93.1 KISS FM – Ask A Lawyer, Part 7

Ask A Lawyer - Michael Gopin

Tricia 00:00

Okay, so here we are. We’ve got our special guest, Mr. Gopin, Mr. Michael Gopin “Ask a Lawyer.” Good morning.

Mr. Gopin 00:09

Good morning guys. How are you?

Tricia 00:10

We’re good. Okay, so we have got a lot to get to. So I think we should get started because we got some really good questions from the app.

Mike 00:17

These are, like, all over the place aren’t they?

Tricia 00:19

Yeah, they really are, they really are. Okay, so our first app question. This is from anonymous, and she said, “She’s been in a terrible off-and-on marriage for 17 years. He was always the breadwinner, she was always the stay-at-home mom. Well, back in 2012, they got a Common Law certificate so she could be added to his health insurance. Now here’s your question, she wants to be able to claim his social security when she’s older. But because they divorced and then remarried, it wasn’t a 10-consecutive-year span. Next year will the legal 10 years as per the Common Law certificate, it will be. So does she really have to wait until next year to file for divorce from this man is her question?

Mr. Gopin 01:02

Well, that’s a little complicated. Just because you have the Common Law certificate doesn’t mean that you weren’t common law married prior to that time. So it’s certainly possible that she has been common law married to her husband for longer than the 10-year period. The 10-year period is only used for the maximum social security benefits, not for any social security benefits.

So depending on how old she is, you know, at 62 years old, she can start applying for benefits under his social security, if they’re still married or divorced, as long as she’s not remarried. When she becomes remarried it’ll be under the new spouse’s social security. So it’s kind of complicated. The certificate for the common law certainly is helpful in terms of proof, in terms of proving how long you’re common law married, but certainly, you could be common law married and never even have a certificate. So it’s not the only evidence that could be used. But, to maximize your benefits, you know, 10 years would be important. Of course, if you’re not divorced the time you file, your divorce petition, you would become finalized later. So it still may hit the 10-year mark anyway even after you file for divorce.

Mike 02:17

Okay. Is it something that she should consider hiring a lawyer for?

Mr. Gopin 02:23

Yeah, I would definitely consult a lawyer and, you know, you’d like to look at the exact dates of the certificate for the common law, and also what type of proof she has they were married before that common law wives. I don’t know if she said that she was divorced and remarried this man so I don’t know if the first time they married in a ceremony and not common law or what the circumstances regarding that, but that all kind of plays into the facts here.

So it would be very important to consult a lawyer to try to get the best advice possible because there’s lots of questions that are important in terms of, you know, little minute facts that may change things.

Mike 03:07

And is it a specialty type of lawyer for this kind of a situation?

Mr. Gopin 03:11

Yeah. I would consult with a family lawyer, someone who does divorces, that type of cases. There are lots of great lawyers here in El Paso that do that type of work, and I would consult one of them, and see what they advise.

Mike 03:28

Now, let me ask, what about social security lawyers? I see bill boards for that type of service as well, or is that something entirely different?

Mr. Gopin 03:35

That is entirely different. And what you’re seeing for social security, those are social security disability type cases. So if someone is unable to work because of injury, whether it be physical, mental, or any type of reason, then they could qualify for social security disability payments depending if they have enough credit and time into the social security system to be eligible.

Tricia 04:01

Okay. Okay, second question. This is from Marissa. She said she was in a lawsuit about a year and a half against an old employer, and she was hearing from other people that were in on the lawsuit that they got a good settlement, but she hasn’t heard anything. So she called, and they said that she wasn’t part of the lawsuit, but she would get a call back from them. Well, they haven’t called back yet and they’re dodging her calls. She says, “I have emails of me sending my paychecks and conversations, what can I do about this?”

Mr. Gopin 04:31

Well, you may not have been involved in this lawsuit. I mean, to be involved a lawsuit, you have to file paperwork at the courthouse. So I’m not sure if you were included in this case or not. I don’t know if you hired a lawyer, and I’m not sure exactly what you mean by you have emails. I’m assuming that you’re meaning, you know, to your employer, but your employer doesn’t have a duty to include you in any lawsuit or settlement if they don’t want to. It’s your burden to actually bring the lawsuit, a formal lawsuit.

So it’d be my advice, at this point, I’m not quite sure what type of case you have against your employer, but I would consult an attorney and see what my rights are. Because there are time issues that can be involved here depending on what’s going on. So, I would definitely consult a lawyer, you know, very quickly to see if you have rights, if you’re included in this lawsuit or claim, and what’s really going on.

Mike 05:33

Yeah. Because then, you know, you could deal…the lawyer could hear what you meant, specifically, by emails and conversations, and make a much better determination that way. He is Michael Gopin feature is “Ask a Lawyer.” We will be right back. We got a ton more questions to ask of him. Mike and Tricia Mornings on 93.1 KISS FM.

Michael J. Gopin

Michael J. Gopin has practiced law in El Paso since 1987. Even after more than 30 years, he still remembers his first jury case. It was two weeks after receiving his license, when he represented a person whose life had been forever changed after being blinded in a work-related incident...


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