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Divorcing individuals in Massachusetts should examine their finances

Because couples in Massachusetts are not immune to potentially going through divorce, it is important to understand what separation could mean if such a decision is made. Financial needs will differ after a couple separates, and there will be many agreements that will need to be made in terms of alimony and other aspects. As a result, it is important for parties to understand their financial situation before divorce takes place. Bank accounts are one area that should be noted before separation. This examination will allow a party to understand how much money is in those accounts and what division of those funds could mean for their situation. If divorce has been decided upon, opening a bank account that is not shared with the other party is a wise step. Examining the debt that could be taken on after divorce is also an action that an individual may wish to carry out. Attempting to diffuse any accumulated debt before the separation would be ideal. However, many individuals know that it is not always easy to repay balances quickly, and therefore, preparing a payment plan for after divorce could be beneficial. Financial needs are important to assess at any time, but it can make a considerable difference when divorce is on the horizon. Understanding the current state of finances will help prepare for the future and how those funds will be impacted by alimony, child support and property division. Having the right information on such issues can play a role in

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Complex asset distribution in a divorce

If you have brought considerable assets into your marriage, or your marriage has lasted long enough for you to accumulate substantial wealth and material possessions, the ending of the marriage by divorce can be an even more stress-filled endeavor than it is ordinarily. It is not just accurately assessing the dollar value that can be problematic; you can also have a contentious experience with your soon-to-be ex-spouse as to who is entitled to what. You may have a nice home, considerable liquid assets in a variety of accounts, a substantial investment portfolio, real estate holdings other than your home, pensions and other retirement accounts, and so on. If you have worked closely with an accountant to protect your assets, you might also have structured your holdings to minimize your tax consequences, but in an asset division this can add to your potential headaches. Helping our clients to understand equitable distribution in Massachusetts, particularly with high-value assets on the line, is something that we at David M. Gabriel & Associates have extensive experience with. We can help you to carefully assess each asset’s actual value, and to navigate specific circumstances like assets connected to a business or properly determining whether an asset is a marital or a separate one. Your divorce may be amicable, but complex asset division can still become a source of friction when it comes to reaching a fair settlement. You will want a law firm to represent you that diligently represents your interests. To learn more about

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Financial planning during separation is essential

While finances are an integral part of most divorce settlements, the process of divorce can take some time. Meanwhile, if you and your spouse are living apart, your finances are in limbo. This includes everything from joint bank accounts to mortgage payments and other household expenses to your kids’ needs. Even if you and your estranged spouse are getting along well enough to work out these things between yourselves, it’s a good idea to have your Massachusetts family law attorney help you work out a formal agreement — particularly if only one person is the wage earner or has a significantly higher income than the other. That way you have some assurance that necessary expenses will be covered even if the divorce turns rancorous. This agreement can also help as you determine what type of settlement to seek in the divorce. This involves some budget planning. If you’re going to be living separately during the divorce proceedings, as most people do, you each need to create separate budgets to cover your housing, food and utilities. Unfortunately, some couples need to stay together under one roof for a while because they simply can’t afford two households. However, if that situation is untenable, it’s best to work out a way to manage two homes, even if it means cutting back on other spending. It’s best to start separating your bank accounts as well as your credit cards and other debt. As long as your name is on a credit card, he or

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How do you know if it’s time to find a new therapist?

If you seek the help of a therapist while going through a divorce, it can make a significant difference in how successful you are in moving on with your life. However, not all therapists, no matter how prestigious their alma maters and how many best-selling books they’ve written, are necessarily good at one-on-one counseling. If you’ve never been “in therapy,” it can be hard to know what you should and shouldn’t accept from a therapist. One psychotherapist notes some important “red flags” that people should look out for. — Critical: A good therapist will help you see things about yourself that you should change to have healthier relationships and a happier life. Sometimes that involves a little “tough love.” However, that criticism should never be unkind or insulting. — Self-absorbed: While some therapists will share their own experiences if they believe it’s helpful to their patients, that should be done sparingly. You’re not paying to hear about their lives. Your sessions should focus on you — not your therapist. — Distracted: You should be the sole focus of your therapist during your session. If your therapist is checking emails, sending texts, taking phone calls or even watching the clock, call him or her out on it. You’re paying for that person’s time and expertise. — Inappropriate: Unfortunately, some therapists don’t understand the appropriate boundaries of their professions. While a hug or comforting pat may be welcome and needed, if your therapist’s physical contact moves beyond that or if he or

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Same-sex couples still face divorce, child custody issues

Two women who was legally married here in Massachusetts in 2009 are now embroiled in a custody dispute as they go through a divorce in Mississippi. It’s a not-uncommon dilemma for gay couples who faced a patchwork of state laws regarding same-sex marriage prior to its national legalization. Same-sex marriage didn’t become legal in Mississippi until the June 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision. It was still being battled in the courts until the following month. Although all states now have to legally recognize the rights of gay couples to marry, when it comes to getting divorced, particularly when there are children involved, many find themselves in a legal quagmire. The two women who returned to their home state of Mississippi after marrying in Massachusetts have two children — one adopted and one conceived through in vitro fertilization. However, only one of the women is considered the children’s legal parent. The woman who is not listed as the older child’s adoptive mother and is not the birth mother of the younger child says that the couple raised the children together, but now she has no parental rights, even for visitation. The women separated in 2013, before their marriage was recognized in Mississippi. One served the other with divorce papers in the summer of 2015, after their marriage became legally recognized. As with many divorcing couples, the relationship deteriorated into accusations and counter-accusations. However, unlike many custody disputes, one spouse isn’t recognized under the law as a parent of the children involved.

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Many couples don’t talk about retirement funds

When heading to divorce, one of the most important things to do is to list out all of your assets and your spouse’s assets. To know what a fair split of your property will look like, you need to know exactly what property is there. This is something that sounds easy on the outside. Wouldn’t both people naturally know how much money was in the bank, how much was saved for retirement and how much was invested? You hear stories about spouses hiding money, but they seem curious if you assume that couples talk about money and know what should be there. Well, a new study showed that couples don’t actually talk about this as much as you may think. Couples were asked if they knew how much their partner had saved up for retirement. They weren’t even asked to give an exact figure, but just to give a ballpark number — $10,000, for example, or $200,000. In 21 percent of the cases, they simply couldn’t do it. Experts note that there could be a distinct decision not to disclose these amounts. People may feel that financial information is personal and they’re not interested in opening up all aspects of their lives, even after marriage. However, they do admit that, for some couples, the question just never came up and was never addressed. Regardless, though, this shows how difficult property division can be. It doesn’t matter why you don’t know what your partner has; it just matters that you don’t.

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Indications that your ex may not trust your parenting

You do what you can to be a great parent to your child after a divorce, but does it seem like your ex just doesn’t trust you? One woman said that she thought her and her spouse would be able to split up cleanly and move on, but things didn’t go nearly as well as she’d hoped because her ex considered her to be the “other” mom, the one who wasn’t as capable of raising the child. According to her, the following are indicators that this is happening: — Your ex checks up with doctors, teachers and others after meetings that you attended to make sure things went well. — When you have the kids for any amount of time and you drop them back off, your ex wants detailed reports about what you did and when. — Your ex shames you for working too much and not spending as much time with the kids. This can be done in a way that implies that she is the real, caring mother, while you’re not. — Your ex spends time with the kids, while you end up paying child support. — Most of your children’s possessions end up at your ex’s house. A toy bought as a birthday present, for example, may go to the house when the next custody switch happens, and you’ll never see it again. Knowing what these signs look like can be important even as you’re still working through the divorce. The two of you will need

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Securing a father’s rights when a child is born

It’s crucial for fathers to understand how their relationship to a child is established, depending on the situation surrounding the child’s birth. This can help them to secure their rights when going through a divorce in Massachusetts. First off, a man is legally presumed to be the father if a child is born and the man and that child’s mother are married. While it’s true that this may not be the case — if infidelity was involved, for example — that assumption is made unless the truth is shown to be different. The same presumption is made even if the mother was pregnant before the two got married. For example, if a couple was dating, found out that the woman was two months pregnant and decided to quickly marry before the child’s birth, the same legal presumptions fall into place as if they’d gotten married two months earlier. The difference comes if the parents wait until the child has already been born and then they get married. If this happens, a legitimation form has to be signed. This claims that the man is the child’s father and gives him the rights he would have automatically gotten if the two had tied the knot before the birth. Finally, for parents who don’t get married, a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity may need to be used. This is similar to the legitimation form noted above, in that it establishes legal grounds to consider the man the child’s father. Parents don’t have to wait

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Stock options, though easily overlooked, could be valuable

People who get divorced often think about their rights regarding company-controlled assets. This doesn’t just mean a regular paycheck, but could also mean benefits or a pension plan. One thing they may often overlook, though, is the value of stock options. Stock options typically can be used in the first decade that the employee is with the company. Essentially, they mean that the employee can purchase stock in the company at the date of his or her choosing, buying the stock for the price it is at when the options are offered. This can be very valuable, and this asset may need to be split during a divorce just like anything else. For example, the shares may be worth $10 each when the option is offered. Ten years later, if the company is doing well, the shares may be worth $20 each. The employee can then buy these $20 shares for $10 each, instantly doubling his or her money. This eliminates the risk to the employee, as he or she can stand to see the stock lose significant value and still come out ahead overall. The employee also has 10 years of data to predict what the stock will do. If you’re heading toward divorce in Massachusetts, do not forget to consider stock options. Find out if your spouse has any and what value they may hold. Find out if stock has already been bought or if the right to buy simply exists. Above all else, make sure you know

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Court rules man can opt not to pay ex-wife $1.4 million

An heir to the Educor Inc. fortune will receive millions from a trust, and a court recently ruled that he does not have to pay his ex-wife out of that money. The money comes from a trust that the man’s father set up, which contains around $24 million total. The man also works for an Educor subsidiary as an assistant bookstore manager, and he brings in $170,000 per year. On top of that, the man’s brother paid him about $800,000 out of the trust. The brother is in charge of distributing the money. The man’s ex-wife, on the other hand, has been part of the Army Reserves and worked as a part-time ultrasound technician, making $22,672. She quit her post with the military just two years before she would have been eligible for a pension. Reports indicate that she did it to take care of her daughter, at the insistence of the family. Her daughter has Down syndrome. An appeals court had previously ruled that the man needed to turn over about 60 percent of the money from the fund, along with some interest, saying that it was part of the “fabric of the marriage.” The total he was meant to pay was $1.4 million. However, the Supreme Judicial Court recently decided that he should not have to pay since he was not the one in control of the fund, and there was technically the chance that he may not get payments in the future. The man’s lawyer agreed with

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