How To Deal With False Allegations During Child Custody & Divorce

It seems like everyone knows a story about false allegations during child custody and divorce. One spouse points the finger at the other and receives a restraining order from the court. The wife or husband recognizes that doing this will, almost by default, give them custody of the children and exclusive use of the family home. The accused parent then must defend themselves in court and prove these allegations false.

While false accusations are a legal mess, it is also terrible to have someone who you once shared a life make claims of either abuse or neglect. It is something no one is ever really prepared for. You may feel you should reach out to your soon to be ex-spouse, but this can actually make things worse for you. Additionally, trying to make contact could be used against you. It is not unheard of for there to be accusations of stalking, harassment, or violence when all you want to do is smooth things over. No matter how tempted, it is best to keep away, and, with a clear mind, take more appropriate actions. [Read more…]

Ways to Discover Hidden Assets During a Divorce

Despite complications to the marriage, most people enter the divorce process believing their soon to be ex-spouse is an honest person. However, this is not always the situation. The fact is, dishonesty is a common reason for seeking a divorce. Regardless, even if you have no reason to suspect your former partner is a liar, there is still good cause to be curious and concerned about their finances heading into a divorce.

Once a divorce begins, many people will do whatever it takes to conceal and hold on to what they believe is their money. Moreover, some will even create secret accounts, or perform other financial actions, during the course of the whole marriage. Discovering these hidden assets, during a divorce, is the only way to ensure you receive a fair settlement.

You should never rely entirely on your spouse’s financial affidavit. The good news is an experienced divorce attorney has many tools at their disposal often including a forensic accountant or other investigators and can uncover most everything during the discovery process.

In today’s world, many couples have very complicated and difficult to understand financial portfolios that may include retirement plans, stocks, vacation properties, and more. Regardless, deception is often easily discoverable. The hiding places are predictable. These are some of the more common: [Read more…]

Massachusetts Family Law Regarding Separation

If you and your spouse are thinking it is time for a separation, there are some factors you should consider in order to make sure this is not only the right step for your family but also done in accordance of the law. Before any decisions are made, it would be beneficial to consult a divorce and family law attorney to help you fully understand the legal implications and consequences of filing any official documentation to separate assets.

In the state of Massachusetts, there is no judgement for a true legal separation. However, if one spouse seeks support from another spouse and does not want to file for divorce, he or she can file for a judgement of separate support.  This would allow for child support payments to begin as well as alimony.

Because Massachusetts does not provide a way for a legal separation, the process for filing for separate support can be a lengthy and complicated one. The method and burden of proving that the spouse should receive support is not always easy, and if a mistake is made, it could cost you and your family in the long run.

Before deciding that a separation of any kind is in order, both spouses should be confident that this is the right thing to do for the family. Some couples choose marital counseling in order to try everything possible to save the marriage.

If no resolution can be reached to remain together, the next legal step could be a mediation process in order to reach a legal and binding agreement for support. Mediation is often a preferred option as it typically costs less than a court proceeding, and the participants have more options to settle disputes in a respectable way. However, if mediation is chosen, it is a good idea to seek legal representation to protect your interests and your rights.

If you have questions or would like to consider a separation with your spouse, please call our law office to schedule a consultation.

Divorce Mediation- An Effective Way To Move Your Divorce Forward

Mediation is a popular option for couples in Massachusetts when they have decided to divorce.

A couple who has agreed that their marriage has reached a point of “irretrievable breakdown” according to Massachusetts General Law Chapter 208, due to no particular fault of either party, may want to seriously consider mediation.  This is a “no fault” divorce in Massachusetts.  A contested divorce is expensive, costing thousands of dollars.  Mediation is often more affordable and takes less time than a contested, litigated divorce.

Sitting down with a trained and experienced mediator, often an attorney, provides the divorcing couple an opportunity to develop a fair and equitable memorandum of understanding covering all of the requirements of ending their marriage contract and dividing their assets.  Mediators are able to help agreeable couples through simple or complex financial situations including child support and child custody agreements. [Read more…]

When Parents Divorce, the Children Get the House

By Nina Sovich

Exes still share the family home, but therapists warn of the downsides

Many divorced parents are opting to ‘nest,’ meaning they continue to share the family home to provide stability to their children.

A common Sunday night ritual for children whose parents are divorced is packing up the schoolbooks and soccer cleats for the weekly trek to mom or dad’s house.

In a flip, some divorced couples are trying an approach they call nesting: Mom and Dad shuttle back and forth while the children stay in the family home.

Some couples rent separate apartments for when they are away from the family home. Other couples rent an apartment together. When money is very tight, the off-duty parent sleeps on a friend’s or relative’s sofa.

Nesting makes sense, some couples say, to give the children stability. The parents reduce the financial pain of divorce by being able to wait for the right time to sell the family home or to invest in new homes.

Therapists, however, often don’t approve. They caution that the arrangement impinges on the parents’ privacy at a time they’re meant to establish their own new lives and routines. They question whether such close collaboration allows people to move on. And some question whether it is good for the children to see their separated parents still so deeply entwined. [Read more…]

Massachusetts Divorce and Separation Agreements

Divorce is a complicated and emotional endeavor.  Naturally, divorcing parents of young children have additional considerations over childless couples.  The many complexities involved in reaching a desired outcome during a divorce, are weighed according to a number of different factors. In some cases, it can be helpful to ask an attorney to draw up a Separation Agreement.

A Separation Agreement is a written document that determines how the divorcing parties will handle matters relating to the end of the marriage.  This Agreement can serve to clarify and simplify the overall divorce process. Normally, the agreement deals with child custody issues, parental visits, child support, alimony and division of assets and similar issues. The Agreement is only good if both parties agree to its terms and sign it voluntarily, without duress or intimidation. The Separation Agreement usually becomes part of the final divorce judgment.

The divorcing spouse who is being pressured to sign a Separation Agreement, or any document, should immediately consult with his or her attorney.  It should be noted that a judge can refuse to accept a Separation Agreement if he or she deems it unfair according to the circumstances under which it is presented.  He or she can also refuse to accept it if the judge learns that either party did not have a chance to consult with an attorney before signing it. [Read more…]

Best Interests of the Child In Your Divorce

When you’re going through the divorce process and managing the child support and custody issues, you’ll hear the term “best interests of the child.” Generally, the court will consider the new family lifestyle after a divorce and where the court feels the child will best be able to adapt to the new changes. It is possible for you and your spouse to ease into your new family dynamic in order to make the transition easier on your child.

Amicable Relationship
In order for you and your spouse to best help your child through the divorce process, they should maintain an amicable relationship. While that may not be easy, especially at first, this is beneficial in helping your child’s transition into this new way of life. It’s best to avoid contentious debates about visitation, child support, visitation and other child-rearing issues. [Read more…]

Divorce Modifications

Having the provisions of a divorce agreement modified under Massachusetts law is possible, based on how the separation agreement was written and the circumstances bringing about the request for a modification. Before bringing your modification request to the court, you need to consult with an experienced divorce attorney.

The first thing to realize is that there must be a material change in circumstances to request a modification, such as an employment change, a significant change of residence, or change in income. These changes can affect custody agreements and spousal and child support.

When drafting a separation agreement, there are two types of provisions addressed in the agreement: surviving and merging. Merging provisions are open to modification. Merging provisions are generally child specific issues like custody arrangements, support, and health insurance. Sometimes alimony can be a merging provision. Surviving provisions are generally not open to modification. An example of surviving provision is the division of property. [Read more…]

Divorce and The Length of Your Marriage

When considering divorce, there are many things to consider like property division, child custody, alimony and more, but one important consideration that many couples overlook is the date. In Massachusetts the amount of time you were married might matter in a variety of ways. Here are just a few examples:

Dividing Assets
Figuring out exactly when a marriage is over can be complicated as some states look at the date of separation, but Massachusetts courts generally refer to the date of divorce. Assets acquired during the marriage through the date of divorce are joint property, so a bonus one spouse receives at a job might be divisible between both parties if it was earned before the date of divorce.

Joint Debts
While dividing property is obviously important, many people do not give much thought to dividing debts. This can cause problems later as you can still be held responsible if your ex does not pay for joint expenses he or she agreed to take care of. Similarly, you might need to figure out joint bank accounts or credit cards before a divorce so that you are not responsible for charges a partner makes after you split up. [Read more…]

How Child Custody Is Determined Under Massachusetts Law

In Massachusetts, several factors are used to determine child custody between two parents seeking divorce or between unmarried couples who cannot come to custody terms following separation. Massachusetts law recognizes four different types of custody:

•    Sole legal custody
•    Shared legal custody
•    Sole physical custody
•    Shared physical custody

In the first and third statuses, only one parent has the right and responsibility regarding the child’s welfare, including education, medical care, and emotional, moral and religious development. Shared custody allows both parents to make decisions. Physical custody status goes one step further by determining whether children will live with only one or spend time living with both parents in addition to determining who will be responsible for their welfare. [Read more…]