
344 Maple Ave West,
Suite 355
Vienna, Virginia 22180

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