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August 2017 Archives

You're divorced! Now what?

After the emotional, and often expense, experience of going through a divorce, the Judge's gavel has dropped and the marriage is over. Now what happens?

Who can Claim the Dependent Child Exemption?

It is sometimes argued that the parent paying child support should be able to claim the Dependant Child Exemption. According to the 1985 Deficit Reduction Act, as amended by Regulation in July of 2008, the parent with whom their child under the age of 19 resides for greater number of nights of the year is entitled to the exemption, with some exceptions. The three exceptions are:

Top 10 Questions New Clients Ask About Divorce

When we meet with a new client who is facing the possibility of a divorce or paternity action, we are asked many of the same questions about the process. In many aspects the divorce or paternity process will be the same, although there will be differences based upon the specific facts of the case and the personalities of parties and their attorneys. Below are ten of the most common questions that we receive from new clients on our initial meeting.

The Proposed Child Custody Law -- Will It Make a Difference?

There may be changes coming to the way child custody decisions are made by courts in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts if a proposed bill is passed into law by the state legislature. Bill S.834 has been presented to the legislature to replace the existing statute (Mass. General Laws Chapter 208, Section 31), and is currently under review and debate.

Summer Parenting

During summer school break, the questions of "what do to with the kids" is often a more difficult challenge with divorced or separated parents. There are several issues that arise with issues of both the parenting schedule as well as legal custody that should be considered. As with any parenting issue, parents must first carefully read their court orders and agreements as it often holds the answer to these questions.

Rental Properties and Divorce

Rental properties are often considered a good long-term investment with potential for income each month from the tenants. However, during a Massachusetts divorce process, rental income can present problems. This is because the properties are assets that must be divided, and they are also sources of income that may be considered for support calculations.

Relocating With Children After Divorce

People are much more mobile today than they were just a few years ago. This frequently creates a situation post-divorce where the parent who is the primary caretaker of the children, or who has "physical custody," needs to relocate due to job opportunities, remarriage, or other family commitments. This will obviously affect the non-custodial parent and their parenting time, so how does the court handle this situation?

Property Division - What is subject to division?

In some cases of divorce the court will order one spouse to pay the attorneys' fees of the other. This is most likely where there is the large disparity between the income levels of the parties, or if one of the parties unnecessarily escalates the attorneys' fees in the case by requiring litigation of issues and refusing to entertain settlement offers. It is also possible for the parties to reach an agreement on the payment of attorneys' fees as part of a marital settlement agreement.

Private School and Divorce

The issue of education is one that concerns many parents who wish to provide their children with as much, or more, then they had during their lifetime. Many families hope to provide their children with a top rate private education, and many plan financially for that even before the children are born. However, when families separate, there often remain questions about whether a private education will be possible, or if it will be continued after the separation and divorce. Generally, the issue of education is one of legal custody and the court would prefer the parents make the decision jointly as they know what is in the child's best interest. For many families, the issue is less about whether to utilize private school, and more about how to pay for the school.

Family Law Matters Podcast™: Episode One

We are excited to publish Episode One of the Reade Law Firm Family Law Matters Podcast TM. This episode will provide an overview of what you can expect from our podcasts, the purpose of the podcasts, as well as an overview of the kinds of matters the family law attorneys at the Reade Law Firm handle on a regular basis. In the future, check back to the blog post for links and other resources that might be referenced during the Podcast. As with all of our blog posts, our podcasts and the information provided is for general information purposes only, and should not be considered as legal advice for any particular case or set of circumstances. We hope you enjoy the podcast and we look forward to presenting the next one very soon!

Family Law Matters Podcast™ - Episode Two - Completing the Financial Statement

We are pleased to present Episode Two of our Family Law Matters Podcast, which relates to the article we recently posted discussing the Financial Statement, which is a document that is required of all parties in a family law proceeding within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. We recommend that you download a blank financial statement so that you can follow along with our discussion, and you can find links to the financial statements on our prior blog post here. We hope you find the podcast informative, but if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us.

Family Law Matters Podcast™ Three - Relocating from Massachusetts with Children After Divorce

In the third Family Law Matters TM Podcast, we discuss the difficult issue of relocating with children after the divorce. As we discussed in the previous article, this kind of situation is becoming more frequent, and we thought it was deserving of its own podcast discussion. No two cases are ever the same, and the court often struggles to find a solution to a problem that sometimes has no solution. The best approach to these cases is to present as many facts to the court as possible so that an informed decision can be reached. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any specific questions about your case.

Family Law Matters Podcast™ Four - Financial Concerns and Divorce

In this Podcast we welcome Michael Murray of Peabody Wealth Advisors. Mr. Murray is a financial planner and is an Accredited Investment Fiduciary®, an Investment Advisor Representative, and Registered Representative of SII Investments, Inc.® In this Episode we discuss how divorce can be one of the most expensive decisions of a person's life, yet many don't consider serious financial concerns facing each side prior to making the decision to seek a divorce. The lack of planning can have serious consequences and can have a negative effect on a person's future, especially their retirement planning. Those who have been in longer marriages should be particularly concerned about the financial ramifications of a divorce.

Family Law Matters Podcast: How is my insurance affected by divorce?

When going through something as emotional as a divorce, it is easy to overlook some of the finer details of your lives such as insurance. In this Family Law Matters Podcast, insurance expert Kathryn Boudreau of Circle Insurance provides individuals some important information regarding different lines of insurance for individuals and businesses.

Family Law Matters Podcast Episode 6 -- Estate Planning and Divorce

In this Family Law Matters Podcast, estate planning attorney Bridget Murrayof Cannon Murray Law provides some important information regarding estate planning and how a divorce can affect your current estate plan, and what changes should immediately be made after divorce.

Determining Parental Rights in Lesbian Same-Sex Divorces in Massachusetts

In early 2004, Massachusetts became the sixth jurisdiction in the world to legalize same-sex marriage when the Supreme Judicial Court held that it was unconstitutional to limit marriage to heterosexual couples under the Massachusetts Constitution (see, Goodridge v. Dept. of Public Health, 440 Mass 309 (2003)). Frequently when the marriage is between a lesbian couple, one of the partners seeks pregnancy through artificial insemination. This results in the birth of a child during the marriage, and both partners are listed on the birth certificate. Obviously the birth-mother has parental rights, but what of the other partner? Are any extra steps, such as adoption, necessary to solidify her standing as a legal parent of the child?

Completing Your Financial Statement in Probate & Family Court

The financial statement is the cornerstone of every divorce or paternity action. Judges use the information to calculate support payments and divide the marital estate. A divorce is often compared to the dissolution of a corporation or a business partnership, because both involve a careful and detailed division of the economic assets that have been acquired. The law sees both partners as a single economic entity during a marriage, and must then distribute the property of the marriage between the spouses in such a way that one is not unjustly enriched at the expense of the other. The court must also determine how much, if any, one party should support the other, and their children, during and after the matter is completed. It is critical that attention to detail be given its due, otherwise one, or even both, of the parties will be economically harmed.

Can the court use a new spouse's income to calculate child support?

It is often a concern to parties on both sides of a child support order whether a new spouse's income will effect a child support obligation. It is well settled that a new spouse, or any non-parent, is not responsible to support a child. Krokyn v. Krokym, 378 Mass. 206, 215 (1979). The more difficult situation is when, and to what extent, a new spouse's income should be considered by the court in calculating the payor's child support obligation.

Attorneys' Fee Shifting in Divorce Cases

In some cases of divorce the court will order one spouse to pay the attorneys' fees of the other. This is most likely where there is the large disparity between the income levels of the parties, or if one of the parties unnecessarily escalates the attorneys' fees in the case by requiring litigation of issues and refusing to entertain settlement offers. It is also possible for the parties to reach an agreement on the payment of attorneys' fees as part of a marital settlement agreement.

Assignment of Income: When can a court assign unearned income?

In cases where support is at issue in a Massachusetts divorce, whether it be child support or alimony, the court will look to evidence of the parties' respective incomes. For example, evidence can be in the form of financial statements, bank records, tax returns, and testimony, among other things. There are cases, however, when a party may be earning less than they could otherwise be making if they had a higher-paying job. The argument for these cases is that sometimes a party will intentionally accept a lower-paying job in order to keep their support obligations to a minimum. However, the court could take into consideration a party's past employment, along with their experience and training, to determine that they could be earning more than they really are. If this happens, the Court could then assign, impute, or attribute income to that party as if they were actually earning that amount. The child support or alimony obligation would then be determined as if the higher level of income was actually being earned.

Affairs and Divorce - How the Courts View Spousal Misconduct

Following the Ashley Madison website scandal, many legal scholars expected a frenzy of divorce filings would follow as people learned that their spouse was among those identified in the Ashley Madison hack. In fact, according to some statistics, Massachusetts was ranked seventh highest among states with active members at the time of the hack. Opinions will vary as to whether this increase occurred, and in the meantime we are often asked if the court will punish a spouse for misconduct, leaving the "victim" spouse with a larger share of the assets for this breach of trust? If so, what type of misconduct, or what degree of misconduct, is punishable?

5 Considerations During a Divorce

Any issue relating to family matters-divorce, separation, custody, support, alimony, property division-are highly emotional and difficult for even the most sensible individuals to navigate. However, in most cases, not only do people have to deal with their own emotions, but have to interact with a current or former spouse who is as equally emotional, all the while trying to determine the best interest of themselves and their children. Most people end up confused and exhausted, while trying to act reasonably and heed their lawyer's advice. From a lawyer's perspective, below are 5 considerations to help make the process smoother, reduce court time, and reduce lawyer's fees as much as possible.

10 Divorce Myths Uncovered

  1. It is OK to deny visitation if the other parent does not pay child support.

    Parents often feel that child support and visitation are related and that the paying parent should have time with the children only if he/she is current on their support or that paying support entitles the payor to time with the children. The two issues are absolutely unrelated. Custody, or parenting time, is the time each parent spends with the children to build a relationship, teach, love and nurture the children. Parents do not visit with their children nor are they required to pay for this "visitation" time. Conversely, the payment of child support is essential to the care of the children to ensure they are provided with the food, shelter, clothing and other essential needs. The courts take these orders for child support seriously and consequences for non payment can be severe, but just as severe is the consequences for interfering with a parent's relationship with his/her children.

  • CA State Bar Association
  • MA Bar Association
  • Essex County Bar Association
  • Salem Bar Association
  • Women's Bar Association
  • Avvo

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