Be proactive to protect your wealth during a divorce

Natick residents who have gone through dissolution know that during the process of terminating a marriage, the end cannot possibly come soon enough. While courts rarely let couples “rush” the process of ending their unions, some individuals wind up glossing over divorce-related details in an effort to finalize their divorces sooner rather than later. When divorce details are not given sufficient attention, the parties of the divorce can find themselves paying the price literally and figuratively later on.

For example, while in many divorces the parties take painstaking efforts to ensure that their children’s custody and support needs are addressed, they sometimes generalize their plans regarding the division of their wealth. Even if a couple is not experiencing a high asset divorce, it is important that they take the time to do its property settlement right. Part of preparing a sound property settlement agreement involves knowing exactly what property is subject to division.

An alarming number of individuals do not know the extent of their marital wealth or their spouses’ financial holdings. Living in the dark about money matters can make it difficult for a newly divorced individual to find his or her own financial footing.

It can also be difficult for divorcees when they fail to stipulate money specifics in their property agreements. Couples who assume that they understand each other and fail to codify important elements of their wealth settlement plans can be caught off-guard when their exes do not honor understandings they thought they had.

Having all of a couple’s financial information out in the open can make creating a property settlement agreement easier on everyone. Although some couples struggle to work together to make cogent plans, using financial and legal professionals during the process can improve their chances of finding common ground on money-related issues.

Individuals who are going through divorces can work with attorneys who understand the importance of being proactive during property settlement negotiations to protect their financial health in their post-divorce lives.

Source: thefiscaltimes.com, “Divorce: 3 Mistakes That Will Crush Your Financial Future,” Kathryn Tuggle, May 28, 2015

Church’s rules on annulment will not impact Massachusetts law

A Massachusetts divorce ends the legal relationship between two married people. From a family court’s standpoint, those two newly single individuals can remarry whomever they choose as soon as their prior marriage’s divorce is finalized. However, individuals who practice certain religions can face some additional hurdles to remarrying in their chosen churches if they have prior divorces in their personal histories.

For this reason some people choose to pursue annulments instead of divorces. An annulment not only ends a legal relationship between two people but also effectively erases that marriage from existence. It is important to note, however, that a legal annulment is different than a religious annulment.

For example, the Roman Catholic Church requires that a previously married person secure a religious annulment before he or she may remarry in the church. In the past this was a rather long and arduous process that could take years to complete. The head of the church, Pope Francis, recently announced that soon Catholics who hope to remarry in the church can seek annulments in a more streamlined fashion.

Family law professionals who practice in Massachusetts have noted that the Pope’s newannulment process will have no bearing on Massachusetts’s laws for legal annulments. In Massachusetts, couples must prove that a marriage was flawed from its inception in order to secure an annulment instead of a divorce. Flaws that could support legal annulments include but are not limited to situations where one person was forced or coerced to marry the other or where one of the parties was underage at the time of the marriage.

When Massachusetts couples choose to end their marriages they have options for which legal processes they want to pursue. Divorce is a common way to end a marriage, but annulment is also possible. Individuals who pursue annulment should recognize that legal and religious annulments are different and serve different purposes for those who desire to remarry.

Source: bostonherald.com, “Full Court Press: Legal annulment poses a challenge,” Bob McGovern, Sept. 9, 2015

How does a parenting plan work in terms of child custody?

When Massachusetts parents decide to end their marriages they often must make difficult decisions about what to do with their children. Family law courts throughout the state will guide or even dictate to parents, depending upon their situations, the child custody arrangements that they must follow. Child custody plans can result in one parent having sole custody over his children or with the parents sharing custody in joint arrangements.

Since divorce results in a single household becoming two separate locations, parents who live apart can no longer consult each other regarding all matters concerning their kids. From big decisions about schooling to less monumental decisions about bedtimes and nap schedules, parents can find it difficult to get on the same page as their ex-spouses once they no longer live together. A parenting plan can help exes establish common ground regarding decisions relevant to their shared kids.

The Massachusetts Probate and Family Courts have published an informal document regarding how to create an effective parenting plan. The suggestions contained therein guide parents through the developmental stages of their kids’ lives and provide direction toward what types of matters parents should discuss. For example, parents of 6-year-olds to 9-year-olds should find ways to communicate about changes in their kids’ peers, behaviors and extracurricular interests to ensure that they do not miss warning signs of problems afflicting their offspring.

A parenting plan is simply a way for parents to effectively communicate about their children after their marriages have ended. They can be important tools for keeping the peace after acrimonious divorces and can help children adjust to living in split households and as dictated by their child custody determinations. While the information contained in this post should not be read as specific legal advice it may introduce Massachusetts parents to a tool available for addressing post-divorce parenting quarrels.

Divorce can bring financial concerns to the newly single

Some Massachusetts couples share in the decision-making in all aspects of their relationships. They discuss what they will purchase, how they will invest their money, and if they will make expenditures that could deplete their savings. For other couples, however, financial decision-making power is placed on one partner. That partner handles all of the major buying and investing decisions for the couple, and the one defers his or her opinions to the choices of the other.

When couples that fall into the latter camp choose to divorce, though, partners who have not been privy to financial decision-making can find themselves at a disadvantage. They may be inexperienced with budgeting and other important financial planning skills. Once they are divorced and living on their own, they may be poorly equipped to deal with the money matters that their former spouses once handled for them.

A financial planner offered some advice for newly divorced individuals who are not confident in their financial management skills. He suggests that such individuals make priorities about what they want to achieve with their money and plans for how to achieve those goals. He further suggests that newly single individuals live within their means and take responsible risks with their money to help it safely grow.

The end of a marriage can bring many financial concerns to a person who has not been responsible for managing money during the tenure of his or her marital union. However, a divorcecan leave a person with the opportunity for a fresh financial start. Though financial planners can help newly divorced individuals set themselves up for success after their marriages end, divorce attorneys can also help their clients understand the property and financial settlements they will receive through their divorces and how those settlements may be used as the bases for their new single lives.

Source: Time, “10 Steps to Financial Recovery After a Divorce,” Joe O’Boyle, Oct. 14, 2015

Is shared parenting time good for kids affected by divorce?

In certain situations a Massachusetts family law court may rule that a child should be in the sole custody of only one of his parents. This may occur due to problems that child would face in the household of the other parent. If the noncustodial parent is incarcerated, has a drug or alcohol problem, or has exhibited abusive behavior toward the child or others the court may place the child outside of that parent’s control. Every child custody case is assessed on a case by case basis, and when two people go through a divorce the court will also consider the best interests of their kids when making a custody determination.

According to some studies, however, parents and kids generally do better after divorce when the parents share time with their kids. Two different concepts of shared parenting should be differentiated: Shared parenting implies the children spend time with both parents in potentially unequal distributions while equal parenting implies that two parents each get the same amount of time with their kids.

Separation from one parent through either sole custody or shared custody but with an unequal distribution of time can cause anxiety, stress and other negative feelings in a child. Additionally, some parents who hold all or most custodial responsibilities feel overwhelmed by their duties when they cannot share them proportionally with their children’s other parent. As it stands, many parents and kids function the best after a divorce when they work out equal parenting time arrangements for their child custody plans.

No two divorces are alike and for this reason divorcing couples should not assume that they will be granted equal parenting and custody time of their kids during their divorce proceedings. Many factors, including the best interests of the children, will be considered by the family law courts hearing their matters. However, with the help of their legal representatives some parents may choose to advocate for equal parenting time with their soon-to-be exes in order to serve their children’s and their interests.

Money is often an issue that leads couples to divorce

Financial instability can be incredibly stressful on a family. All across Massachusetts there are individuals struggling to keep their heads above the threatening waters of insolvency, foreclosure and even bankruptcy. Some couples are able to weather financial challenges together and emerge stronger than before they faced their money problems. Others find that economic hardships exacerbate their problems and push them closer toward divorce.

Interestingly enough, the reverse financial situation can also lead some to pursue the ends of their marriages. In some cases, couples may wait until later in their marriages to start divorce proceedings because it gives them time to get their financial affairs in order. With no kids in their households to care for and sufficient savings and investments to provide for them into their later lives, divorce is sometimes pursued by those who have attained solid financial stability.

Also known as gray divorce, later-in-life divorces are on the rise. Married people can find themselves facing the final decades of their lives and recognizing that they did not accomplish all of the goals they had set out for themselves. They may perceive their spouses and the future care that they may have to provide to those spouses as hurdles to overcome in attaining happiness toward the ends of their lives.

Having enough money in one’s personal coffers can provide the incentive a person needs to finally end a marriage. Conversely, battling with a spouse about financial struggles can also lead individuals to consider divorce. Money plays a big role in the end of a marriage and how a couple structures its wealth can influence matters such as property division settlements and alimony. Attorneys who practice family law can provide their clients with information on preparing for divorce, regardless of the financial circumstances of those they represent.

Source: philly.com, “Financial security pushes couples to divorce court,” Erin E. Arvedlund, Aug. 9, 2015

Divorce must be filed in a particular family court

Massachusetts has a number of probate and family law courts scattered throughout its borders. This is because its residents live in large and small communities all throughout the state. In fact, each county in the state has its own probate and family court. Having multiple courts allows individuals to have their legal matters heard in a timely matter, though it can also create confusion for some who may not know where to have their legal matters heard.

When it comes to divorce, there are a few rules that a person must follow with regard to where he may file his paperwork. Most simply, if a person and his or her spouse live in the same county, then that person can just file the paperwork in that court. If they do not live in the same county, then the individual has a choice.

When spouses no longer live in the same Massachusetts county the individual filing the divorce paperwork may choose to file in his or her county of residence. The individual may also choose to file in his or her spouse’s county of residence; deciding where to file divorce paperwork may be a challenge for some and those who have questions about how to handle this step in procuring a divorce may choose to consult with their personal legal counsel.

Knowing where to file one’s paperwork for divorce is just one of the legal hurdles a person may face on the road to the end of a marriage. Many other divorce legal issues can complicate the process of terminating the legal relationship between a husband and a wife. People with questions about this and the other technical requirements of divorce may find answers from trusted legal sources.

Do you know what is at stake in your divorce?

Marriages are partnerships, and like other forms of partnerships, the partners to a marriage often divide between themselves the responsibilities that need to be completed. In some Massachusetts marriages, one of the partners handles household tasks while the other handles financial obligations. While these divisions can provide some balance to the load of work forced upon many couples, they also often leave some spouses in the dark when it comes to the money matters of their marriages.

For example, when one spouse handles all of the bills, budgets and investments for the pair, the other may be unaware of how their money is being spent and where it is being held. If a divorce were to occur, the money-controlling spouse could be at an advantage to better understand the financial picture of the couple’s life. This advantage could unfairly benefit that spouse during the property division process at the end of the couple’s relationship.

While litigated divorces are designed to give individuals opportunities to secure records and information through the discovery process, uncooperative spouses are sometimes motivated to hold back on sharing all of the financial data they have in order to enrich themselves in the divorce process.

A spouse could sometimes find themselves in less than stable financial positions when their partner fails to disclose or under-disclose all of the couple’s assets. When a person is unsure of where marital money is located and how it is controlled, he or she can find himself lost during the couple’s asset division negotiations.

A zealous advocate can be an asset to someone who does not have all of the information that he needs to bring about the end of a marriage. Attorney Kevin Walters of the Walters Law Offices supports his clients through the entirety of their divorces and has worked hard to obtain the financial materials required for past clients to obtain a fair property division determination. To learn more, check out our divorce website. Although no property settlement or resolution can ever be promised, strong advocacy and the careful collection of information can help a person prepare to get a fair financial outcome during dissolution.

When can I stop paying alimony to my former spouse?

Spousal support is the award of financial support from one individual to another following the divorce of the involved parties. In Massachusetts, the duration of how long one party must pay and how long the other will receive alimony depends on a number of factors. While some events can simply terminate monthly alimony payments, in other cases, alimony length is based on the number of years that the former couple was married.

According to the General Laws of Massachusetts, remarriage can end an alimony obligation. If the alimony-receiving spouse remarries after the divorce, the money he or she received from the former spouse can be cut off. When a paying spouse remarries, however, his or her alimony obligation is generally unaffected.

Death can also terminate an alimony obligation. If the receiving spouse dies, alimony ends because there is no one who is owed through survivorship. If the paying spouse dies, the obligation generally does not transfer to another party.

When neither death nor remarriage cuts off alimony, a court will stipulate how long the alimony should last based upon how long the preceding marriage survived. Generally, shorter marriages result in alimony scheduled for shorter durations. Marriages that last more than ten years can result in alimony schedules that endure for longer periods of time. Massachusetts’s courts can even award indefinite alimony when the couple subject to the order was married for more than two decades.

The alimony schedule that a court sets is based on many factors and is unique to the couple it applies to. The above information has been provided as general information and should not be treated as advice. Divorcing or divorced couples dealing with alimony issues or other divorce legal problems should learn more about their options. Obtain legal guidance could help protect the rights and interests of both parties.

After a divorce, should I get a prenup for my second marriage?

It is a tragic situation when a married person suffers the death of a spouse due to illness or accident. However, it is also a common scenario for Massachusetts residents that divorce separates two people who legally bound themselves together. Whether a marriage ends from death or divorce, a previously married individual may find herself later considering marriage for a second time.

Even though a divorce or death terminates a prior marriage, there can be many factors from that first marriage that carry over into a second marriage. Primarily, any children born of a first marriage may have inheritance rights from their parents. A second marriage may pre-empt children from inheriting from a parent if a second spouse gets ahead of them in the line of succession prior to the death of the parent.

Additionally, a person contemplating a second marriage – or their soon-to-be spouse – may carry a significant amount of debt. Just as some property is considered marital property, so too can some debt be considered marital debt. The debts and liabilities of one person’s former relationship can affect the financial health of a person when he enters into a second marriage.

Because these financial matters are so important, some people who choose to marry for a second time decide to execute prenuptial agreements. Even if they did not have prenups for their first marriages, they elect to use them the second time around in order to protect their interests, their children’s interests, and their wealth accrued from prior relationships. A prenuptial agreement, through its contractual formatting, allows a couple to make important decisions about their finances before they are married in order to preserve their rights after their unions are confirmed.

The end of a marriage can be a tragic time, but many people whose marriages end endeavor to start over in new marital relationships. The death or divorce legal issues that follow a person into his new life can be addressed through prenuptial agreements. Individuals with lingering questions about second marriage prenups may choose to speak with their legal representatives about the utility of such agreements for their lives.

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