The Maryland Court of Appeals has been busy this summer with family law opinions. I previously posted about the Court’s decision regarding “De Facto Parents”, as well as, its decision regarding joint legal custody. Earlier this week, the Court of Appeals, made another family law ruling adding an additional factor for the Circuit Courts (trial courts) to consider when determining what – if any- monetary award should be provided to a spouse in a divorce proceeding. This ruling comes from the Court’s decision in Jackson v. Jackson.
The Court of Appeals ruled that since Maryland is preempted by federal law from directly dividing Social Security benefits or indirectly dividing those benefits by way of an offset. This prohibition also prevents a judge from offsetting the hypothetical value of Social Security benefits within the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) pension when determining the distribution of marital property in a divorce proceeding. A trial judge is required to consider the parties’ actual or anticipated Social Security benefits when determining whether to grant a monetary award to adjust the equities and rights of the parties in marital property.