Divorce

Can my 14-year-old decide to live with my ex?

As a divorcing parent battling over custody, there is always the fear that your child will decide they would rather live with the other parent. Even once custody has been determined, parents worry as children get older, they will want to move in with the other parent. Rest assured that minor children can’t make legal decisions, such as where they want to live. It is a common misconception that once a child reaches a certain age, they can decide which parent to live with. In truth, those responsible for determining custody are the parents or a judge if the parents can’t agree. Any child under the age of 18 does not have the final say in where they will live. While a judge may consider an older child’s wishes, a child’s opinion is only one factor. Ultimately a judge will be guided by what is in the best interest of the children involved. Some factors considered may include: each parent’s preference each parent’s ability to provide the child with food, clothing, and a safe home the health and mental wellness of each parent and the child adverse effects a child’s present or past living conditions may have had on the child’s physical, mental, moral, or emotional health When determining custody, neither parent begins with any greater right to custody than the other. The final decision is guided by the children’s welfare and happiness. Minor children cannot override an agreement made between parents or by a judge.

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Get a Grip on Legal Jargon: Divorce Terms Explained

When facing divorce, you may find yourself overwhelmed with the legal jargon used throughout the process. Add this frustration to the mounting stress and heightened emotion, and you may be left making poor decisions. While our firm is here to help guide you through the process and answer any questions you have, this guide can help clarify some of the legal jargon you may encounter. Types of Divorce Irretrievable Breakdown of the Marriage This cause for divorce stipulates that neither party is at fault and that both spouses agree that their marriage is broken. No-Fault Divorce vs. Fault In Massachusetts, a spouse can seek a “no-fault” divorce or a “fault” divorce. A no-fault divorce is filed when there is an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. This type of divorce is generally a more straightforward process. A fault divorce, on the other hand, can be filed when one party feels the other is to blame for the breakdown of the marriage. Massachusetts law recognizes several reasons for an at-fault divorce, such as adultery, desertion, and cruel and abusive treatment, to name a few. Common Forms Used in Divorce Proceedings Complaint for Divorce The first form filed to begin a civil case through the court is called a complaint. This form indicates the reason for starting a claim, and the person filing is referred to as the plaintiff. Answer Following the filing of a complaint, the other spouse becomes the defendant. The defendant-spouse can file a response to the divorce complaint, which

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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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