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:

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.

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

Work Hard for the $$$.

“Nine a.m. on the hour hand
And she’s waiting for the bell
And she’s looking real pretty
Just wait for her clientele
She works hard for the money
So hard for it, honey”

-Donna Summer

We never really loved the song “She Works Hard for the Money” when it was released waaaaay back in 1983. Don’t get us wrong: we love Donna Summer*; she had a set of pipes on her like no other.

When we listened to the song recently, we started thinking about what our clients go through if and when they go back to work post-divorce. While many parties have worked throughout their marriage, quite a few have opted to stay at home to raise children or to keep the home in order.

Several things may determine whether a spouse who has not worked during the marriage will go back into the workplace, including:
1. The age of the person;
2. Whether the person wants to go back to work (ie. social interaction, intellectual stimulation, wanting to use their education, needing something to do, etc); OR
3. Whether the person needs to go back to work to support themselves, get insurance or maintain a home.

Going back to work can turn out to be a very good thing. It can build confidence, self esteem and will usually make for some great stories regardless of job or career. Divorce Magazine has some great thoughts on this topic too:

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

Warm regards,
John & Faye

* Fun fact: While writing this newsletter, we sat trying to decide whether “Hot Stuff” or “Dim all the Lights” was our favorite Donna Summer song of all time. What do YOU think?


For everyone who knows us, you know that one of us has a shoe obsession*. There is a massive love of high heels but also a strong affection for sandals, wedges, loafers, flip flops, ballet shoes and even cozy slippers. Given this obsession, you may be surprised that this is the first newsletter that we have ever written about shoes.

The great thing about about shoes is that there is a pair of shoes to fit your personality, mood and lifestyle. The same can be said about child custody agreements; there is an agreement to fit every “pair” of parents..

Although the specifics terms of the plans can be as different as stilettos and flip flops, custody can generally be defined several ways under M.G.L. c. 208:
1. Sole legal custody: One parent has the exclusive right and responsibility to make decisions about matters that have a significant impact on the life of their child(ren), such as education, medical care and religious upbringing. Sole legal custody is more rare than you might expect. We see sole custody most
often if one parent has a history of drug use, physical abuse, untreated mental health issues or if there is a restraining order currently in place;
2. Shared legal custody: Both parents have the right and responsibility to make decisions about matters that have a significant impact on the life of their child(ren), such as education, medical care and religious upbringing. This is the default unless there is something significant happening within the family as suggested above;
3. Sole physical custody: The child(ren) resides only with and supervised by only parent but may have visitation with the other parent unless visitation would not be in the best interest of the child(ren). We occasionally see parents who live in different states who will have shared legal custody but only one parent has physical custody;
4. Joint physical custody: The child(ren) reside in the homes of and supervised by both parents on a regular basis. What this model looks like can vary greatly from family to family. While some parents have the child(ren) rotate homes every couple of days, others stick to the classic one dinner during the week and parenting time every other weekend. Sometimes, parents with joint physical custody will choose a “primary” parent for the child(ren) in order to determine school choice. There is no “correct” schedule for co-parenting.

As always, please let us know if you have questions regarding a family law or other matters.
Warmest regards,
Faye and John

* We will let you decide which one of us loves shoes!