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divorce

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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When mediation may be your best option in divorce

Divorce, while never easy, does not have to be an ordeal. For couples who wish to amicably end their marriages, there are a number of processes available that do not involve a combative mindset and are designed to minimize conflict in favor of compromise. One of the most common processes that aim for a more cooperative dissolution of a marriage is mediation. Mediation is the non-adversarial divorce process most familiar to the general public. In mediation, a couple meets with a third party to discuss the division of assets, custody issues, alimony, and any and all other issues that need to be settled in the course of a divorce. With an agreement in place, the couple files for divorce in the courts. How, then, does a couple choose the best course when seeking to end their marriage without going through a lengthy and costly bout of litigation? While every couple and family’s situation is unique, if your working relationship with your spouse is professional and your separation truly is amicable, mediation may be the best option for you. Mediation has many factors in its favor. With the couple using one mediator, together, it is possible for them to split the costs. Along with a generally lower hourly rate, mediation offers couples more control over the scheduling of sessions and the total time frame of the process than litigation in the courts. Mediation is intended to reduce conflict by encouraging the calm and constructive expression of needs and wants. It is

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Small Business Subject to Division of Assets in Divorce

Representing husband.  Long term marriage.  Husband was a state employee. Wife owned and operated a successful family business which was a marital asset, subject to division.  Parties each engaged valuation experts for purposes of determining income and value of wife’s business. Extensive discovery conducted.  Valuation and income assessment, including determination of various perquisites received by wife, resulted in favorable settlement for husband, in lieu of trial.

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Complaint for Modification

Representing husband.  Defending against former wife’s Complaint for Modification, seeking sole legal custody and supervised restricted parenting for former husband.  The parties had minor children.  The court appointed a guardian ad litem with authority to make recommendations to the court regarding the care and custody of the minor children.   The matter went to trial which lasted 8 days.  The guardian ad litem (GAL) was strongly in favor of the wife’s position.  Father’s parenting time was severely restricted during the pendency of the action.  Extensive cross examination of the GAL, resulting in severely diminished credibility.  At the conclusion of the trial Father’s parenting time and legal custody were restored to pre modification status.

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Don’t Be Blindsided By The Division of Marital Property in Your Divorce

Many people fail to realize divorce requires more than simply signing a few documents. If you’re divorcing in Massachusetts, don’t be blindsided by the many decisions you’re about to face regarding the division of your marital property. Not all property is valued or taxed in the same way; therefore, the process can be long and confusing without the help of a knowledgeable attorney at your side. It’s important to consider that even though different financial accounts are valued at the same amount, the account owner may receive different withdraw amounts. This is because withdrawals will not be taxed in the same way from a money market, for example, as other accounts would be. The division of retirement accounts can be particularly daunting. There are currently no tax codes or other regulations in place regarding IRA accounts. This has allowed courts to permit IRAs to be divided between divorcing couples. Regarding real estate property, if one spouse is granted full control of the marital home, for example, or vacation properties, then he or she is usually expected to pay taxes on those properties as well. Debt is another matter you will need to be well-informed about when dividing property. No matter who is awarded the property, debt owed is still the responsibility of both parties, if the property was jointly owned. This means in the event the awarded party cannot fulfill payment obligations, the bank or other entity holding the debt will expect the second named party to fulfill payment obligations.

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What is the difference between a fault and no-fault divorce?

In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the grounds for divorce depends on whether you decide on a no-fault or fault divorce. A no-fault divorce does not require parties to prove blame for the breakdown of the marriage. Either or both parties can file to begin the process for a no-fault divorce merely pleading that the marriage is beyond repair, and it is time to move on. The ground for this action is “irretrievable breakdown of marriage”. A fault divorce is more involved. In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, you have the option of filing for divorce and claiming one person is to blame for the failure of the marriage. Common grounds for a fault divorce include cruelty and abuse, desertion for one year or more, adultery, impotence, excessive use of drugs or alcohol, failure to provide support or maintenance, and sentences of five years or more in a penal institution. Proving a fault divorce can be difficult. It is recommended the accusing party have solid proof of any fault grounds. Make sure to consult with a knowledgeable attorney before taking any divorce action to understand your options. Contact our office to have your questions answered today.

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Protecting Assets in a Divorce

Divorce is as much a financial blow as it is an emotional one. Alimony and child support may take a large, even unreasonable amount out of your monthly paycheck. Conversely, if your income is much smaller than your soon-to-be-ex-spouse’s, or if you stayed at home to look after the family, you might find yourself in dire financial straits if you are not awarded a just settlement. You deserve a divorce settlement that takes into account your circumstances and your contributions to the marriage— and financial, logistical, or emotional. In this article, you will find three steps to follow to protect your assets in divorce and reach the settlement that is best for you. I. Be Open and Honest—and Savvy On your end, it is important not to hide any of your assets. Hiding your assets, or even appearing to hide your assets, may be used against you in court by your spouse and his or her counsel. In fact, most people’s attempts to hide their assets—by spending large amounts of cash—fail to improve their divorce outcomes. This is for two reasons. First, because Massachusetts family courts take into account income (earnings) rather than expenditure (spending). Second, because assets are defined as more than cash, excessive spending fails to protect non-liquid holdings like stocks, bonds, and even intellectual property. To understand the full scope of your assets, it is worth investing in professional help to you value and locate them. This way you can have the knowledge you need to II.

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I was married and last lived in Massachusetts with my spouse but do not live in Massachusetts now, can I get divorced in Massachusetts?

While marriage laws are based on where the parties are at the time of marriage, divorce is based on where the parties live at the time of divorce. The answer to this question depends on how long you’ve resided outside of Massachusetts. While most states require you to be a resident before you may file divorce papers, the required length of residency varies per state. In most cases, it’s at least a minimum of six months. To file for divorce in the state of Massachusetts, one of the following must apply: You, or your estranged spouse, have lived in the state for a year, OR You lived with your spouse as a married couple in Massachusetts when your “grounds” for divorce happened. You should be aware that whatever court handles the initial divorce settlement has jurisdiction over all other residual issues such as child custody, child support, and any amendments to these arrangements. Because divorce laws can vary dramatically between the states, it is important to understand how residing in different locations may impact your right to marital property, child custody, alimony payments, and child support payments. Make sure to consult with a knowledgeable attorney before taking any action to avoid any filing issues. Contact our office to have your questions answered today.

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