While driving through the Baltimore/ Washington D.C. area, there was a billboard that said, “Don’t get a divorce…get a bigger house.” Four days later, the advertisement is stuck in my head.
Although we are all for buying the house of your dreams, it will not save your marriage. What really happens to your house in a divorce?
1. The marital home is the most sought asset during a divorce. At the beginning of the divorce process, everyone wants to keep the marital home; however, it is rare that that both parties can afford to keep the home on their one income, often determining who could actually keep the house;
2. One spouse keeps the house. If one of the parties can afford to keep the home, they should refinance under their own name and based on their individual income. At the time of refinance, the ownership is often transferred by Quitclaim Deed;
3..Get your name off the mortgage if you don’t own the house. If you have signed a Quitclaim Deed to relinquish ownership rights, make sure that you don’t have any financial responsibility for the mortgage or taxes. We recommend this for both security (in case your ex doesn’t pay the mortgage for any reason) and because any financial obligations will limit your ability to secure your own credit for a future rental or purchase;
4. Sell the house. This can be done either before or after the divorce occurs, but it’s easier if the parties agree how the proceeds will be divided before the house is put on the market;
5. It gets more complicated when the mortgage exceeds the value of the home. Couples that cannot afford to pay the overage due usually have to choose a short sale, renting the home or continuing to live together;
5. Buying a house during the divorce process isn’t always a great idea. The home will be considered a marital asset and subject to division. Also, mortgage underwriters may be a bit concerned about your future income and assets, which could cause delays.
As always, please let us know if we can assist you with any concerns or legal matters.
“You didn’t always hate each other. There had to be nice moments, during the courtship, maybe? Or the wedding?”
-John Beckwith, Wedding Crashers (2005)
The “Divorce Nisi” period is one of the strangest legal concepts for people to grasp. Most people assume that their divorce is final on the day that a Judgement of Divorce is ordered; however, in Massachusetts, parties have to wait 90 days longer for their divorce to become final or absolute.
After months of fighting over airline miles, the Nisi period gives the parties an opportunity to “put away the swords” and consider reconciliation before their divorce becomes final. How often does this happen? Not often, but we always believe in looking at a glass half full and with the hope that it could. There are two defining characteristics of the “Nisi” period:
1. Neither party can remarry; and
2. If the Nisi period has not ended by December 31, the Parties will considered married for tax purposes and must file “joint” or “married, filing separately” for that year.
As always, please let us know if we can be of assistance to you.
It’s ironic that we approach a holiday week that celebrates independence from England by reflecting on how independent we are not. This year is a little different for us. We aren’t going to comment on the immigration issues that divide our country at the moment. What we are thinking about is how we are never truly independent.
This week, the announcement was made public by Wicked Local that we won the best local attorneys in the region. As the news broke, we couldn’t help but thinking about how we got here and it’s not from being independent.
We are the faces of WJS Legal, but we are not the reason for our success. We would be lost without Katie and Kyla, who help keep us organized and moving forward flawlessly. We could not succeed without our realtors and lenders. Our survival depends on our family law clients who trust us with the most intimate and sensitive parts of their lives. We need all of you, who believe in us and support our work. We are, truly, only two people who are surrounded by greatness.
Thank you for always supporting us and Happy 4th of July!
John and Faye
We recently read Duct Tape Marketing Revised and Updated by Josh Jantsch.*** As you might expect, the book is filled with creative marketing ideas. The book highlights an important part of our knowledge base that we wish people would use more often: referrals.*
We know a lot of people. Tons. Although most people in a field can do the same work for you, some truly set themselves apart by going the extra mile for their clients; we are happy to point you towards professionals who run a marathon.
We have spent years building these strong relationships and friendships. Do you know any realtors who have helped sellers get ready for a yard sale or told buyers where to do goat yoga, find amazing ethnic food and catch their favorite fish? We do! Do you know a CPA who isn’t afraid to give candid tax advice AND who will return your phone call on April 14th? We know someone! How about a family therapist that works with children coping with their parents’ divorce? Yes, we know some local practitioners that we really respect. How about a mortgage lender who always answers calls and emails within the hour or who attends all closings just to say “thank you” to the buyer? We work with some amazing, local lenders that we would love to introduce to you! Do you need help from someone who has an expertise in an area of law that we don’t? Yes, we know other lawyers too. If you ask, we will even give you a referral for the best salad with grilled chicken, which is a lunch time favorite in the office, in North.
Please don’t be afraid to ask.
John & Faye
*** Long before we read the book, one of our realtor friends got us thinking about writing a piece about referrals. He was working on the other side of a transaction and called our office late afternoon on a Friday to ask a quick question. We called back a little bit later from a cell phone. We didn’t think anything of it until he asked, “This is your cell phone number? You don’t block your number when you call realtors?” When we answered that it was and that he should always feel free to call us on it, he seemed surprised; something so simple was missing in his previous lawyer referrals and it was, apparently, something that he had accepted as normal. Maybe it is the norm and we aren’t normal (insert so many wise cracks here). Maybe we raised the bar and ruined other attorneys for him, but we are thrilled to have earned his respect, adoration and referrals, just by just being ourselves.
The legal experts of Twitter and Facebook are discussing Donald Trump Jr.’s* recent request for financial disclosures from his soon to be ex-wife, Vanessa. People are confused and asking many questions, including:
Don’t they have a Prenuptial Agreement** ? The answer to this is probably yes; and
Why would he care what his wife has when he’s the one with the deep pockets? Insert boring legal procedure here.
Massachusetts requires that parties make financial disclosures during the divorce process.*** This is true whether the parties have a Prenuptial Agreement** or the divorce is contested. Parties must fill out and exchange Financial Statements, listing all of their income, expenses, assets, and liabilities. Parties must also exchange three (3) years of individual and joint taxes, bank statements, investment statements, and inheritances**** (such as Vanessa Trump’s alleged inheritance from her father, who was an investor in a marinara sauce company).
As always, please let us know if we can provide any additional information for you regarding this or any other legal matter.
John and Faye
* This is not intended to be a commentary on any member of the Trump family or their politics. It is merely intended to provide information about divorce procedure.
** For more information regarding what makes a Prenuptial Agreement valid, please see: https://wjslegal.com/category/divorce/page/2/
*** We can’t confirm that this is true in every state in the country, but New York seems to have similar requirements to Massachusetts.
**** For more information on whether inheritances are considered individual or marital assets, please see: https://wjslegal.com/category/divorce/page/3/
Disclaimer: The material contained in this website does not constitute legal advice or a legal opinion as to any particular matter. Nor is it intended to create an attorney-client, business or professional relationship. You should not rely on the information contained in this website without first speaking with an attorney. No claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to this website are made. This material may be considered advertising under the rules of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts.