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Mandatory Disclosure in Divorce

In Massachusetts, when a party files for Divorce, Massachusetts Rules of Domestic Relations Procedure, Supplemental Rule 410, Mandatory Self Disclosure, requires that certain documentation be disclosed to the other party within 45 days of service of the summons for a divorce proceeding. The parties may agree otherwise or the court may order a disclosure or non-disclosure. The documentation that must be disclosed is as follows: (1) The parties’ federal and state income tax returns and schedules for the past three (3) years and any non- public, limited partnership and privately held corporate returns for any entity in which either party has an interest together with all supporting documentation for tax returns, including but not limited to W-2’s, 1099’s 1098’s, K- 1, Schedule C and Schedule E. (2) The four (4) most recent pay stubs from each employer for whom the party worked. (3) Documentation regarding the cost and nature of available health insurance coverage. (4) Statements for the past three (3) years for all bank accounts held in the name of either party individually or jointly, or in the name of another person for the benefit of either party, or held by either party for the benefit of the parties’ minor child(ren). (5) Statements for the past three (3) years for any securities, stocks, bonds, notes or obligations, certificates of deposit owned or held by either party or held by either party for the benefit of the parties’ minor child(ren), 401K statements, IRA statements, and pension plan statements for all

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Child Support Guidelines – What are they? How have they changed?

In Massachusetts, the Commonwealth uses Child Support Guidelines to estimate the correct amount of child support to be paid. The amount of support is determined by a set of factors outlined in the Child Support Guidelines and by applying the applicable factors to a Child Support Worksheet. The worksheet is calculated to reflect the amount of money for the benefit of the children that the custodial parent (who the children reside with primarily) will receive from the non-custodial parent. When there is a joint custodial arrangement the worksheet is calculated by having each parent as the recipient and subtracting the difference between the two outcomes. The factors that the guidelines consider are things such as, each parents’ income, the costs for health insurance, the costs for child care, and any other relevant costs. The court can also order the payment of college expense and extracurricular activities. On Friday, September 15, 2017, the Commonwealth will be implementing new Child Support Guidelines. The changes were made by a task force after careful review and consideration of the increased costs associated with raising a child in Massachusetts. Key changes that were made to the guidelines are as follows: 1) Minimum support increased from the 2002 standard of $18.46 per week to $25.00 per week due to an increase in the overall cost of living in Massachusetts since 2002. 2) Actual time spent parenting is not determinative of Child Support. The new guidelines are based on only two scenarios, joint custody and one parent

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Why did I get my license taken away for an Immediate Threat?

If your license was removed for an immediate threat, it typically means there is some sort of precipitating factor that lead the Registry of Motor Vehicles (hereinafter “RMV”) to issue a suspension. In some cases, the suspension is discretionary, meaning that the RMV thinks that your operation of a motor vehicle poses an immediate threat to public safety. The RMV can revoke without notice for an infinite period. Some statutes require the RMV to enforce a mandatory suspension, such as: conviction of a criminal motor vehicle violation, administrative actions regarding alcohol or drugs, conviction of a drug offense with intent to distribute, a suspension issued in another state, and many others. If your license is revoked due to an immediate threat, you would receive notice to your address on record. Additionally, in most cases you are entitled to a hearing with the RMV. A lot of clients ask how they can just revoke the license without any hearing or conviction first. The most important thing to understand with RMV issues is that driving is a privilege and not a right. The RMV operates on a different system than our traditional court of law system. In the court system, you are innocent until proven guilty, but in an RMV system, your license can be taken away and on a later date you can refute the claims and hopefully reinstate your license. If you find yourself in a situation where your license was removed for an immediate threat, call David Gabriel &

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Using Marital Assets to Pay for your Divorce

Can I use money from my joint account to pay for my Divorce? Can I get my spouse to pay for my divorce? The financial part of divorce can be overwhelming to many clients. Many clients did not handle the finances in their marriage, did not work during their marriage, or are generally unaware of what they can and can’t do with joint funds during divorce proceedings. In Massachusetts, when a party files for divorce an automatic financial restraining order is used with the summons that is served on the other party. The automatic restraining order restricts either party from selling, transferring, encumbering, assigning, removing or in any way disposing of any property, real or personal, belonging to or acquired by, either party. However, there are few notable exceptions to this rule, one being that either party can use funds for reasonable attorney’s fees and costs in connection with the action. This means that any joint funds could be used within reason to pay for your divorce. That being said, we often suggest that if a client knows they are going to file for divorce, that they set aside some money into a personal account for fees and costs prior to filing for divorce. This method prevents a potentially contentious argument about using money directly for your joint accounts. Additionally, clients often ask if they can have their spouse pay for the divorce. If there is a large income disparity, the moving party can motion the court pursuant to M.G.L.C

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Can I bring my significant other or children to my court hearing?

This is often a question that clients ask us. The simple answer is no, we advise against it. But you may be wondering why? We advise bringing a significant other or your children to your court hearing for a multitude of reasons. For one, children are often the subject of the hearing and it would be inappropriate and unfair to the child to be witness to the hearing. If the child is not subject to the hearing, we still advise against having them accompany you because you need to give your full attention to your attorney’s and the hearing. We further suggest that that boyfriends and girlfriends are left at home. Again, in contentious cases there are often accusations thrown about regarding your significant other, to have said person present would potentially lead to more conflict and distraction. So remember, as much as we want our clients to have support, it is better for your case if the crowd of supporters is restricted.

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Celebrity’s courtroom antics may have damaged his custody case

The custody trial involving media celebrity Alex Jones ended with the father of three losing physical custody of the children to his ex-wife. It’s a rather dramatic turn-around, given that his ex-wife has had only occasional supervised visitation for the last two years. We’ve previously discussed the question of whether or not the bombastic star of “Infowars” could lose custody of his children due to his on-the-air antics. His attorneys effectively dealt with the question of what their client was really like by trying to distance the man from the media persona he’d created. They were successful at keeping most of the media clips from “Infowars” from being shown in court. What they couldn’t control was their client — his own actions in court may have been the undoing of his defense and destroyed what seemed like a solid footing against his ex-wife’s custody case. When first divorced, Jones had enjoyed the support of a slew of professionals. They had declared his ex-wife’s “emotional dysregulation” a danger to the children, stripping her of most of her time with the children. Somehow, the fact that Jones was diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder, a serious mental health issue, escaped notice. His ex-wife’s current legal team focused on the media star’s disorder and his determination to keep the children and their mother apart. They said that previous experts had missed the classic signs of parental alienation syndrome, where one parent engages in actions designed to encourage the children to disrespect, loathe and even

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3 tips to protect yourself financially in a divorce

If you had to, could you list off your family’s income, assets and debts with a reasonable certainty? If the answer is, “No,” then you need to educate yourself financially before you initiate your divorce. Many times, high-profile couples have prospered together with one spouse taking the financial reigns and the other handling the home and children. When a divorce happens, the less financially-educated spouse often has no idea what sort of stock options the couple holds, what other investments they have or even what banks they’re spread around. Sometimes they aren’t even aware of property they own because the spouse handling the income bought it as an investment and didn’t bother telling them. Here are three things that you need to do as quickly as possible if you suspect a divorce is on the horizon: — Document everything. Get copies of every tax return, deed, bank record, bill or brokerage statements. Get your insurance paperwork together, including inventories of the household goods. Copies of your spouse’s business records for the last several years are also valuable — especially if you think the business may be worth more than he or she is letting on. 2. Put money aside. You are going to need more money than you realize — part of it will go to attorney fees, but part of it will go to just ordinary living expenses and you probably don’t really know what those are yet. You may have additional expenses like therapy bills, new furniture for

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Could ‘Infowars’ broadcaster’s custody rights be in jeopardy?

Judges in custody cases have a pretty wide latitude to consider virtually anything that they consider relevant to the child’s best interest. That could be bad new for Alex Jones, the fiery host of the broadcast show “Infowars.” The hyperbolic conspiracy theorist has promoted some widely-debunked claims, like the idea that the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting was just a hoax and the “Pizzagate” rumor, which suggested Bill and Hillary Clinton were running a pedophile ring through a Washington D.C. pizza place. His rhetoric is often vile, volatile, and openly suggestive of violence. His ex-wife thinks that this is a bad thing for the kids to be around and wants the court to award her (preferably) sole custody of their three children. His attorney says that “Alex Jones the performance artist” is just a persona spouting the rhetoric he supposedly endorses on his show. Alex Jones, the father of three, is supposedly a totally different person. His ex-wife disagrees. She states that his rantings aren’t just about ratings — that they prove he’s both unstable and unfit as a parent. His ex-wife has cited numerous examples of his inflammatory behavior that she feels are indicative of his mental state, including things like challenging actor Alec Baldwin to a fight and alleging that former President Obama founded the Muslim terrorist group ISIS. While the judge in his case has said that she wants to keep the focus on the children and not on “Infowars,” she is allowing clips from the show

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Gray divorces: Why they happen and how to avoid them

Somewhere around 2007, a new phrase entered the vocabulary of the divorce attorney: “gray divorce.” It was once virtually unheard of for couples who had been together for decades to divorce, no matter how decayed the bonds of their matrimony — now, it’s becoming much more commonplace. Some divorce attorneys think they know the reason for the trend — it’s really as simple as the fact that human longevity has increased. People are living longer and staying healthier well into their seventh and eighth decades. Only a few generations past, someone who was aged 60 or older might decide that the hassle of a divorce was pointless, given how much longer he or she expected to live an active lifestyle. Now, people approaching their 60s are seeing a future for themselves with another 20-25 healthy, active years and deciding that they don’t want to spend the last 20-25 years of their lives in a miserable marriage. Hopefully, you can avoid joining their ranks by following a few simple pieces of advice; — Don’t assume that just because you’re okay with the marriage that your spouse is also okay with the marriage. Talk about where you each are, emotionally, as you start to approach those “gray” years. — Take a frank assessment of your romantic life. Is it what you need it to be? Have all the other hassles of life gotten in the way and made you forget to pay attention to that part of your relationship? It’s time to

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Immigrants tying the knot after signing a prenup

Because the current political climate has taken a darker turn toward immigrants, a lot of foreign nationals are “tying the knot” with their American brides and grooms almost impulsively. Marrying a United States citizen is one of the quickest ways to achieve your lawful permanent resident status, or green card. However, an impulsive marriage could raise red flags with immigration officials, especially if it includes a prenuptial agreement. Immigration attorneys say that many of the international couples who are rushing their weddings are also getting prenups — just in case the marriages don’t work out — to protect their assets. Prenups aren’t unusual, especially for professional couples with considerable wealth. About 14 percent of couples have them. A prenup would seem like a reasonable thing to do, especially if a couple is marrying after a whirlwind romance or a long-distance love affair. However, most of those couples don’t have to worry about an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent investigating whether or not the marriage is a fraud designed to get around restrictive immigration laws. If a marriage is deemed a sham, the consequences can be serious — it could include deportation, the inability to return to the United States or even incarceration. One of the many things that ICE agents look at when they determine if a marriage is real is whether or not the couple has jointly-held assets and mingled their funds. A prenup may make that difficult to do because it’s essentially designed to keep that from happening

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