Division of Assets

Investing the proceeds from property division

Once the dust settles and the papers are all signed, many newly divorced individuals find that they have a new set of decisions to make. Among these is what to do with the proceeds gained from the property division process. For Massachusetts resident who are emerging from divorce, it may be tempting to put off making additional decision, especially if the divorce was contentious or lengthy. However, letting one’s divorce proceeds simply sit in the bank is never the most financially savvy option. The money that comes as a result of divorce is best put to use in building financial security for one’s future. Whether that means establishing emergency savings, investing in a retirement plan or purchasing a mix of stocks and other investment vehicles, the choices made at this stage can greatly affect one’s finances in the years to come. In addition, there is a great deal of benefit gained from taking a proactive stance toward one’s finances, especially for parties who were not involved in the financial management aspects of the former marriage. Retirement planning should play a role in how divorce proceeds are allocated. In some cases, divorced spouses who were married for at least 10 years can claim benefits from the Social Security record of their former spouse. This is not, however, a comprehensive retirement plan, and should be considered as a means of supplemental retirement income only. The best method of determining how to invest for retirement is to asses existing finances and then estimate

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Puppy love complicates property division in Massachusetts

Massachusetts couples who are beginning the divorce process are often caught off guard with the sheer volume of details that need to be ironed out. Issues of property division and child custody usually top the list of priorities, but there are many smaller details that must be dealt with as well. Splitting one household into two, and working out which party will retain which assets, can be a very complicated procedure. Many spouses make assumptions about where the family pets will reside following a split. They are often surprised, however, when they learn that the other spouse holds opposing opinions on the matter. When couples cannot agree about where the pets will live, they often ask a judge to decide. Many states treat pets as marital property, and some judges will refuse to become involved in decisions over where they will live following the divorce. Others may address the issue, working out a detailed ‘custody’ arrangement that splits time with the pets between the two spouses. However, it is important to understand that no judge can make a truly comprehensive determination about what is in the best interests of a pet, simply because the judge is not familiar with the animal or its relationship with the parties. As with most property division issues surrounding a Massachusetts divorce, the best resolution is one in which the parties work together to find a solution that works best for them. It is important to try and keep the pet’s best interests at the

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Drawn-out, contentious high net-worth divorce finally settled

A high net-worth divorce case can be one of the most complicated cases for Massachusetts couples. In some cases, there are things which a partner is willing to part with easily. However, when the assets to be divided are substantial, as is the case for one couple, a high net-worth divorce case can quickly become more complicated and can take more time to determine the particulars. The couple was married for 15 years before deciding to split. After filing a divorce petition in October 2007, they began to confront the division of their assets they accrued over their marriage. In total, they had an estimated $71 million in assets. At first, it seemed as if separation, though not an easy task, would be relatively straight-forward. However, as the couple continued negotiating, they encountered certain problems. For instance, several allegations surfaced that the wife allegedly had an affair and purportedly was involved in illegal investigations. However, these and other issues were apparently resolved in a settlement, and it is said that the divorce will finally move forward. By April 2012, they had successfully split $46 million, or 70 percent of their assets and are currently discussing lingering money disputes. High net-worth divorce cases can be emotionally draining and understandably expensive for any couple, whether in Massachusetts or elsewhere. For those involved, an attempt to openly communicate with one another may pay dividends by reaching a reasonable settlement of all outstanding issues. In this way, even though the decision may be difficult

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Finding fault in divorce — go “where no one has gone before”

There is a reason why Americans choose to make the concept of a no-fault divorce part of their culture. While some might argue that no-fault divorces make it too easy to dissolve a marriage, it eliminates the process of assigning blame to one party which often results in long drawn-out proceedings with only bitter feelings tied in. For Salem residents, a high net-worth divorce can lead to a complex division of property. While the state of Massachusetts is no fault divorce state, it is also an equitable distribution state; meaning that a judge will decide what a fair distribution of property is — not necessarily a 50/50 split. Interestingly, the people of Great Britain are starting to see the benefits of no-fault divorces, as well. The Brits voted down the idea of a no-fault divorce back in 1996, but, over a decade later, many British residents are starting to rethink their stance on the issue. This likely is because of the petty arguments that have arisen during divorce proceedings, all in an effort to assign blame. Across the pond, in an effort to illustrate the extremes couples go to in order to put an end to their marriage, one woman complained that her husband requested that she dress up like a Klingon — a character depicted in the television show “Star Trek”. He also requested that she speak to him in the Klingon language. Yet another man argued that his wife purposely served him tuna casserole on a frequent basis

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Residency requirements open doors for same-sex divorces

A complex legal issue that is popping up in different states and continues to be addressed in the courts was discussed here previously on the blog. We have news about another new important case involving same-sex marriage and divorce laws. A Rhode Island man is in the midst of trying to divorce his husband after getting married in Massachusetts. Because of Rhode Island’s current laws pertaining to same-sex marriage and divorce, he was forced to move to another state to pursue a divorce. The man decided to move across the state line to Massachusetts and live there for a year before he would be able to file for divorce. However, there is new legislation pending in Rhode Island, according to a local media report that would simplify this matter for people with the same situation. If the new Rhode Island bill passes, any couple could file for a divorce in Rhode Island even if their marriage is not recognized as legal in the state. This would solve the problem faced by same-sex couples who jump state lines in order to establish residency so they can pursue a divorce and not be trapped in marital limbo. Although Rhode Island is not a gay marriage state, it did pass a civil union law in 2011. That piece of legislation provided a legal means for dissolution of a civil union. Whether a person is dissolving a civil union or seeking a divorce from a spouse, he or she will need to ensure that,

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Divorced man stuck with Madoff-scheme losses

Divorced couples in Massachusetts may believe their final court order settles everything. At the end of the dissolution process the court attempts to ensure that there has been an equitable distribution of assets. However, the court order is not always the end of the line for divorced spouses. A divorced spouse may hire an attorney and bring a matter before an appeals court when something changes in the case. An ex-spouse might believe there is a substantial change in information about assets that were divided and hire a lawyer to take a new action, such as seeking relief from an appeals court. Such was the case in a New York appeals court. A recent media report summarized how a panel of six judges for the New York Court of Appeals ruled in a divorced man’s high asset divorce case. He argued that he and his wife both made a mistake in believing their $5.4 million investment in a Bernard Madoff fund was valid. A panel of six judges discarded the man’s claim that his ex-wife should return $2.7 million she had gotten in “an equitable distribution of property” in their divorce. The man, an attorney, must now live with the financial losses that his Madoff investment incurred. The fund went bankrupt only two years after the couple’s divorce was finalized. The judges decided that the divorced man could have made the decision to cash in his investment in the Ponzi scheme before the financial troubles in 2008. Also, his ex-wife

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Could a postnuptial agreement actually save your marriage?

One important tool that is often forgotten about when it comes to family law is the postnuptial agreement. This week, the Huffington Post featured an interesting article explaining how a postnuptial agreement can actually help many couples whose marriages are on the rocks. Postnuptial agreements are like prenuptial agreements in that they are both contracts that spell out what would happen in the case of a divorce, only postnuptial agreements are entered into after the couple has been married and prenuptial agreements are entered into before the marriage. The article gave the scenario of a couple who had been fighting over financial issues and was hastily considering a divorce. The wife, worried and anxious about where a divorce would leave her, went to a local family law attorney for advice. The attorney told the woman that divorce was not the couple’s only option and that there were alternatives available like filing for legal separation or executing a postnuptial agreement. The woman talked to her husband and soon they agreed that a postnuptial agreement was right for them. She said the agreement they reached gave them both peace of mind knowing exactly what would occur should they choose to split, and also helped them to address the disagreements regarding finances that they were having. Many people overlook postnuptial agreements as an effective tool in a family law attorney’s toolbox. Not only do they allow the couple to plan for divorce before the emotions rise, they are also a way to potentially

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Marital property still not settled by pre or postnuptial agreements

Marital property division is, of course, a significant part of any divorce. Wealthy people, such as former Massachusetts resident Frank McCourt, often use prenuptial and postnuptial agreements to define how certain marital property will be divided in the event the phrase “’til death do us part” takes on a different meaning. McCourt is the embattled owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who is also in the midst of a contentious and high profile divorce from his wife of many years. He and his wife previously executed a postnuptial agreement that was prepared by a Boston law firm. A postnuptial agreement is a contract entered into by a couple after they have already been married. Its intent is normally to agree on a division of assets in the event of a subsequent separation or divorce. The McCourt’s executed such an agreement, but it came under fire in the divorce litigation currently pending. Pre and postnuptial agreements are legally binding documents that may well help couples resolve issues that often come up during the division of assets. Not every couple entering into marriage needs a prenuptial agreement, but it is generally helpful for couples who both have acquired assets prior to marriage, if either soon-to-be spouse has children they want to retain their inheritance, or if one spouse has a greater income than the other. A consultation with an attorney can help in determining your pre and post marital needs. In Massachusetts, an attorney with experience in resolving disputes over complex property

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