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Worcester Family Law Blog

Keep property division goals realistic

Regardless of how long a couple was married before filing for divorce, there is one thing they will all have to deal with -- dividing up the marital property. This is true whether a Massachusetts couple said "I do" two years ago or 20. Although property division might seem straightforward, many people soon realize just how complicated the matter can be.

People often assume that they will maintain their current lifestyle regardless of their marital status. However, going into property division with this attitude is shortsighted. Whether a marriage was dual-income or relied heavily on financial support from one person, it is understandable that things will change. This shift in finances will impact which assets individuals should realistically keep, which they should let go to their exes and which should be sold.

More couples want to handle dog ownership like child custody

It is not uncommon for Massachusetts parents to disagree over how to split custody of their children. Some divorces even drag out for longer than necessary while parents try to sort out the best possible child custody agreement. Now though, "pet parents" are starting to go through the same thing.

For many pet owners -- particularly those who do not have children -- beloved animals are increasingly seen as valued members of the family. Unfortunately, that is not how family law views pets. Owners are often shocked to discover that their pets are seen as little more than property. Some are even ordered to sell their animals and then split the money with their exes. For most people, though, this feels unacceptable.

Do men always pay spousal support? Experts say not anymore

The idea of a family in which a father works and a mother stays home to raise children seems to be quickly becoming a thing of the past. Many Massachusetts households have two primary earners, with women's earnings sometimes outpacing their husbands. In these situations, the traditional idea of spousal support is often reversed.

Current divorce rates for first time marriages hover somewhere between 40 and 50 percent, and the rate is even higher for people on their second, third or fourth marriage. Although not every divorce involves spousal support, many of them do, and historically men have been footing the bill. Now, 45 percent of members responding to a survey of the American Academy of Matrimonial lawyers say they are seeing more and more women paying support to their ex-husbands.

Property division ended on a sour note for Frances Bean Cobain

Splitting up property during a divorce can be an emotionally charged ordeal. Many physical items hold significance for their owners, and letting go of a treasured possession may make an already difficult process more cumbersome. Addressing property division in a prenuptial agreement is a smart choice for most Massachusetts couples. Otherwise, they might find themselves in a difficult position, like the one that Frances Bean Cobain recently handled.

Frances is the child of Courtney Love and the late Kurt Cobain. Frances was previously married to Isaiah Silva, a musician in the band, The Eeries. The couple originally filed for divorce back in 2016, and soon after entered into a heated debate over the ownership of one of Kurt's guitars. Kurt famously played the 1959 Martin D-18E guitar during a performance with his band, Nirvana, on MTV.

Delayed Injury: Why You Still Can Seek Damages.

You just got in a car accident. You could have been rear-ended or the other driver went thru a red light and hit you. After the initial shock, you may experience immediate pain from a broken bone, or felt the impact from your face striking the airbag that just deployed. Sometimes, however, it may not be so obvious that you sustained a serious injury. You may have declined an ambulance or medical attention at the scene of the crash. Days or even weeks later symptoms may develop and worsen. You could have sustained serious internal injuries that were initially ignored or brushed off as minor. It's a familiar scenario, but it does not mean you cannot seek compensation for your personal injuries.

Social media may play a role in your divorce, are you prepared?

Prenuptial agreements are nothing new, but ever-evolving technology seems to be changing how Massachusetts couples use these important documents. This may be especially true for younger couples who are more adept at engaging in online activities, particularly social media. Most people can minimize any potential distress caused by social media during a divorce by addressing its usage prior to saying "I do."

What happens when a disgruntled ex shares otherwise private information on Twitter, or posts an unsettling picture to Instagram? These popular social media websites can reach an untold number of people, and for people whose employment rely on their personal reputation, this can be a disaster. This is just on example of the very real concerns that many couples have when going into a marriage.

Property division does not have to be painful

Divorce is a complex undertaking, and many couples find they are not prepared for the challenges involved in obtaining a fair settlement. When it comes to property division, Massachusetts law is based on an equitable division of property. Reaching an equitable division is not always easy, but experts offer some advice on how to go through the process with grace and dignity.

Despite the history between the spouses, honesty during property division is important for both parties to obtain a fair settlement. Hiding assets or secretly stashing money away may seem like a natural thing to do, but this can lead to serious legal ramifications. Attorneys make it a priority to seek out all assets that may be fair game during property division, and courts may penalize a spouse who tries to keep any joint assets off the table unlawfully.

Making the difficult decision to file for divorce

For many couples in Massachusetts, the decision to end the marriage can be torturous. It may be difficult to discern if the troubles they are going through are simply a rough patch or signals that the marriage has run its course. They may spend months or years in an unhappy marriage because they are afraid that filing for divorce would be a mistake. While there is no magic formula to help someone decide to stay put or move on to a new life, there are some factors to consider that may tip the scale one way or another.

Why are you staying? This is a question that may generate some thoughtful answers. Some spouses remain in an unhappy marriage because they have a lot invested, such as children or a joint business venture. Others may feel it is too late to start over and find happiness outside the marriage. Still more may wonder if it is even financially feasible to divorce.

Can I expect to collect alimony?

If you are financially dependent on your spouse during your marriage, you could be especially nervous about what a divorce will mean for you and your financial future.

One thing you might be particularly interested in is alimony, which is financial support that one spouse may be required to pay to another spouse during the pendency of a divorce and/or thereafter thru a Judgment of Divorce. However, before you assume you will or will not collect alimony, you should understand the factors that affect whether and why people receive this type of support. First and foremost, alimony is based on the financial need of the recipient spouse and the financial ability of the paying spouse.

Man accused of disappearing to evade child support enforcement

When children are involved in a divorce, paternity or other custody matter, the amount and payment of child support to the custodial parent must almost always be addressed by the Court. However, though an agreement may be made, sometimes payment obligations are not met. Unemployment, injury or sickness can play a major factor in one's finances, and may be valid reasons affecting one's ability to make child support payments and comply with the Court ordered obligations. On the other hand, there are some cases when the noncustodial parent simply is negligent or avoids making payments. If needed, enforcement of a Massachusetts court-ordered child support obligation may involve filing an enforcement action such as a Complaint for Contempt and perhaps attempts to garnish the non-paying parent's wages.

Recently, a man went missing in the southeastern U.S. after reportedly owing about $500,000 in child support. The 52-year-old father was last seen late March 2018 on his blue paddleboard. One of the last recorded sightings was on surveillance video of the man heading to the Atlantic Ocean early in the morning.

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