Divorce

Out of State Child Support Modification

Child Support and Out-of-State Issues Whether one parent is living just over the Massachusetts border in New Hampshire but still commutes to Boston every day, or whether the one parent is living on the West Coast while the children live with the other on the South Shore, issues of state jurisdiction may come into play when seeking to modify a Massachusetts child support agreement. Changing Circumstances, Modifying Orders In Massachusetts, child support is governed either by temporary orders or by final judgments. Temporary orders govern the terms of child support while there is still open legal action in process to establish a final judgement. The term “final judgment” is something of a misnomer. “Final” does not mean that the judgement can never be altered again. A child support final judgment may be renegotiated in the future. This can be done with the agreement of both parents, or one parent may file a complaint for modification if certain conditions are met. The conditions under which one parent can file a complaint for modification to a child support final judgement include: • Changes to the gross income of either or both parents • Unavailability of previously ordered health coverage, either because of job loss or unduly burdensome cost increases • New availability of health care coverage through a parent • Any other material and substantial change in circumstances What to Do When One Parent Lives in a Different State When one parent lives out of state, modifying and enforcing a child support judgment

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Divorce When Only One Partner Lives in Massachusetts

Many married couples live separately, even across state lines, for reasons which have nothing to do with the health of their marriage. However, when living across state lines from each other, couples may find their marriage at a crossroads and begin considering divorce. Perhaps distance has created serious problem in the relationship or laid bare preexisting problems. Perhaps one partner has moved away, even across state lines, as part of a trial separation. Or perhaps a history of domestic violence and a need for safety has compelled one spouse to put considerable distance between his or her person and the other spouse. As the coronavirus pandemic continues to disrupt life, some people may find themselves stymied by closed courts, recommendations against travel, and derailed moving plans. Many are wondering how to file for divorce in Massachusetts. Whatever the circumstances that have led to divorce, if one member of a couple lives in Massachusetts and the other does not, there are certain requirements that need to be met before filing for divorce. Divorce in Massachusetts: An Overview First, it is helpful to review the types of divorce available in Massachusetts, as these rules can have an impact on whether a spouse is able to file for divorce in Massachusetts. In Massachusetts, divorce may be either uncontested or contested: In an uncontested divorce, both spouses agree to a divorce and work out the terms before filing for divorce. This type of divorce is always no-fault (See below for the discussion of fault)

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How to Land on Your Feet After Divorce

Divorce takes a toll emotionally, physically, and mentally on everyone involved. It’s not uncommon for individuals going through a divorce to want to curl up in bed all day and abandon all responsibilities. As tempting as this sounds, it’s not practical. In fact, doing so can even make things worse. The first step to landing on your feet after divorce is finding acceptance. Just because you’re making the right decision to split up with your partner, doesn’t mean it’s easy, but accepting your post-divorce life means finding new normals. This will look different for everyone. However, there are several steps you can take to make your new normal as seamless as possible. For starters, get clear on the unknowns. You’ll need to answer questions such as where you will live, what your child custody arrangements will look like, and what your financial needs will be. Answering questions to unknowns will help ease anxiety and allow you to gain a new perspective on your future. To answer these unknowns, you’ll need to create a financial plan with a post-divorce budget. If your ex was in charge of handling finances in the past, this might be daunting; however, managing a budget can be empowering. To start, be realistic about your living situation. The basics of creating a budget involve gathering all of your financial statements. Make a list of all sources of income, including alimony and child support. Make a second list of all outgoing expenses starting with the necessities, such as

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If my ex purchased our marital home before we were married, can I request the house as part of my divorce settlement?

In an ideal situation, you’d work with your ex to divide up assets fairly. Unfortunately, that isn’t always possible. Many couples hire attorneys to negotiate divorce terms on their behalf. Some couples even go to court and ask a judge to divide the marital estate. So the simple answer is yes, you can request the marital home as part of your divorce settlement. A property owned by one spouse at the time of the marriage can become considered marital property by the court and be subject to division as part of the marital estate.  The court may consider factors that include both spouses paying the mortgage or other expenses, or contributing toward significant improvements to the property. Divorcing couples may request specific assets during the division of property, but that doesn’t mean their request will be awarded. Massachusetts law requires the division of property in a divorce to be equitable. This means property division must be fair, though not necessarily equal. Massachusetts law allows a judge to divide all property regardless of when it was acquired or which spouse actually owns it. When dividing assets, such as property, a judge will consider the length of the marriage, the present and future needs of any dependent children, each spouse’s income and contribution, and much more. Monetary value will be assigned to the house, along with other assets for a judge to consider. Many couples opt to sell property in order to divide their assets, however, if one spouse wishes to keep the house, they may choose to forfeit other assets

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Prenuptial Agreements: What They Are And Who Needs One

Prenuptial agreements might have a bad reputation from tabloid accounts of celebrity divorces, but these important legal arrangements are for more than the rich and famous. Nor are prenuptial agreements a statement that a couple plans to divorce or otherwise wants an exit strategy. When done right, a prenuptial agreement can help a couple take stock of their assets and set the stage for efficient and open communication about joint finances, thus strengthening the marriage. In essence, a prenuptial agreement enumerates one or both of the partners’ assets and stipulates which of these assets will not become jointly held upon marriage but instead remain individual property. While one of the most common reasons, and the most notorious in pop culture, is to protect an individual’s assets in case of divorce. This is especially important when a couple’s assets are imbalanced; if one partner makes or owns ten times the other’s worth, the assumption of each partner being entitled to half the property at divorce is not fair. Prenuptial agreements, however, have many other uses and can serve the needs of many kinds of people. For instance, a prenuptial agreement can protect one spouse’s assets from the other’s liability. For example, if a woman is a doctor, and her husband owns his own business, they may have a prenuptial agreement as part of an asset protection plan. If the wife is sued for malpractice, her husband’s business is not counted as part of her property, limiting her potential payout amount and

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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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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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Holiday Custody

The winter holidays may be the most wonderful time of the year, but they are also a top contender for the most stressful time of the year. Regardless of family structure, holiday gatherings and visits can be contentious. Under the stress of cleaning and cooking and visiting in-laws, even close-knit nuclear families, amicably divorced co-parents, or happily mixed step-families might experience some tension and conflict around this time of the year. Given the stress of preparing for holidays, and the emotions invested in family celebrations, it is more important than ever for there to be good channels of communication about scheduling. When child custody agreements are involved, communication is even more important, especially if custody arrangements or their enforcement have been contentious issues in the past. Many shared custody agreements drawn up as part of the divorce settlements will specify holiday visitation and custody rights for each parent. For example, one parent may have the children for Thanksgiving and New Year’s, with the other parent having Christmas and the surrounding days. In the next year, the parents might swap time periods, following an alternating schedule laid out in the custody agreement. Changes happen, however. A flight back from a visit to grandma might be delayed by snow. A family wedding might be scheduled for the days after Christmas. A teenager with a mind of her own might want to go to a friend’s cookie-decorating party close to mom’s house an hour away, even though dad has custody for that date.

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