On July 19, 2016, the Maryland Court of Appeals issued a highly anticipated Opinion, requiring trial judges to consider divorcing parties' actual or anticipated social security benefits as a FL 8-205(b) factor before determining whether to grant a monetary award to adjust the equities and rights of the parties in their marital property.
While judges cannot actually re-assign social security benefits between divorcing spouses, as that is pre-empted by Federal law, all judges must consider present or future social security benefits as a required factor in all monetary award cases from this point forward.
This will now change how all family law attorneys, family law mediators and family law judges approach dividing assets upon divorce.
Harry Siegel has a long history of trail-blazing Maryland law, and this case represents one of the most major adjustments to the divorce process in decades. The case was argued by Harry Siegel and Lindsay Stanton of SIEGELLAW. The case can be found at http://www.mdcourts.gov/opinions/coa/2016/62a15.pdf
So, what does all of this mean? Here are a few examples:
1. When you get divorced, the trial judge must look at the effect social security has or may have.
2. If you are getting a smaller percentage of social security than your spouse, it might open up the door for getting more assets at the time of divorce.
3. If you are already receiving social security at the time of your divorce, it may impact the division of retirement assets and other assets between you and your spouse.
The bottom line is that when you consider hiring a family law attorney, you may want to consider not only an attorney who knows the law and how to try cases, but also one who has a hand in making changes to the law to protects his clients.