Can you imagine purposefully living with your ex after you’ve separated? It’s not uncommon for couples to live together during the separation process, but cohabitation after the divorce is final has historically been very rare.

Prior to Covid, we can remember only one couple that lived together post divorce. The husband wanted to keep the marital home but he was unable to buy out the Wife’s share of the equity at the time of the divorce; typically, in this type of situation, the home would have typically been listed for sale but the wife graciously agreed to wait until after her 99 year old father in law, who also lived there, passed or was otherwise relocated. *

While this type of situation is still very rare, some couples do consider some form of cohabitation post-divorce. We recently worked on an agreement where the parties alternated use of the marital home depending on who had parenting time. We’ve also created agreements for parents who intend to live together so that they both could be physically present on a daily basis. While we always love the idea of providing a united front to the children and keeping things are “normal” as possible, we haven’t found any research to support whether these situations are actually in the best interest of the children.

If parties are going to even consider cohabitation post-divorce, there need to be some well established ground rules. How long will this arrangement last? What happens if one person decides that they no longer wish to cohabitate or wants to buy out the other? Who is covering each specific household expense? Who will be responsible for household chores? Will one parent be paying child support during the cohabitation period? Will they be able to problem solve and communicate better once divorced? What will happen when one person starts to date?**

There are a multitude of reasons that people consider cohabitation post-divorce, including:
1. The transition from a two income household is not always easily manageable if both parties are not self sufficient (with or without child support or alimony);
2. One party may have credit issues which may effect their ability to buy or rent; OR
3. Suitable housing may be difficult to find, especially if a person is hoping to remain in the same school district or needs an apartment with more than two (2) bedrooms.

While these reasons (and others) are certainly understandable, the traditional options are still the default: either you list the house for sale or one party buys out the other by giving them a portion of the equity in the marital home.

As always, we welcome your thoughts our newsletter or answer any questions!

Regards,
Faye & John



* In this case, waiting actually increased the value of her equity in the home due to the spike in home values during this period.

** Do you remember this scene from The Break Up? Ironically, this is probably the least uncomfortable and complex situation that might occur:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NoXW_FZtCO4

ong, long ago, we were in a graduate school statistics class* as a precursor to beginning a Master’s thesis study. The most important take away from the class was understanding that how you manipulate numbers determines whether your hypothesis is supported or disproven. Whether by median, mode or average, we still love to look at data and determine how to best use it to our client’s advantage. We recently found some some statistics related to divorce** that we thought would be fun to share:

1. The divorce rate has dropped significantly over the years last 10-15 years. While it was previously thought that you had a 50% chance of getting a divorce, the current rate is thought to be around 39%. The reason for the decline could be due to so many things, including millennials getting married later or not at all.
2. Nevada continues to have the highest divorce rate in the United States. Apparently, what happens in Vegas does not stay in Vegas and regret does fit in a suitcase.
3. Massachusetts actually has one of the lower rates of divorce in the United States. It is thought that the divorce rate within the Commonwealth is approximately 2.6%; however, this statistic is slightly skewed because some states, including Georgia, Hawaii and Minnesota do not even report their statistics.
5. The global divorce rate has increased by 252% since the 1960’s. Russia is believed to have the highest divorce rate in the world; it seems reasonable that it will continue to maintain that top spot given the stress related to recent world events.
6. Second (and any thereafter) are more likely to fail than a first marriage. We often ponder if people who are married more than twice are really just hopeless romantics who aspire, but struggle to find ever lasting love.

Every four years, the Massachusetts Probate and Family Courts task force re-evaluates the child support guidelines to determine their effectiveness and what changes need to be made. Last fall, the court launched new guidelines which made the 2018 version extinct. Some of the notable changes can lead to a significant change for both the payor and the payee:1. The minimum order has decreased from $25 per week to between $12-20 per week. While the change may not seem significant, the relatively small difference can be profound for a parent who is already receiving such a minimal amount and trying to feed and clothe a child.2. By contrast, the maximum threshold for combined gross income to be used for calculations has increased from $250,000 to $400,000 per year. Depending on income level, the child support order can actually go up or down under the new guidelines even if the income used hasn’t changed.3. Guidelines now allow for an order up to 40% of payors income under circumstances. In cases where the guidelines suggest an order in excess of 40%, then there is an opportunity for court approved deviation from those guidelines.4. Orders which cover more than one child are generally higher than they would have been under the previous guidelines.5. Child care expenses are now more proportional based on the parents’ ability to pay for the first $355 per week per child.6. Social security benefits are now more defined. Under the 2021 guidelines, social security benefits and SSDI are now considered, especially if one of the parents are receiving benefits for one or more of the children.7. Additional income can now be used in calculation of child support. Generally speaking, the parties can now include any stock benefit, incentives and overtime when determining a party’s income. We expect that the courts will continue to look at three (3) years of history to determine if that income is an expectation or a one time event.As always, please feel free to reach out to us with any family law or other issues if we can be of help to you. Regards,John & Faye

 

Every four years, the Massachusetts Probate and Family Courts task force re-evaluates the child support guidelines to determine their effectiveness and what changes need to be made. Last fall, the court launched new guidelines which made the 2018 version extinct. Some of the notable changes can lead to a significant change for both the payor and the payee:

1. The minimum order has decreased from $25 per week to between $12-20 per week. While the change may not seem significant, the relatively small difference can be profound for a parent who is already receiving such a minimal amount and trying to feed and clothe a child.
2. By contrast, the maximum threshold for combined gross income to be used for calculations has increased from $250,000 to $400,000 per year. Depending on income level, the child support order can actually go up or down under the new guidelines even if the income used hasn’t changed.
3. Guidelines now allow for an order up to 40% of payors income under circumstances. In cases where the guidelines suggest an order in excess of 40%, then there is an opportunity for court approved deviation from those guidelines.
4. Orders which cover more than one child are generally higher than they would have been under the previous guidelines.
5. Child care expenses are now more proportional based on the parents’ ability to pay for the first $355 per week per child.
6. Social security benefits are now more defined. Under the 2021 guidelines, social security benefits and SSDI are now considered, especially if one of the parents are receiving benefits for one or more of the children.
7. Additional income can now be used in calculation of child support. Generally speaking, the parties can now include any stock benefit, incentives and overtime when determining a party’s income. We expect that the courts will continue to look at three (3) years of history to determine if that income is an expectation or a one time event.

Love and marriage, love and marriageGo together like a horse and carriageThis I tell you brotherYou can’t have one without the otherLove and marriage, love and marriageIt’s an institute you can’t disparageAsk the local gentryAnd they will say it’s elementaryTry, try, try to separate themIt’s an illusionTry, try, try, and you will only comeTo this conclusionLove and marriage, love and marriageGo together like a horse and carriageDad was told by motherYou can’t have one without the other– Frank SinatraOne of our kids recently asked, “Why do people get married?”  The obvious answer is love, but people actually marry for different reasons. Often, when people are young, they marry for love, the celebration and the hope dream of happily ever after life.   As they get older, people marry for different reasons, including security.Being married does come with some financial benefits. Not only are there often tax advantages, but also pensions, social security, medical insurance and similar benefits. To the contrary, some people do not marry for opposite reasons, such as maintaining a death benefit receiving from a deceased spouse.   Many people don’t realize how important these financial implications are until they are separating and they become more of a consideration.There are also legal benefits to being married. While we will always recommend that individuals have their estate plan in place, being married may also allow for  any next of kin privileges at hospitals (including decision making and visitation),  paternity/ maternity rights,  as well as coverage under the Family Medical Leave Act. One of the most interesting parts of helping establish a Prenuptial Agreement is that it causes people to think about these things before they are married; however, more often than not, we find that people don’t really think about them until they are in their golden years or contemplating divorce. As always, please let us know if we can help you in any way. Warm wishes for a healthy and prosperous 2022.John & Faye