Reviews

Reginald Black

Feb 20, 2017

I can\'t say enough about Kathleen Gingrich. I needed her services at a very difficult time in my life. ...

Deb Hoffert

Feb 08, 2017

I can not say enough great things about this law firm. Everyone is extremely knowledgeable, professional and above all else ...

John Arena

Feb 01, 2017

Peter Russo and the staff at his firm have handled my personal and professional business for almost a decade. His ...

rick scott

Feb 01, 2017

Peter was easy to work with and handled my case first class. He was knowledgeable about my case (possible age ...

Jenn Spears Brenize

Feb 01, 2017

Peter is extremely knowledgeable and aggressive, yet even-tempered. He is professional, diligent, and compassionate, and responsive to his clients\' ...

Cliffeton green

Oct 30, 2018

Very professional knows what he\'s doing. Very good with people.

Karen Young

Oct 30, 2018

Mr. Russo gives very solid business guidance. He clearly understands the law but, more importantly, the needs of a business ...

Heather E Steavens-Jones

Oct 30, 2018

If you want a lawyer to give you guidance with your interests as a priority then Pete Russo is the ...

Tami Johnson

Oct 30, 2018

Pete and his team were exceptional in helping my husband and I buy our first small business. Couldn\'t have ...

Lori Keim

Oct 29, 2018

Peter is knowledgeable, caring and honest. I have found his advice to be more focused on what is right for ...

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Supreme Court decision resolves divorce property division issue

Although laws recognizing the benefits of same-sex couples are changing, even a former lawyer’s carefully drafted directives were not honored until her surviving spouse sought court assistance.

The same-sex couple had been married in Canada but never in their home state. When the lawyer died of cancer at the age of 37, her lesbian spouse assumed she would collect on her deceased partner’s death benefits, including a profit-sharing plan where the partner had worked.

However, the surviving parents intervened. They asserted a claim to the death benefits, citing the Defense of Marriage Act as support for their position that the lesbian spouse was not a proper beneficiary. The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent invalidation of DOMA resolved the issue.

The federal judge assigned to the case recently ruled that the spouse should receive the benefits. Although state law generally governs marriage, the terms of the plan at issue in this case were governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, or ERISA. Consequently, the judge determined that federal law should apply, and awarded the spouse the proceeds of the federally governed plan benefits.

As this post suggests, the division of property in a divorce proceeding may potentially involve multiple areas of law. Retirement accounts and securities are examples of potential marital estates that are also subject to other federal laws. For this reason, a divorce attorney familiar with property division and valuation disputes might provide invaluable assistance, spotting issues that might otherwise go unnoticed and defending against third party claims to those assets. An attorney might also have investigative strategies for uncovering all assets that may have been hidden by another spouse.

Source: articles.philly.com, “Judge awards late lawyer’s benefits to lesbian spouse,” Joseph A. Slobodzian, July 31, 2013