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FAQ’s About Divorce in Massachusetts

Here are some common FAQ’s About Divorce in Massachusetts:

 

Q: Should I file first for divorce?

A: The answer to this question is largely a case-specific answer.

 

The determination of value of assets, which goes to the equitable division of marital assets pursuant to M.G.L. c. 208 §34, is determined from the date of marriage to the date the Defendant was served. Thus, if the plaintiff intends on acquiring substantial assets in the future, it could be beneficial to file for divorce prior to acquiring these assets.

 

Additionally, should the divorce case go to trial, the Plaintiff has the right to present their case first, along with the right of rebuttal after the Defendant has presented his/her side of the case. Being able to be the party to present his/her case first at trial can set the tone of the trial, and leave an impression on the judge.

 

However, divorce is also a very emotional and personal decision. If you believe that you are not emotionally ready to file for divorce, or that the marriage may still … Read More »



Financial Planning For and During a Divorce

financial planning divorce

A divorce brings about many changes in a person’s life. One of the most significant changes is the financial impact of a divorce. Spouses go from having a combined household with (usually) two separate incomes, to living apart, and supporting themselves on their own. If you are contemplating a divorce, or have already filed for divorce, there are different actions you can take to plan for your own financial future after a divorce.

 

Create a Budget:

Review your household expenses to see what your weekly/monthly expenses come out to. In addition to including the usual expenses (i.e. mortgage/rent, utilities, heat, cable TV, telephone, groceries, clothing, etc.), don’t forget to include other typical expenses, such as uninsured medical expenses, motor vehicle expenses, child care, vacation and entertainment, education costs for yourself and your children.

Once you have your budget, look at what your income is, and what it is likely to be at the end of the divorce. Don’t forget to factor in any alimony and/or child support that you may be paying or receiving.

Based upon … Read More »



‘Happy Valentine’s Day. I Want a Divorce.’

Valentine’s Day is approaching — and it turns out the weeks leading up to this most romantic of holidays also mark the highpoint of “divorce season.”

While there’s no national database tracking divorce filings, anecdotally, attorneys report that January and February tend to be the busiest months of the year in terms of divorce inquiries.

Why? In large part it’s a holiday hangover. A recent poll by my divorce mediation company, showed that one in 12 people (and one in eight women!) are considering divorce during the holidays. And as soon as the holidays are over, many make it their New Year’s resolution to begin again and start divorce proceedings.

I’ve worked in family law for 12 years and without fail, my phone starts ringing off the hook on January 2nd. Most start by asking for the lay of the land — they want to know their options.

Unfortunately, most people still think of divorce as the 1980s War of the Roses scenario, where each party hires the meanest pitbull of a lawyer they can find, spends thousands of dollars on legal fees and … Read More »



Divorce Mediation & Negotiation Rule One: Be Cordial

Divorce Mediation & Negotiation Rule One: Be Cordial Rule One: Be Cordial

(Provided by © National Legal Research Group, Inc.)

There is an old saying that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. By the time the parties are divorcing, the parties are pretty much used to dealing with each other by yelling and screaming. The lawyer should not posture in front of the client and should tell the client that he/she will not posture. Clients watch TV and need to be told that effective advocacy does not mean putting on a show for the client’s benefit.

This is not as simple as it sounds. Unfortunately, television has conditioned many clients that cordial conduct is not what to expect from a lawyer. Rather, the TV lawyer postures, threatens, intimidates and is rude. Then comes the commercial while the other side backs down.

It would be nice, but naive, to suggest that it is sufficient merely to be cordial. We do not practice law in a vacuum, however. In family law, we … Read More »



Prenuptial Agreements in Massachusetts

What is a Prenuptial Agreement? Do you need one? Contact Amaral & Associates for the answers you need regarding Prenuptial Agreements in Massachusetts.Q: What is a Prenuptial Agreement?

A: A Prenuptial Agreement is a contract between an engaged couple who is planning to marry, in which the contract, divides all (or some) of each individual’s property in the event of divorce and/or death. It can also determine whether any alimony will be paid in the event of a separation or divorce.

Q: Who needs a Prenuptial Agreement?

A: Anyone who is getting married and you have any assets that he/she wants to protect, even if it is just one asset, needs a Prenuptial Agreement.

Q: What are some common terms included in a Prenuptial Agreement?

A: A Prenuptial Agreement can be drafted:

To protect a substantial inheritance or an interest in a trust; To protect an interest in a business; To provide for children from a previous … Read More »



General Term Alimony: What is It?

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Q: What is General Term Alimony?

A: There are 4 types of alimony under Massachusetts law. The four types are:

General Term Alimony: the periodic payment of support to a recipient spouse who is economically dependent. Rehabilitative alimony: the periodic payment of support to a recipient spouse who is expected to become economically self-sufficient by a predicted time, such as, without limitation, reemployment; completion of job training; or receipt of a sum due from the payor spouse under a judgment. Reimbursement alimony: the periodic or one-time payment of support to a recipient spouse after a marriage of not more than 5 years to compensate the recipient spouse for economic or noneconomic contribution to the financial resources of the payor spouse, such as enabling the payor spouse to complete an education or job training. Transitional alimony: the periodic or one-time payment of support to a recipient spouse after a marriage of not more than 5 years to transition the recipient spouse to an adjusted lifestyle or location as a result of the divorce.

 

General Term Alimony is the most … Read More »



How Much Will My Divorce Cost?

What are the legal fees of divorce?Many times one of the first questions a potential client will ask our firm is “How much will my divorce cost?” Unfortunately, there is no straight answer for this question. There are many variable factors that can affect how much a divorce will cost, and there is no “standard” legal fees for a divorce.

One of the biggest factors to determine how much a divorce will cost is whether the divorce is contested or uncontested. With uncontested divorces in Massachusetts (also known as IA divorces), spouses not only agree to get divorce, but agree to the terms of settlement of the divorce. They then jointly file with the court a Joint Petition for Divorce along with a Separation Agreement that outlines the terms of settlement. There is then only one court hearing to approve the documents that have been jointly filed by both spouses. Whereas, in a contested divorce, either one spouse opposes the divorce altogether, or the spouses cannot agree on some of the terms … Read More »



Divorce Mediation: Preparing Your Case

Now that you have made the wise decision to mediate your divorce case, it’s time to do your homework. As you know, mediation provides a mechanism for disputing parties to reach an amicable and well thought out resolution to a divorce, without having to depend on the court to make decisions for you and your spouse. In order to get as much out of your mediation as possible, you need to first do some basic research.

Now that you have made the wise decision to mediate your divorce case, it’s time to do your homework. As you know, mediation provides a mechanism for disputing parties to reach an amicable and well thought out resolution to a divorce, without having to depend on the court to make decisions for you and your spouse. In order to get as much out of your mediation as possible, you need to first do some basic research.

To be sure, divorce mediation is not a formal process like a contested divorce trial would be, but you should prepare your case as though you were going to trial. Whether you will be paying support to your spouse in the … Read More »



The Benefits of Mediating or Arbitrating Your Family Law Case

In Massachusetts, divorce and Family Law cases are handled by the Probate and Family Court. Under Massachusetts, law, proceedings in the Probate and Family Court are public and can be observed by anyone. Additionally, almost all cases in the Probate and Family Court are scheduled to be heard at 8:30 a.m. (which can be as many as 75-100 cases scheduled to be heard that day), and then the judge calls all cases in whatever order he/she deems fit. This means, if your case is heard first, there can be over 100 people in the courtroom to listen to the issues pending in your case.

Mediation

Additionally, the Probate and Family Court is notoriously backlogged. Thus, it can take a few months before a motion on your case is heard, and a few years before your case goes to trial.

 

Given the very sensitive nature of divorce and Family Law proceedings, many spouses and parents do not want their family issues presented and argued in open court. Further, given the nature of … Read More »



How Much Alimony Will I Get?

In any divorce, a common question divorce attorneys get is “Will I get alimony, and if so, how much?” In Massachusetts this is determined under the Alimony Reform Act of 2011, which is codified at Massachusetts General Laws c. 208 §§48-54. Under the Alimony Reform Act, there are 4 different categories/types of alimony: 1) General Term Alimony; 2) Rehabilitative Alimony; 3) Reimbursement Alimony; and 4) Transitional Alimony.

alimony

Under Massachusetts law, the Probate and Family Court must consider several factors to determine: a) whether either spouse is entitled to alimony; b) what type of alimony a spouse is entitled to; and c) how much alimony is a spouse entitled to. These factors are:

 

the length of the marriage; age of the parties; health of the parties; income, employment and employability of both parties, including employability through reasonable diligence and additional training, if necessary; economic and non-economic contribution of both parties to the marriage; marital lifestyle; ability of each party to maintain the marital lifestyle; lost economic opportunity as a result of the marriage; and such other factors as the court considers relevant and material.

 

Although many of these factors are … Read More »



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