Kids, Kids, Kids

As many of you know, both of us are parents and one of us has a M.Ed. in counseling  and psychological services. Not surprisingly, our view of the world is often child focused.

We cannot reinforce enough the importance of parenting during and after divorce. Accusations of bad parenting probably make up 25% of the calls that we get on a weekly basis.

Divorce effects children of all ages. Some ways to keep your children happy(ish) during and after a divorce:

1. Always remember that your kids should be more important than anything or anyone else;
2. Allow them to see that you are imperfect and vulnerable yet surviving;
3. Maintain and demonstrate positive coping techniques;
4. Vent or soul search with a friend or therapist, but not to your children;
5. Be a good co-parent. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts mandates that all parents of minor children attend a Parent Education class. We also recommend that some parents hire a co-parenting counselor to learn effective communication;
6. Never ever EVER say a negative word about your ex when  your children at in the same location as you. They will hear it, even if you think they are asleep; and
7.  Encourage your kids to share how the divorce is effecting  or has effected them. Some kids are more verbal while others will act out behaviorally. Help your child to identify someone who they feel comfortable confiding in, whether it be an aunt, therapist, teacher, religious leader or you.

As always, please feel free to contact with any legal questions you may have. We also encourage you to read prior newsletters on our website www.wjslegal.com .

Warm regards,
John and Faye

 

 

 

Nicholas Cage clearly believes in the idea of marriage. He has been married four times, with his most recent marriage lasting only four days prior to filing for an annulment. According to reports, the movie star married a makeup artist in Las Vegas. What is most eyebrow raising about this most recent marriage is that his wife is disputing the annulment, but instead asking for a divorce and alimony.

Alimony is generally not awarded when the marriage is short term, including if an annulment is granted. Why is this case different? The wife is claiming that her reputation has been damaged by the annulment and that her future income will limited for that reason. We have no knowledge of Nevada law or specifics of the case, other than what was reported in the MSM, but Massachusetts courts would likely deny her request for alimony.

Massachusetts allows for alimony based on the length of the marriage and the needs of the parties. We allow for several types of alimony:

1. General Alimony: Support is paid to an ex -spouse who is financially dependent on the former spouse.
2. Rehabilitation Alimony: Support is paid to an ex-spouse who is expected to be self sufficient within a predicted amount of time.
3. Reimbursement Alimony: Support is paid to an ex spouse after a marriage lasting less than five years to make up for costs or expenses that helped him or her start a business, receive an education or similar.
4. Transition Alimony: Support is paid after a marriage of less than five years to help the spouse settle into a new location or life style post divorce.

There are few hard rules regarding alimony because all situations are so different. Whether alimony is appropriate can depend on many things, including child support orders, personal needs, age of the parties and the terms of the overall agreement.

Please let is know if we can answer questions about family law or any other legal matters.

Regards,
John and Faye

Pliability.
/ˌplīəˈbilədē/
noun: the quality of being easily bent; flexibility.
– Google Dictionary

If you live in New England, the word “pliability” may trigger thoughts about Tom Brady and Alex Guerrero. Arguably, Brady has been able to play into his 40’s and gain legendary status because of his commitment to pliability. 

Pliability is a must for the family of all professional athletes and coaches. Like having someone enlisted in the military, it is a full family commitment to crazy, constantly moving schedules.

Brady is not unique in that his family is blended; he has a child from a previous relationship and two children with his wife. What would happen if the mother of his oldest son wasn’t pliable?

No Super Bowl or parade for the kid even though his dad is the GOAT. Without knowing any of the parties or the specifics of their parenting agreement, it is unlikely that Brady always has visitation on the first Sunday of every February or the following week reserved so his son can ride in a parade (though it might be smart to do so).  Without some pliability by his mom,  the poor kid would miss these extraordinary, once (or six times) in a lifetime, experiences. While we realize that Brady’s specific concerns are not typical, they actually are pretty common.

Take the fairly typical “overnights every other weekend and dinner once or twice during the week” scenario. What if there is a big family event that the child would miss because it’s not the “right”  weekend for the parent?  What if Mom or Dad travel for work?  What if one of the parents or the child(ren) are sick? Ideally, both parents are pliable and do what is best for the child(ren).

Co-parenting can be bit trickier if the parents live far apart from one another. Typical visits are longer in duration, but less frequent. For some parents, it means commuting back and forth to where their child lives. In this scenario, the local parent should really be pliable if the parent shows up late, arrives early or needs to reschedule due to weather. 

Simply put, there is no “one size fits all” for co-parenting schedules and life happens. When developing a plan, the parents  should consider the needs, preferences and best interest of the child.  They should also be (wait for it) PLIABLE.

As always, please let us know if we can help you with developing a parenting agreement that works for you or any other legal matter.

Divorce can be messy. More often than not, people just grow apart or want different things from life; however, it is not unusual that clients come to us talking about adultery by one or both of the parties.  What should you do if your spouse cheats on you? 

  • Chose to work work together to save your marriage. We realize that this is almost never the first reaction, but for some couples, it is an option;
  • Have a consultation with a reputable attorney who can explain the divorce process and your rights; 
  • File a Complaint for Divorce, either jointly or contested, stating that there is an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage; or
  • File a Complaint for Divorce with fault. You can request that the court order a divorce based on many types of fault, including desertion, gross intoxication, adultery, non-support, impotency or extended incarceration. Some people feel that it is important to them, for a variety of reasons, to file in this manner. Because the petitioner essentially has to prove that his spouse is “guilty.” litigation typically takes a bit longer and is more costly.

Conduct is one of 34 factors that the courts use to determine the division of marital assets under Massachusetts General Law Chapter 208, Section 34.  How much does conduct of the parties really matter?  It depends, but can be somewhat punitive and restorative.

Consider and compare these two situations:
1.  Husband has purchased one casual dinner for his girlfriend per week over the last few months; 
2.  Wife has bought a dinner a week for her boyfriend for the last two years and all dinners were at the Four Seasons in different cities.

Different situations, right? Is the likely financial impact different? Yes. Very. 

Some states have taken the fault option a step further and allow for a spouse to sue the girlfriend or boyfriend involved: 

https://www.wcvb.com/article/calling-all-homewreckers-law-in-6-states-reminds-folks-not-to-break-up-marriages/26326601

What are your thoughts on this?

Working for the government is typically awesome. Most state and federal employees get incredible health and life insurance benefits.  They also have fairly “normal” hours, without necessity to check email on nights or weekends. These benefits are tossed on the back burner when there is a government shutdown.

Unfortunately, these shutdowns have become all too common, under both Democratic and Republican leadership. In late 1995-1996, the federal shutdown lasted over a month.  What happens to support obligations during these periods?

Child support and alimony obligations survive government shutdowns.  What should you do if a shutdown or layoff effects you?

The essentials:
Make sure that you have a rainy day fund. Regardless of whether you are self employed or working for someone else, there will certainly be an amount of time during your career where your income is less than usual or non-existent. Just like your rent or mortgage, you should plan for how you will pay your support obligations during that time; and

Communicate with your ex. We know, we know….you don’t want to talk with your ex, but it may save you unnecessary time in court.  If your ex is aware of the situation and you communicate your concerns to them, they may be more likely to work with you to figure out a reasonable solution rather than just bringing you in to court. In most cases, both parties can come up with a reasonable, short term agreement on their own. 

If those options don’t work:
If you are the payor, you could file a Complaint for Modification. If your loss of income continues for an extended period of time, it may worth it to file a Complaint for Modification based on a material (ie. significant) change of circumstance. Child support can always be changed, depending on custody and income; however, it typically takes a month or so to have matters heard so the change should be fairly long term; and

If you are the payee, you could file a Complaint for Contempt. If the loss of support continues for an extended period of time, it may be worth it to file a request that the court acknowledges that someone is in violation of an agreement (ie. Contempt). There is no minimum amount of late payments that must be accrued prior to filing, but judges usually look for a pattern or significant amount of late payments. Filing could lead to a finding that the person is in violation of the agreement, but the judge could also lower payments or defer to a payment plan on the arrears based on an inability to pay.

As always, please let us know if you have any questions about child support and alimony or any other legal matters.

Regards,
John & Faye