If you are divorced, you may qualify for Social Security benefits based on your ex-spouse’s work record. To be eligible for benefits, your ex-spouse must have reached the age at which he or she is eligible to begin receiving benefits (though he or she does not necessarily need to be receiving them). To qualify, you need to:
have been married to your ex-spouse for at least 10 years;
have been divorced two years or longer;
be at least 62 years old;
be unmarried; and
not be entitled to a higher Social Security benefit based on your own work history.
If your former spouse is deceased, you may still receive benefits as a surviving divorced spouse (irrespective of the age he or she died), assuming that your ex-spouse was entitled to Social Security benefits, your marriage was at least 10 years, you are at least 60 years old and you are not entitled to a higher benefit amount based on your own work history. If you remarry before the age of 60, you will lose the ability to receive a survivor benefit from your deceased ex-spouse.
The maximum amount that you are eligible to receive is 50% of what your former spouse is due at full retirement age. To receive the maximum benefit, you will need to wait until you have reached your own full retirement age.⁹
Your benefits are unaffected should your former spouse elect to take Social Security before reaching full retirement age or if your ex-spouse starts a new family.
January is often known of as “divorce month.” This is often due to a desire for families to stay together during the winter holidays, especially when kids are involved. However, trends are starting to show that although consultations and internet hits relating to divorce and child custody spike right after Christmas, March is actually the new “divorce month.” Valentine’s day and tax season are most likely the culprits behind this change in trend because of the stress both the holidays and tax season can put on a marriage.
What do you do when you want to file for divorce, but you don’t know where your spouse is? Massachusetts is a little different from other states. If you don’t know where your spouse is your lawyer is going to file a Motion for Alternate Service. This motion contains information like where you were married and the address where your spouse last resided. Some states require a search to locate the missing spouse. This can be a very stressful and prolonged period of time. Luckily, Massachusetts does not require an exhaustive search. After the motion is filed your lawyer will obtain a divorce summons and a legal notice from the clerk of courts. This notice must be sent to a newspaper (chosen by the court) and published once a week for three weeks. A copy is also mailed, by certified mail, to the last known residence of your spouse.
Have questions? Learn more at http://www.3stepdivorce.com/missingspouse/massachusetts.shtml or http://www.mass.gov/courts/selfhelp/family/divorce.html or call the office today!
Since the inception of the Alimony Reform Act, there have been several cases that have been appealed. Some of these appellate decisions have provided us with additional clarity and an understanding. A recent Supreme Court decision, Snow v. Snow Docket No.: SJC-12102 in determining the intent of the legislature as to when the legislature intended the durational limit of general term alimony to commence, ” they looked first to the language of the relevant statute, which is ” the clearest window into the collective mind of the legislature”. Holmes v. Holmes, 467 Mass. at 659. Under M.G.L. c. 208 sec. 49 (b), “general term alimony cannot continue for not longer than a fixed percentage of the number of months of the marriage: And it can not continue unless it has been awarded. Thus, until a judge has awarded general term alimony, the durational term alimony does not begin to run. In this case, alimony was not addressed at trial. The trial judge in Snow relied upon the mistaken premise that the wife’s action was a complaint for modification rather than an initial complaint for alimony, the actual time that the clock begins to run.
“The nature and structure of belief systems is important from the perspective of an informational theorist because beliefs are thought to provide the cognitive foundation of an attitude. In order to change an attitude, then, it is presumably necessary to modify the information on which that attitude rests. It is generally necessary, therefore, to change a person’s beliefs, eliminate old beliefs or introduce new beliefs.” -Richard Petty and John Cacioppo
Your finances are always going to be important and divorce definitely doesn’t make things any easier. Your financial situation is about to change drastically, so it’s best to get prepared. First thing to do is to make a master list of your financial situation. Make sure to include all your assets and your debt. You should include all the interest rates on your debt as well. It is also important to establish the equity of your home and to appraise the house if so is needed.
You should also try to distinguish between your marital property and property you held prior to marriage (depending on how long you’ve been made, this can be easier said than done!). Gather all the information relating to your retirement account(s) as well. Doing these things prior to obtaining legal counsel can get things moving so much faster and save you a lot of money and saving money is very important! It’s best to save as much as you can. If you’re not in the habit of saving, take the plunge and start! Things are going to be different when you no longer have another paycheck. You should also prioritize what assets are important to you. Just because you love the house, doesn’t mean it financially makes sense to stay in it! After you gather all your information and figure out your mind set THEN consult counsel.
“Marriage isn’t a love affair. It isn’t even a honeymoon. It’s a job. A long hard job, at which both partners have to work, harder than they’ve worked at anything in their lives before. If it’s a good marriage, it changes, it evolves, but it goes on getting better. I’ve seen it with my own mother and father. But a bad marriage can dissolve in a welter of resentment and acrimony. I’ve seen that, too, in my own miserable and disastrous attempt at making another person happy. And it’s never one person’s fault. It’s the sum total of a thousand little irritations, disagreements, idiotic details that in a sound alliance would simply be disregarded, or forgotten in the healing act of making love. Divorce isn’t a cure, it’s a surgical operation, even if there are no children to consider.” -Rosamunde Pilcher, “Wild Mountain Thyme
The divorce process can be a long one and take both emotional and even physical tolls on a person or a family. Here are some general tips for things NOT to do when compelteing the divorce process that can make it much easier.
- Don’t hide things from your attorney. It’s best to be open and honest with them. The last thing you want is for you spouse’s counsel to bring something up your lawyer had no idea about.
- Don’t talk bad about your ex in front of your kids. The kids still have two parents and although your relationship didn’t work out, don’t make the kids think their other parent is a “bad person” because the two of you can’t get along.
- Don’t wait too long to get the ball rolling! Start talking to a lawyer and gather all your financial information ASAP. If not the process will just take longer and you’ll become more and more annoyed.
- Don’t post about your divorce/relationship on social media. Anything can be used against you so trashing your ex or trying to make them jealous with pictures of your new relationship will not help you in the long run.
- Don’t increase you debt while your accounts are still “joined.” Your financial situation is about to change and your spouse’s counsel will likely fight for you to pay all or a majority of joined debt, so it’s better to not add any more!
- Don’t be afraid to ask your lawyer for help. Call, text, email or make an appointment to visit him/her with any and all questions before you make a mistake. You will not likely be charged for a full hour for a question or two, so it’s best to consult with them about almost everything!
- Don’t take your time doing what your lawyer asks you. If they ask you to produce documents or ask you to do a specific task (obtain employment, make a schedule etc.) get on it! Your lawyer is only trying to help you and if you don’t follow their advice you will be putting yourself in a much worse situation!
“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” -Confucius