How Does a Divorce Effect Social Security Benefits?

Social Security benefits are available to most American workers. For married couples, even if only one spouse is eligible for Social Security benefits, the other spouse may also receive benefits based on the marriage. When couple’s divorce, in order to collect Social Security benefits from your former spouse, you need to meet the following requirements:

  • Your marriage must have been for at least 10 years
  • You must be at least 62 years of age (at the time that you want to start collecting your benefits)
  • You need to remain unmarried — however, if you do re-marry, then you may still be able to receive benefits from your first spouse
  • Your own Social Security benefits must be less than the amount of benefits you would receive from your ex-spouse

If you do qualify for Social Security benefits, the benefits you receive do not reduce the amount of Social Security benefits paid to your former spouse. Therefore, getting divorced does not reduce your benefits, it only allows your former spouse to collect Social Security benefits as well.

You should also know, that if your ex-spouse qualifies for their Social Security benefits, but, has not applied for them, that you can still receive your Social Security benefits, based on that ex-spouse (provided that you have been divorced for at least two years).
Finally, it is important to know that Social Security benefits are subject to Federal Law and are not subject to change based on changes in New York law.

If you are contemplating divorce and you are close to being married for 10 years, you may want to delay filing for divorce until you are married for more than 10 years. This way you may be eligible to receive Social Security benefits from your former spouse.

If you are thinking of getting a divorce, you need an experienced Matrimonial and Divorce Attorney to guide you through the process. Call David Badanes and the Badanes Law Office today at 631-239-1702, email at david@dbnylaw.com or visit our web site: www.dbnylaw.com. The Badanes Law Office has offices in Northport and Uniondale.

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What To Do If Your Soon-To-Be-Ex or Ex-Spouse Slanders You On Social Media?

Divorce can be an emotionally charged time, but venting about it on social media can get you in trouble and potentially lead you into court. During the divorce process and even after the divorce is over, your ex-spouse may post negative comments about you.

The number one rule in these situations: Do not retaliate against your soon-to-be-ex-spouse or your ex-spouse with your own post or try to rebut any of their posts.

If your ex-spouse posts something negative about you, what you should do is take a screenshot of the post, save it and send it to your attorney. Your attorney can then guide you on what the best course of action will be. That may consist of filing a lawsuit, writing to your ex-spouse’s attorney or some other action.

It is important to note, that not everything your ex-spouse posts or writes about you may be improper or illegal. For example, your ex-spouse may be able to post factually correct details about your divorce. Although this might be upsetting, it is probably not improper.

However, if your ex-spouse is clearly posting false information about you, then you may be able to take legal action against your ex-spouse. It is important that the statement must be entirely false and caused you some type of harm.

If you are in the middle of your divorce, any negative posts or statements should be given to your attorney, who then may show those posts to the Court (and to your spouse’s attorney). Although the post may not qualify as slander or defamation, it still may be useful to you in your divorce. Virtually every Court and every Judge will not want to see negative posts being stated about you, especially if there are children involved. Furthermore, if you are worried that your spouse will continue to post negative information about you, even after the divorce is final, you can ask your attorney to add protections into your settlement agreement.

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What Kinds Of Questions Will A Judge Ask At A Divorce Hearing?

At a divorce trial or hearing, a Judge typically does not ask many questions. In fact, a Judge doesn’t have to ask any questions. The attorneys are supposed to ask all the questions.

However, there are times that a Judge may ask a clarifying question. For example, if you are asked what you do for a living, and you answer “engineer”, the Judge may ask what kind of engineer or what an engineer does.

If there is a signed divorce agreement, then the Judge will probably do an allocution of the parties. An allocution is done so that the Judge knows that you entered into the divorce agreement on your own free will and that you fully understand the agreement. The Judge will ask a series of questions, some of which may include:

  1. Do you understand the agreement?
  2. Did anybody force you to sign the agreement?
  3. Did your attorney explain the agreement to you?
  4. Are you satisfied with the agreement?
  5. Are you currently under the influence of drugs/alcohol that would impair your ability to understand the agreement?
  6. Is that your true signature?

If you are just appearing for a court conference (and not a trial/hearing), especially in the beginning of your divorce, a Judge may ask you more questions. For example, the Judge may want to know: (i) if you have children; (ii) the children’s ages; (iii) if you own a house; (iv) if you have a mortgage; (iv) what you do for a living; and (v) your general income.

Divorce can be complicated, David Badanes and the Badanes Law Office can help you understand the process and guide you through it. David Badanes and the Badanes Law Office have represented countless clients and have achieved excellent results.

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Do We Have To Split Our Child’s Medical Bills Or Does Child Support Cover That?

You are divorced (or have a child in common with the child’s parent), and you have a medical bill (due to a co-pay or a deductible). Does child support cover that?

Unreimbursed medical expenses are paid pro-rata and are separate and apart from child support payments. This means that the person paying for child support will pay both child support and a portion of the medical expenses.

The term “pro-rata”, means that each parent will pay their proportional share of the medical expenses based on their yearly income. For example, if one parent earns $100,000 and the other parent earns $50,000, then the parent earning $100,000 would pay 2/3 (two-thirds) and the other parent would 1/3 (one-third) of the medical bills. If both parents earn the same income, then each parent would pay 50% of the medical expenses.

Typically, the non-custodial parent does not have to pay for cosmetic medical expenses or for over-the-counter medicines.

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Some Motivational Quotes for Your Divorce

Going through a divorce may one of the hardest experiences you may have. There are many things you can do to help you get through a divorce. One of them is motivational quotes.

Here are a few of my favorite motivational quotes, I hope they help you.

“Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.” Victor Hugo

“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any” Alice Walker

“The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you’ve got to put with the rain.” Dolly Parton

“It is never too late to become what you might have been.” George Eliot

“If you’re going through hell, keep going.” Winston Churchill”

“Fall down seven times, stand up eight” Unknown

“A ship is always safe at shore, but, that is not what it’s for.” Albert Einstein

“You can’t change how people treat you or what they say about you. All you can do is change how you react to it.” Ghandi

And here are just a few funny ones:

“I have never hated a man enough to give him his diamonds back.” Zsa Zsa Gabor

“Stephen Hawking is getting a divorce. That’s scary. If the smartest guy in the world can’t figure out women, we’re all screwed.” Jay Leno

“Arguing with a lawyer is like wrestling with a pig in mud. Sooner or later you realize they like it!”

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I’m Getting Divorced: Should I Keep The House Or Sell It?

For many married couples their greatest asset is the house they own. In a divorce, you may have the option to “buy-out” your spouse and therefore keep the house, or you can sell the house. In order to evaluate whether you should keep the house (that is buy-out your spouse) or sell it, here are a few things you need to keep in mind.

Do you have the funds to buy-out your spouse? If you don’t have the funds to buy-out your spouse, then the question of whether to keep or sell, may be a moot point. Similarly, if you have the funds, but, it by buying out your spouse, it will leave you “cash-poor”, it may not be a good idea to use your available funds to buy out your spouse.

  • Do you have the funds for any repairs or emergencies? Even if you have enough funds to buy-out your spouse, you also should have enough funds in reserve for any repairs or emergencies that may occur in the future.
  • If you need to obtain a mortgage to buy-out your spouse, can you afford the mortgage? You may qualify for a mortgage, but, that does not necessarily mean that you can actually afford to pay the mortgage ever month. Or if you pay the mortgage, you will have very little left over for any other funds.
  • Is a smaller home or a less expensive home a better idea? It may be better to sell the home and then buy a less expensive home. It is at least worth thinking about.
  • Are you only keeping the house for sentimental reasons? You may love the house and you may want to stay for sentimental reasons. Yet, it may be better to sell the house, despite its sentimental value.

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Going To Court: What You Should Wear

If you ever watch an old movie, you will see that anyone who went to court was dressed in a suit. Although, I’m not too sure how true that was in the so-called old days, I can tell you from experience, that what people wear to court today is vastly different. I’ve seen people go to court in outfits more fit for the beach. Although, it really should not matter what you wear, what you wear to court, does matter. So what should you wear when going to court?

When selecting what you should wear to court, the general rule is to look neat and not too flashy.

For Men: at a minimum you should wear “business casual”, that is dress pants and dress shirt, it may not be necessary to wear a tie. However, if you feel more comfortable wearing a tie, then I recommend that you do so. You should also wear dress shoes. You should not wear a lot of jewelry.

For Women: at a minimum, you should also wear “business casual”, a dress suit or pantsuit is fine. Most experts will also recommend a solid-colored blouse and conservative dress shoes.

In many ways, it is probably easier to tell you what not to wear, that list would include:

  • T-shirts
  • Sundress
  • Strapless dress
  • Exercise outfits
  • Sleeveless shirts (muscle shirts)
  • Shorts
  • Hats
  • Revealing tops
  • Short Skirts
  • Sneakers
  • Flip-Flop Sandals

David Badanes provides real-world and practical advice that will help you in your divorce. From what to wear to court to how to prepare for a complicated divorce case, David Badanes and the Badanes Law Office, will make sure you get the best advice.

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What Is A QDRO Or A DRO?

If you or your spouse has a pension, retirement plan, an IRA, 401(k), annuity, or any other type of retirement benefit, then you probably will need a QDRO or DRO to divide the retirement benefits.

A QDRO is short for “Qualified Domestic Relations Order” and a DRO is short for “Domestic Relations Order”. A QDRO and DRO are basically the same thing, the only difference is that a QDRO will be ‘qualified’ by the administrator of the retirement plan.

A QDRO/DRO is a type of court order, so it must be signed by a Judge. It allows a spouse to obtain a portion of the other spouse’s retirement benefits, without any tax implications or any type of early withdrawal fees. You need a QDRO/DRO because a retirement benefit can only be divided through a court order.

Typically, in the divorce, your attorney will arrange for a QDRO/DRO to be drafted by a third-party firm. Once the QDRO/DRO is drafter, your attorney will review it, to make sure it is correct. Depending on the QDRO/DRO, it may then have to be pre-approved by the administrator of the particular retirement plan. If it does have to be pre-approved, then that should be done as soon as possible, as many retirement plans can take a long time to grant the pre-approval. Once the QDRO/DRO has been pre-approved, or if no pre-approval is necessary, then the QDRO/DRO is submitted to the Court for the Judge’s signature. Usually, a QDRO/DRO will not be signed by a Judge until the divorce is completed and the Judgment of Divorce is signed.

Once the Judge signs the QDRO/DRO, it can then be submitted to the administrator of the retirement plan.

If you have questions about your retirement plan or your spouse’s retirement plan, and you are thinking of getting divorce, then call David Badanes and the Badanes Law Office.

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Are Character Witnesses Helpful In A Divorce?

Many of my clients will ask me if it helps to have a character witness in their divorce case. Here is some information that will help answer that question.

A character witness is a person who attests to another’s moral character, conduct and reputation in a court of law. Typically, character witnesses are used in criminal cases to verify the positive traits of the defendant.

However, in divorce cases character witnesses usually do not have that much of an effect. This is because in a criminal case, the effect of a character witness is to help to lessen a criminal punishment. In a divorce case, the Court is not weighing whether or not it should impose a harsh sentence, but, is weighing who should receive custody of a child. Furthermore, in a divorce case, both parents will be able to bring in character witnesses who will state that each parent is a “good parent.” Finally, the Court will realize that your character witness is most likely a family member or a close friend and will discount their testimony.

However, if the character witness can testify to events that they have actually seen (or perhaps heard) which reflects negatively on your spouse and/or positively on you, then the character witness may have more of an impact. Here, the character witness is not just stating that you are a good parent, but, they are testifying that they have seen you exhibit positive behavior or they have seen your spouse exhibit negative behavior.

Instead of using a relative or a close friend as a character witness, it may be better to call a teacher, one of the children’s coaches, or any neutral adult that can testify about what they have actually witnessed. These types of third-parties are viewed as more persuasive witnesses.
It is important to note that a character witness may backfire on you. Your spouse’s attorney is sure to cross-examine the witness and if the witness testifies to anything that may be viewed as negative to your case, that could weaken the witness’s testimony.

Another reason why a character witness may not be helpful, is that they may be a reluctant witness. You should also know that many times, a character witness, will not want to be bothered to having to come to court to testify.

When you are getting divorce, it is important to hire an attorney who knows what witnesses to call. David Badanes and the Badanes Law Office, P.C. have extensive trial experience and can help you in your divorce.

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What is a Cohabitation Agreement?

A cohabitation agreement can be used when a couple is not married, but live together, and wants to protect their rights and assets in case of a break-up. It is similar to a prenuptial agreement, yet it does not require that the couple get married.

Although, New York does not recognize “palimony” or common law marriage, it is still important to have a cohabitation agreement, to protect your assets and rights. This is because, if you live together, one person can still claim some “rights” to the real property and to the personal property in the residence.

There are different types of issues that can be covered by a cohabitation agreement, such as, but not limited to:

  • Distribution of property after a break up
  • Responsibilities for debts
  • Who gets to live in the residence after a break up
  • Support and custody rights (if there are children involved)
  • Financial issues

If you are living with your significant other, and need a cohabitation agreement, David Badanes, Esq. and the Badanes Law Office, P.C. can help you and will answer all your questions about the process. David Badanes and the Badanes Law Office, P.C. can be contacted at 631-239-1702, email at david@dbnylaw.com or visit our web site: www.dbnylaw.com. The Badanes Law Office, P.C. has offices in Northport, Suffolk County and in Uniondale, Nassau County.

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