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!

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:


Much to our disappointment, we are not actually Batman and Robin. We do not have x-ray vision, we can’t fly and we also can’t shoot webs at people to stop them in their tracks. Unfortunately, a “Power of Attorney*” has nothing to do with having super hero powers; it does, however, allow people to help you in your time of need.

Most people think about a Power of Attorney only being active when you are unable to handle matters on your own; to the contrary, it can be used when you don’t want to handle matters on your own. Think about these typical situations:

1. You have a financial account but you partner, daughter or nephew is more financially savvy than you. If you give the financial institution your executed document and a quick verbal confirmation that the document is still active, they are able to engage in conversations or perform transactions on your behalf.**
2. Your child reaches the age of 18. If you were to call your child’s college or university to discuss something, even tuition payments, the administration has no obligation to talk with you. Similar to above, an executed Power of Attorney and quick confirmation will allow for communication to occur between you and the administration.
3. Selling a house. This situation is usually slightly different because a Limited Power of Attorney is typically used rather than a “durable” one. The limited version only allows the person to help you for specific purpose rather than a more broad ability. We routinely have our sellers sign a Limited Power of Attorney so that we can sign closing documents on their behalf.

As always, please let us know if you have any questions or concerns about this or any other matter.

Warm regards,
John & Faye

* This refers to a Durable Power of Attorney.
** This can also be accomplished by having the person listed as a co-owner of an account; however, once the person is a co-owner, they also have inheritance rights to that account.

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.

A Solid NO.

Pretty much every time that we talk about child custody or parenting, the phrase “Best Interest of the Child” is either uttered or written. If you have been divorced within the last decade or so, you have attended a parent education class which focuses on co-parenting.

We can actually tell a lot about our clients depending on how they react to the parenting class. Great parents seem to take the class hoping to gain some ideas and bad parents often think that the information doesn’t apply to them.

The principles should be basic but we want to share them nonetheless. If you are a co-parent, there are things that you should never ever do:

1. Never talk negatively about your co- parent. Your child loves both parents and, if you talk trash about their other parent, they will potentially internalize it as disapproval of who they are as an individual;
2.  If the co- parent starts dating someone or gets married, do not criticize that new person to your child. Children need to form their own opinions and build their own relationships;
3. Do not cancel out on parenting time if you can avoid it. Things happen: people get sick, work runs late and emergencies happen. Cancellations should be exceptions, not the standard;
4. Do not set rules in your home that are drastically different from the home they have with your co- parent. Will there be some minor differences? Of course. The best things for a child are stability, structure and predictability. It probably doesn’t make a huge difference if one home eats at 5pm versus 6pm, but bed times that are hours apart will create a grumpy and confused child;
5. Do not spoil your children too much during your parenting time. It’s really tempting to be the “fun parent,” especially if you are not with your child on a daily basis. Kids do not love you because you sneak them extra cookies (though many grandparents would disagree);
6. Do not leave all homework to the other parent. Almost nobody enjoys Common Core math  but chances are that one parent doesn’t mind it as much as another. Work together to use your talents, skills and knowledge whenever possible. Your children will benefit academically and they will that both parents make them their top priority;
7. Do not ignore your children when you have time with them. Consider playing Xbox WITH your child instead of just letting them sit in the basement alone. Quality time is always more important than quantity;
8. Do not forget to have fun together while also teaching life lessons.  Chores are not really fun, but they are important and can be done together. Teach your child to mow the lawn, do laundry and other life skills, then celebrate a job well done together;
9. Do not introduce your child to every person that you date. If you are serious with someone, it might be appropriate that your child gets to know this new person.  Before you introduce that person to your child, talk with the other parent and the child to let them know that it is going to happen so that everyone can support the child emotionally. If your child is not comfortable meeting someone, take that cue and wait. When you do make an introduction, keep it light and short. Allow your child and your person to develop a relationship on their own and at their own pace.

As always,  please let us know if you have any questions about this or any other legal matters.

John & Faye