Common Myths in Massachusetts Family Law Every Parent Should Know

When it comes to divorcing and family law, things get complicated quickly. It’s essential to know your rights regarding your children. Presented here are some common myths every parent should be made aware of during divorce or custody proceedings. Myth: A parent’s failure to pay child support can result in the parent being kept from seeing the children Only a judge can determine visitation rights. If a parent fails to pay child support, the other parent is not automatically given the right to withhold visitation. The Court’s orders for visitation cannot be ignored simply because the child support account is two months or even two years delinquent. Myth: If a parent doesn’t agree with the court orders, they can move the kids out of state Once an action involving custody of children (divorce, domestic abuse, guardianship, etc.) is filed in Massachusetts, neither party can remove a child from the state without permission from the other parent or a judge. This act of moving a child out of state without permission can result in criminal charges. A modification with a compelling reason to move with the children, such as once-in-a-lifetime education, family, or work opportunity, must be filed to remove children from the state legally. Myth: He/She cheated on me, so I should get everything Infidelity is grounds for divorce in Massachusetts, however, in a divorce, a judge must consider many factors in making a decision, including all conduct of the parties during the entire marriage, good and bad. It is

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Don’t Fall Victim to Hidden Assets During Divorce

When it comes to divorce in Massachusetts, everything related to finances must be fully disclosed. This includes every single asset, purchased together or otherwise, as well as all accumulated debts. Each spouse is instructed to report known findings through a financial affidavit. It is against the law to purposely hide, understate, or overstate assets, as well as any marital property, debt, income, or expense. In extreme cases, this can potentially lead to the withholding party being sentenced to serve time in jail. If you suspect your spouse of attempting to hide assets, it’s imperative to retain a divorce lawyer who has significant experience discovering hidden or undervalued assets. A top-notch Massachusetts divorce lawyer will know the tricks used to hide assets and work with forensic accountants, investigators, and other experts to uncover these attempts to mislead the system. Some common methods of hiding assets are outlined below. Overpaying the IRS Spouses who anticipate that their divorces will be finalized during the next tax season have been caught intentionally overpaying the IRS. If undetected, this gives them a way to shelter money and provide them with a head start on the following year’s taxes once the divorce becomes final. Selling Assets to Friends Be wary of transactions made between a spouse and a close friend or confidante. This is a tactic commonly used to hide assets whereby an arrangement is made to return or ‘sell back’ assets following divorce finalization. Delaying Financial Gains It is not uncommon for a spouse expecting

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How to Get a Protective Order Against an Abusive Partner or Spouse

Domestic abuse is a serious and even life-threatening situation—and there are legal remedies to help survivors protect themselves, their children, and their property as they make the brave decision to escape an abusive situation and begin moving forward with their lives. One of the most important tools available to victims of domestic abuse is the restraining order. In Massachusetts, a restraining order is known as a an “Abuse Prevention Order” or a “209A Order.” This name refers to Chapter 209A of the Massachusetts legal code, entitled the Massachusetts Abuse Prevention Act, which defines domestic abuse. According to Chapter 209A, domestic abuse may be: 1. Physical violence 2. Attempts to harm with physical violence 3. Causing another person credible fear of serious harm 4. Coercing another person into sexual relations through physical force, the threat of force, or duress Acts of physical violence are themselves criminal offenses subject to prosecution in Massachusetts. While emotional and verbal abuse are not defined as crimes under Massachusetts law, they are recognized as common features of abusive situations and relationships. Financial abuse—the withholding of or control over a partner’s financial or material resources—is another feature of abusive situations. A 209A protective order may be filed for at any Massachusetts court—superior, general, or probate and family. A protective order can require an abuser to cease abusive behavior, to avoid all contact with the protected party, to vacate a shared household, and/or to surrender firearms licenses and weapons. As mentioned above, probate and family courts can award

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Post-Divorce Complaint for Out-of-State Removal

Representing former wife in post-divorce action for Removal, seeking permission to relocate to another state.    Father opposed Mother’s complaint for removal and sought to prohibit Mother from moving out of state with the parties’ minor child.  The matter was tried.  Mother was granted permission to move.

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Complaint for Modification of Custody

Representing the former wife (Mother) in a post-divorce complaint for modification, seeking to modify existing judgment granting husband (Father) joint legal custody and parenting time with two minor children of the marriage.     Mother alleged that Father was abusive, suffering from substance abuse and mental health issues.  Mother alleged that Father was incapable of safely caring for the children.  Extensive cross examination of court appointed guardian ad litem.  Result in Mother’s favor.  Mother granted sole legal and physical custody of the children after trial. Father granted restricted supervised parenting time with professional supervisor at Father’s sole expenses.

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Mistakes to Avoid During Alimony Negotiations

As a Massachusetts resident going through a divorce, you’re not alone. No matter your reason for divorce, one of the most contentious issues that arise in any divorce is the subject of alimony. Alimony payments—also known in some states as “spousal support” or “maintenance” is the legal obligation that a supporting spouse pay to the supported spouse. Massachusetts courts generally award alimony to the lower-earning spouse so that spouse can maintain a reasonable standard of living during and after divorce. In the commonwealth of Massachusetts, several types of alimony can be awarded. They are called rehabilitative, reimbursement, transitional, and general alimony. When a spouse is in need of additional education or job training to become financially independent, rehabilitative alimony can be awarded for up to five years. Reimbursement alimony may be ordered as compensation to a spouse who financially supported the family while completing an education or job training during the marriage. For short-term marriages, those lasting less than five years, the court may award transitional alimony to help the recipient spouse adjust to a new lifestyle or location. General alimony may be ordered by the court, depending on the length of your marriage. More times than not, one spouse will have to pay the other a set amount of money, at least temporarily. Both parties should be aware of the following mistakes. Mistake #1 Many people are under the false assumption that if they spend a lot of money before going to court, they will have to pay less.

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Restraining Order

Representing the defendant (male).   Female sought and obtained emergency restraining order, claiming that approximately two months prior she was forced to have sexual intercourse with the defendant and that she was physically and emotionally harmed during alleged incident.   The defendant opposed the issuance of a temporary order at the ten day hearing.  The court heard testimony.  The complaining witness was subject to cross examination.  She acknowledged inviting the defendant over to her residence, exhibiting aggressive sexual behavior during the alleged incident, texting and continuing to spend time alone with the defendant voluntarily, following the alleged incident, resulting in the order being vacated.

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Is it legal to videotape my spouse behaving badly (verbal or physical abuse, infidelity, etc) as evidence in a divorce case?

As thoughts turn towards divorce, tempers can flare and people may behave in ways they normally would not be proud of, even in a relatively amicable situation. Of course, the bad behavior of a spouse—ranging from neglect of household duties to infidelity to abusive actions—may well have begun long before the divorce, and may well be the reason for it. In seeking a favorable divorce settlement, one that compensates you for violations of the marriage contract and shields you from your spouse’s ongoing bad behavior, you will want to have evidence to bolster your claims. In a world of smart phones, where everyone has both a video camera and a broadcasting station in their pockets, you may be tempted to record your spouse’s bad behavior. In a word: don’t. Massachusetts laws on recording interactions between persons are possibly the strictest in the nation. While many states have “two-party consent” laws, meaning that both (or all) people on a recording must know they are being recorded and consent to it, the Commonwealth takes it a step further. Recording private conversations falls under Massachusetts statute chapter 272, section 99, also known as the wiretap statute. Explicitly instituted as a measure against organized crime, the statute is of theoretical interest to law students because it addresses both police and civilian conduct with regard to recording in the same law. For civilians, there is an explicit ban on recording wire communications (i.e. phone conversations) and a ban on any audio recording by other means

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