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Can I Sleep with my Wife or Husband during our Divorce?

This question was recently posted on Avvo.com and as a regular contributor I answered the question on that site. Since I have received a positive response to my answer I have decided to reprint it here:

Question: What are the rules about husband and wife sleeping together while they are getting a divorce? One of the pair doesn't want the divorce and is willing to work hard to turn things around. Right now there is no hope but I want there to be and am praying for a miracle. (spelling errors corrected)

Answer: There are no court rules or statutes that prevent a husband and wife from sleeping together before, during or after a divorce. In fact, the only law in Massachusetts preventing people from sleeping together is a prohibition on adultery which is not enforced anyway.

However, it could be extremely unhealthy for you to continue to sleep with your spouse if you are hopeful that it will result in a reconciliation but your spouse is adamant that it will not.

In Massachusetts, if on…

Is it a Crime if my Spouse Reads my E-mail?

The short answer is that your spouse has probably not violated any law by reading your e-mail, even if it is against your wishes. The law of technology is constantly changing, though, and you may want to think twice before snooping in your spouse's email.

The current law varies from state to state and you might be subject to criminal charges as the law catches up with technology. In Massachusetts, the First Circuit Court of Appeals in 2004 ruled that e-mail snooping was not a violation of the wire-tapping statute, and therefore not a crime under that law. If combined with concerning communications, e-mail snooping may be enough to trigger the criminal harassment statute in Massachusetts, though this would depend more likely on the nature of the other communications.

There is a Federal Law, the Electronic Communication Protection Act (ECPA), that prohibits interception of an e-mail while it is being transmitted. However, ECPA does not prohibit snooping in your e-mail inbox or o…

Scaling the Summit Word Cloud

Wondering what we've been writing about. Below is a word cloud generated by Wordle displaying our most written about subjects:

Should Parenting Plans include Holiday schedules?

As discussed in a previous post a Parenting Plan is a comprehensive agreement which sets out both the time that children will spend with each parent as well as the rights and obligations of each parent to the children and the other parent during their parenting time. Parenting Plans can be made specific or flexible depending on the requirements of each case but usually contain a base schedule.

In most cases it is also advisable to supplement the base schedule with a holiday schedule. At Kelsey & Trask, P.C. we have a template holiday plan that includes proposed schedules for many of the typical holidays that parents and children enjoy sharing together. However, we often encourage our clients to try and create their own holiday plans based on their family traditions, trying to keep as much of the family traditions intact for children already experiencing many changes.

If you are a separated or divorcing parent, we suggest that you pay special attention to how your children experien…

Why You Should Try to Avoid Divorce Court?

Although sometimes necessary, appearing in Court is often a lengthy, expensive, and disappointing trial (pun intended). Any combination of failed preparation, miscommunication between client and attorney, or incomplete discovery can cause the process to result in imperfect and incomplete Orders. Sometimes just the limitations of the court process (such as the limited time of the Judge to hear each case) can result in frustrating court appearances.

In order to avoid unnecessary costs, you may want to consider alternatives to litigation such as Mediation or Collaborative Law. For more information about those processes read our past posts:

What are the Advantages & Disadvantages of Mediation

Dramatic Impact of Mediation on Children of Divorce

Mediation, Collaborative Law or Litigation: What's your Vote? - A 3 Part Post:

The Cleavers Divorce: Collaborative Law, Mediation or Litigation - Part I

The Huxtable's Divorce: Collaborative Law, Mediation or Litigation - Part II

The Honey…

The 15 Most Expensive Divorces

There is very little that the average person can say they have in common with celebrities. We don't get chased by the paparazzi, we don't have personal chefs or personal trainers, and we can't get lost in our homes. But when it comes to celebrity marriages, they are just as likely (if not more likely) to end up in divorce court. Of course, when a celebrity, CEO or media mogul gets divorced the financial scale of their marital estates is very different than the average divorce case.

Below is a graph of the top 15 most expensive divorce payouts, ranging from 80 million to 1.7 billion dollars:


Sources:
Wikipedia List of Most Expensive Divorces
The Telegraph Article: Tiger Woods: the world's top ten highest divorce settlements
Burns & Associates: Top 15 Most Expensive Divorces Of All Time

Does a Criminal Record affect Child Custody?

If one of the parents in a custody case has a criminal record, the types of crimes on their record could have an effect on their chances of obtaining custody. In custody cases the issue is always going to come down to whether or not the best interests of the child might be affected.

In the most extreme case, in which one parent has been convicted of first degree murder of the other parent, the law specifically prohibits visitation with the children until they are of a suitable age to assent.

Similarly, but to a less serious degree, in making custody and visitation determinations the court will consider crimes that would cause one to question the fitness of a parent. These types of crimes would obviously include any violent crime convictions which could call into question whether the children would be in danger around a parent who has shown themselves to resort to violence when faced with conflict. In addition, drug and alcohol abuse offenses would call into question a parent'…

How Much Will my Divorce cost? How Can I Pay for it?

The one question that everyone asks at the end of their initial divorce consultation is "how much is this going to cost?" And with good reason, because cost is a valid concern, especially for many of our clients who have lower or middle class incomes and lifestyles. Unfortunately, the answer is vague and unsatisfying because it depends on so many factors. I try to provide clients at the initial consult with some idea of what I expect the range to be for their case based on what I've learned during that brief time. But some of the factors are truly unpredictable, most significantly how much the other side wants to fight.

There are many ways to reduce the cost of a divorce. In some cases, where both parties are well-informed and willing to cooperate, mediation can be a cheaper option then hiring two lawyers for the whole process. Even if you both have attorneys, following the court Rules and providing documents and other information in a timely fashion can help red…

What's in a Name? - The Problem with Labeling Parents "Custodial Parent" vs. "Visiting Parent"

It's difficult for people who haven't been involved in a divorce case to understand why divorcing spouses can be so mean to each other, especially when children are involved. But the emotions that couples experience when going through a divorce can be like riding a roller coaster. Many experts describe the emotional process of dealing with a divorce as similar to that of dealing with the death of a loved one, including all the same stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. When divorces involve children, these emotions are amplified by parent's fears that they will "lose" their children.

This is why the labels of "custodial parent" and "visiting parent" carry so much baggage with them, and can make people fight when they don't need to. When it comes to figuring out the best way that both parents can remain involved in the lives of their children, we believe it is more important for clients to focus on what …

What if I want to try Reconciliation? Is there a way to protect myself?

One of the questions that I ask clients in our free 1-hour initial divorce consultation, is whether or not they believe their marriage is irretrievably broken down with no chance of reconciliation. This is the standard in Massachusetts for a Judge granting a divorce. Many potential clients, despite having scheduled a divorce consultation, are actually unable to answer this question because there is still some "chance of reconciliation." In these instances I explain their rights in a potential divorce case but recommend that they try counseling and not come back to my office unless they are sure about their answer. For some, they fear that trying to reconcile will put them in a vulnerable position financially and for those instances there is now a solution: Post-nuptial agreements (also called marital agreements) allow married couples to make contracts that will control what happens if they get divorced.

A post-nuptial agreement can resolve the financial concerns and assu…

Alimony Reform: Stay Tuned!

UPDATE: There is pending legislation for major changes to the alimony statute in Massachusetts. The Alimony Reform Act of 2011 was filed on January 18, 2011 and you can learn more about the Act at MassAlimonyFormula.com or in our recent blog post highlighting the differences between the bill and the current law.

As previously reported on this Blog, there is an ongoing (and at times heated) debate in Massachusetts right now over how to amend the alimony statute. Despite how long this debate has been going on, it appears that we may finally be closer to some changes.

The Legislative Task Force appointed by Newton Senator, Cynthia Creem, is reportedly close to a recommendation which could have the backing of Judges, attorneys and at least some of the reformists. Although the final Bill is not complete yet, it will likely be filed prior to the deadline for this session, January 21, 2011, and include provisions relating to guidelines and duration as recomended by the Joint Task Force Repo…

Are Gifts from my Family considered Income by the Family Court?

The following is a joint Blog Post prepared by Justin Kelsey, Esq. of Kelsey & Trask, P.C. (co-author of Scaling the Summit: A Family Law Blog) and Danielle G. Van Ess, Esq. of DGVE law, LLC (author of the Massachusetts, Wills, Trusts, and Estates blog).

The Judges in the Probate & Family Court have a lot of discretion to decide what constitutes income when the Court is considering child support or alimony.

According to M.G.L. c. 208 s. 34, the court can consider "amount and sources of income... and the opportunity of each for future acquisition of capital assets and income" when dividing property or awarding alimony. This language obviously leaves a lot of leeway for the court to consider all "sources of income" including potential "future" income.

Similarly, the Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines indicate that the court can consider "gross income from whatever source regardless of whether that income is recognized by the Internal Rev…

Can I Prevent my Ex from Moving Our Children if they Still Live in-State?

As discussed in a previous post, M.G.L. c. 208 Section 30 states that a child who the Massachusetts' probate courts have jurisdiction over shall not be removed from the Commonwealth without consent of both parents or Order of the Court. This statute does not apply to vacations, but rather is intended to prevent the "removal" of children to another state of residence without permission of both parents or the Court's permission.

In a 2003 decision, the Massachusetts Appellate Court expanded this prohibition on removal to include relocation within the Commonwealth if the relocation would "involve significant disruption of the noncustodial parent's visitation rights and the parents cannot agree." D.C. v. J.S., 58 Mass. App. Ct. 351, 355-356 (2003).

If your ex is threatening to move to another part of the state with your children and it would significantly disrupt your parenting time with the children, then you can ask the Court to prevent this move. If the…

What is a Parenting Plan? What is the best Parenting Plan for my children?

A Parenting Plan is a comprehensive agreement which sets out both the time that children will spend with each parent as well as the rights and obligations of each parent to the children and the other parent during their parenting time. It can include a holiday visitation schedule, pick-up and drop-off locations, and even agreements relating to what will happen if one of the children becomes ill. Parenting Plans are necessary when two parents live apart (whether because they were never married, are divorced, getting divorced, or simply choosing to live separate and apart).

Parenting Plans can be made specific in instances where it is necessary to prevent future conflict, and they can be made flexible so that you and the other parent can make agreements outside of the parenting plan in unforeseen circumstances.

The best Parenting Plan for each family will depend on the ages of the children in that family,the schedules of both the parents and the children, the relative parenting abiliti…

Could I be Forced to Pay Child Support for someone else's Child?

Casino Billionaire to pay $100,000 per Month in Child Support for Non-Biological Child: As reported in a recent Boston.com Article, Billionaire Kirk Kerkorian, the major shareholder of MGM Resorts International, has settled with Lisa Bonder Kerkorian, to whom he was married for only 28 days, to pay over $10 million in child support arrears as well as $100,000 in child support per month. Even more shocking than the figures and the short term of the marriage is the fact that Mr. Kerkorian is not the biological father of the child and was purposefully defrauded by the mother who faked a DNA test.

In Massachusetts, a person who is married within 300 days of the birth of the child to the mother is the legal parent of the child even if they are not the biological parent. This is a presumption that can be overcome with a paternity test. However, even if the paternity test proves that the husband is not the biological father, this does not necessarily mean he is not the legal father. Some…

Dramatic Impact of Mediation on Children of Divorce

According to a 12 year study by Dr. Robert E. Emery, Ph.D., a Professor of Psychology and Director of the Center for Children, Families, and the Law at the University of Virginia, Mediation can have a dramatic impact on children of divorce and their relationship with a non-residential parent. Dr. Emery summarizes his findings in the recent issue of the Family Mediation Quarterly.

The study used a coin-flip to decide whether high-conflict custody cases would try a short-term (five hour average) mediation. The results of only five hours of mediation were amazing, especially with relation to the children.

Twelve years after the average divorce in America, nonresident parents saw their children weekly in only 11% of cases. In the cases where the parties tried mediation based solely on a coin-flip 28% of nonresident parents saw their children weekly after 12 years. This is a significant difference and the difference is even more significant with reference to telephone contact (weekly t…

The Role of new Technologies in Divorce Cases.

At Kelsey & Trask, P.C. we recognize that the state-of-the-art technology affects not just the positive aspects of our lives but also the negative. For example, constant access to e-mail, facebook, twitter and similar services provides us with both ways to connect and ways to be distracted (as described further in this NPR article about cell phones interfering with marriages).

It is important therefore to make effective use of technology to help you in your divorce case and also to recognize how the use of technology could hurt your case. These new technologies can also be used to help us learn more about the statistics of divorce (as described in this article about the break-up trends displayed in Facebook posts). Below you can find some resources on our blog and website that deal with both the positive and negative impact of technology on divorce.

We have written many times on this site about the many ways in which Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites are bei…

Is it Possible to have More than Two Parents?

Whether or not everyone approves, it is a fact of life that the "traditional nuclear family" is becoming less the norm. In the practice of family law we are encountering more and more unique family structures; some brought on by the advance of technology (like artificial insemination or surrogate parenthood), some brought on by divorce and re-marriage creating step or second families, and some brought on by the changing laws around gay marriage and adoption.

There are situations in the law in which the Courts have already dealt with the issue of whether a non-biological parent could be a "Parent" as well. For instance, in Massachusetts there is a Grandparent Visitation Statute that provides for visitation for grandparents with their grandchildren if they have been significantly involved in the children's lives. Although this standard is strictly applied by the Courts, a win on a grandparent visitation case is essentially a recognition that a child's gran…

Can I be sued for Divorce in Massachusetts if I don't live there but my spouse does?

If your spouse has lived in Massachusetts for one year or can establish that the breakdown of the marriage occurred in Massachusetts (as explained in a previous post) then they can obtain a divorce in Massachusetts. However, they will not be able to obtain personal jurisdiction over you and your property except in specific circumstances. In other words, Massachusetts can dissolve the marriage, but unless the Massachusetts courts can establish personal jurisdiction over you they cannot order you to transfer property that is outside Massachusetts or pay alimony.

Jurisdiction over the Dissolution of the Marriage

The United States Supreme Court in Williams v. North Carolina, 317 U. S. 287 (1942), decided that each State can determine the marital status of any spouse domiciled in that state, even if the other spouse is absent. Williams v. North Carolina, 317 U. S. 287, 298 (1942). In addition, the Court decided that under the Full Faith and Credit Clause that divorce decree must be honor…

When a Tweet is a Threat

Following up on an earlier blog post discussing how contact through social networking websites, such as Facebook, may be an arrestable offense when there is an existing restraining order in effect, threats posted on social networking websites may also give rise to the issuing of a restraining order. In Arizona, an argument between two college students was escalated when one of the students wrote on his Twitter account that he would "not hesitate to punch [the other student] in the face if I saw him . . . Just sayin." The other student then obtained a restraining order because of the "tweet."

Regardless of whether the "tweet" was a legitimate threat, it is important to realize that writing something of that nature on a social networking website makes it possible that the individual to whom you are referring might read it, and might take it seriously. Be smart. Don't take your arguments to the internet. You are just documenting the "he-said-s…

Most "Non-Custodial" Parents can still be significantly Involved in their Childrens' Lives

Many parents facing the prospect of a divorce or break-up where children are involved place a great deal of importance on obtaining "sole physical custody" or "joint physical custody" of the child or children. Parents are often devastated to find out that their former significant other is seeking sole physical custody, as if that phrase automatically means that there is an intent to preclude one parent from the child's life. These phrases have unfortunately taken on pop culture definitions that more often than not vary from reality.

Physical custody refers to where the child lives. If a child lives primarily at one place, usually thought to be about two-thirds of the time or more at the same residence, that child is considered to be in the "sole physical custody" of the parent who shares that address. Usually, children who are living in the sole physical custody of one parent have some sort of "visitation" schedule with the "non-cust…

Should I bring my new Significant Other or my Children to Family Court with me?

In most cases bringing your new significant other or your children to court with you is a bad idea.

Bringing a Significant Other:

In most cases having a third party in the courthouse (especially a significant other) inflames the other party and makes settlement less likely. While this is not always the case, the risk of making settlement more difficult is usually not worth the benefit of having a third party there.

Also, court is relatively boring. Your significant other will be able to wait with you in the courthouse but he/she will not be able to attend any family service meetings (i.e. required mediation prior to the court hearing). Court involves a lot of waiting around and there is usually something better that people can be doing with their time. For these reasons I usually recommend that clients come alone to court, but in the end it is your call.

Bringing your Children:

Whether or not the hearing involves your children bringing them to court with you is a bad idea for …

Do I have to Disclose My Residential Address in a Divorce?

Where you reside can affect whether or not the Court has jurisdiction over your case as discussed in a previous post: Where you get Divorced matters! - British woman loses rights to £1.2 Million Pension.

Assuming that Massachusetts has jurisdiction, you still need to disclose your address pursuant to Massachusetts Domestic Relations Procedure Rule 11 which states in pertinent part: "A party who is not represented by an attorney shall sign his pleadings and state his address, telephone number, and e-mail address if any." The Court needs to know your address so that the Judge can verify that jurisdiction is proper and in the event the court needs to send you Notice of any hearings or other matters. Likewise the opposing party needs your address in order to send you proper notice of pleadings pursuant to Massachusetts Domestic Relations Procedure Rule 5(b) and a P.O. Box is not considered sufficient.

It is possible to withhold your address from a party to a divorce case if you…

New Divorce law in New York includes Temporary Spousal Support Guidelines

UPDATE: There is pending legislation for major changes to the alimony statute in Massachusetts. The Alimony Reform Act of 2011 was filed on January 18, 2011 and you can learn more about the Act at MassAlimonyFormula.com or in our recent blog post highlighting the differences between the bill and the current law.

In March of 2010 Attorney Justin Kelsey of Kelsey & Trask, P.C. was contacted by the NYS Law Revision Commission because of his involvement in co-authoring the Divorce Spousal Support Calculator. The NYS Law Revision Commission was asked by a member of the New York State Assembly to investigate how other states were addressing the issue of alimony formulas. Attorney Kelsey discussed the issues at length during a telephone conversation with the executive director of the Commission and expressed his opinion (as described in a past blog post) that a formula at least has the advantage of treating everyone the same and offering consistency to the treatment of alimony by differ…

Why does the Texas GOP want to rescind No-Fault Divorce?

The Texas GOP in releasing their 2010 State Republican Party Platform have raised considerable amount of controversy over their ultra-conservative positions on criminalizing gay marriage, regulating school teaching of alternate theories to evolution, banning pornography, and other issues.

Included in the Platform is also an "urging" that the Texas legislature rescind no-fault divorce laws stating "We believe in the sanctity of marriage and that the integrity of this institution should be protected at all levels of government." Not surprisingly, the Texas GOP has joined the Catholic Church here by claiming that no-fault divorce is an attack on the "sanctity of marriage."

The Catholic Church recently claimed that allowing no-fault divorce in New York would raise the divorce rates in New York. Interestingly, the divorce rates in New York, though low compared to all 50 states (ranking 33rd), are still higher than a state like Massachusetts where No-Fault…

What happens to my case if I move out of state?

What happens to your case when you move out of state, depends on the type of case, and what stage your case is currently in.

Divorce Cases:

If your Divorce case has not been filed yet and you or your spouse move to another state, that state may gain jurisdiction over your case after a certain period of residency. For persons moving into Massachusetts from other states, Massachusetts gains jurisdiction over your case after 1 year of residency (or in other unique circumstances) and you can then file for Divorce in Massachusetts. If you want to file in another state you will have to meet their residency requirement before you can file there. In addition, another state may not be able to take full control over your entire case if you have left children or property behind in Massachusetts. You should consult with an attorney in both states if you are in this situation to make sure you choose the appropriate forum for your case.

If your Divorce case has already been filed in Massachusetts a…

What is Parental Alienation?

Put simply, Parental Alienation is the term used to describe when one parent turns a child against the other parent. However, Parental Alienation is anything but simple.

Even the issue of how to define Parental Alienation is hotly contested. As reported in a recent AP article, Psychiatric experts asses parental alienation, the American Psychiatric Association is debating whether or not to include "parental alienation syndrome" as a mental disorder in its updated catalog of disorders. The debate centers around whether the concept is real and all to common or whether it is overused. For example, according to some domestic violence advocates parental alienation is a concept used by abusers to place blame on the other parent and take focus off the abuse.

Regardless of whether you believe parental alienation should be recognized as a mental disorder, it is obvious that any activity intended to turn your child against their other parent is not in the best interest of the chi…

Are there any provisions of a Separation Agreement then must Merge?

For an explanation of the difference between merger and survival of Separation Agreement provisions read our past post on this question.

There are two types of provisions that cannot survive a Judgment of Divorce but must be merged. These are provisions relating to child custody/visitation and child support.

The Court retains jurisdiction over provisions relating to child custody/visitation to protect the children. For example, in the event one party becomes unfit to parent the children it would be detrimental to the children to have that provision survive and be unchangeable. Although there is another method by which a parent can give up their parental rights permanently (through a Waiver of Parental Rights), there is not any way that a party can guarantee they will keep their rights forever. The right to be custodial parent will always be subject to your continued fitness to parent your children.

Although typically paid to the custodial parent, child support is also for the be…

What is the difference between Merger and Survival?

One of the most important legal distinctions for clients to understand when signing a Divorce Agreement (also commonly called a Separation Agreement) is the difference between merger and survival. The distinction between these two designations could mean all the difference in whether an Agreement is fair and reasonable or not. It can affect whether or not you will have to return to court in the future, and could determine issues as important as whether or not alimony can be changed (increased, decreased, added, or eliminated) in the future.

Unfortunately, most pro se parties who prepare Separation Agreements on their own do not understand what this language means. Oftentimes I have also found that parties who used a mediator, but did not review their Agreement with a lawyer, do not fully understand what they've agreed to when it comes to the merger/survival clause. This clause is so important that spending a few hundred dollars to at least review your proposed Agreement with a…

Restraining Orders are not Force Fields

In tonight's episode of Community ("The Psychology of Letting Go" on NBC) one character treats his Restraining order like a force field. By moving towards the defendant, he forces the defendant of the restraining order to move away so that the defendant can stay at least 25 feet away.

In reality, restraining orders are not force fields. Although, a plaintiff cannot technically violate their own restraining order, a Judge will likely vacate the restraining order if they find out that the plaintiff has been contacting or approaching the defendant. That type of behavior demonstrates that the plaintiff is not in fear of the defendant.

In Massachusetts, M.G.L. ch. 209A provides that a plaintiff can obtain an abuse prevention order (commonly referred to as a restraining order) if there is attempted or actual physical harm or "placing another in fear of imminent serious physical harm." If a plaintiff is able to approach or contact the defendant then that is strong e…

Free One Day Seminar on Coping with Divorce

A group of researchers at Skidmore College will be sponsoring free one-day educational workshops this Fall in the Boston area for parents coping with divorce. At the workshop, you will have a chance to connect with other divorced parents. You will learn strategies for letting go of anger toward an ex-spouse and for moving toward a more peaceful, forgiving perspective. You will also learn strategies for reducing conflict with your ex- over parenting issues.

For more information and to sign up for our FREE coping with divorce workshop and research study: www.tinyurl.com/copingwithdivorce or email: divorce@skidmore.edu or call: (518) 580-8123

Can I obtain an Annulment?

Annulments and Divorces both accomplish the same result, that being the end of a marriage, however the reasons for getting an annulment and the reasons for getting a divorce differ significantly. A divorce will end a marriage because of something that happened during the marriage, whether that is infidelity, abuse, an inability to communicate, irreconcilable differences, etc. An annulment will end a marriage because of something that preexisted the marriage itself. In other words, because of something that existed at the time of the marriage, an annulment will end the marriage, or treat it as if it did not exist.

There are two categories of marriages that may be annulled: "void" and "voidable." A "void" marriage legally never existed. The law approaches these marriages as so repugnant that to end it would treat it as if it actually existed. This usually means you were not legally able to get married in the first place. In Massachusetts, a marriage …

Legal Differences Between Children Born to Married and Unmarried Parents

Last week, a colleague in North Carolina wrote about the different legal treatment in North Carolina between children born to married parents and "illegitimate" children (children not born to married parents -- many of our laws have not been updated since the dawn of the politically correct era, and label such children as "illegitimate" or "bastards," reflecting antiquated prejudices and stigmas against such children). The purpose of this post is to describe the ways treatment of such children in Massachusetts differs in some instances and is similar in others:

Illegitimate children may not inherit property from their father (except through a Last Will & Testament, voluntary acknowledgment of paternity, or an adjudication of paternity);Illegitimate children are not eligible for survivor's Social Security Benefits as a result of the death of the child's father (42 U.S.C. § 416(h)(2)(A); M.G.L. c. 190 § 5);Illegitimate children may sue for wrong…

Prenups and Postnups

With the rise in divorce rates over the past fifty years, many couples are approaching marriage with a lot more caution than past generations. Some couples are choosing to enter into agreements that, in the case that their marriage did end in divorce, would specify how to divide the assets between the spouses. These agreements are commonly called "prenuptial agreements," or "prenups," but are also known as antenuptial agreements. In Massachusetts, prenuptial agreements are valid so long as:

there is a full and fair disclosure of each individual's assets (you have to tell your soon-to-be spouse about everything that you have and vice-versa);the agreement is considered fair and reasonable both at the time that the agreement is entered into and at the time of the divorce (you can't take everything and leave your spouse financially dependent on the state); andthere is no fraud or duress (you can't present a prenuptial agreement to your fiancĂ©e right befor…

Why Are More Couples Choosing Divorce Mediation?

Courts in Massachusetts are backed up, always have been backed up, and will presumably be backed up for the foreseeable future. Because of this, divorce cases can often take over a year to complete, and the time that is actually spent in court can feel rushed due to the number of other cases. All too often a decision is made by the court leaving one spouse feeling as if he or she did not get a chance to tell the full story.

Mediation provides an opportunity for divorcing spouses to discuss the process of their separation in a more personal and private forum than in a court room, often times saving the divorcing couple thousands of dollars by avoiding expensive litigation. Divorcing spouses are able to speak to one another in the presence of the mediator, and deal with issues that a court might not want to spend too much time on.

Attorney Justin Kelsey brings his experience as a family law attorney with him into mediation in order to provide divorcing spouses with useful feedback regar…

Does my Ex have a right to my inheritance if we get divorced? What is a Vaughan Affidavit?

The short answer is that Judges in Massachusetts can consider inheritance or potential inheritances when dividing property in Massachusetts. This does not mean that inheritances are split equally but they will play a part in how property is divided and may affect support orders as well. Whether an inheritance has been received or not can make a big difference in how it affects the division and support.

Inheritances Received During or Before the Marriage

In Massachusetts the division of marital property in a divorce case is controlled by M.G.L. Chapter 208 Section 34, which states in pertinent part:

"In addition to or in lieu of a judgment to pay alimony, the court may assign to either husband or wife all or any part of the estate of the other, including but not limited to, all vested and nonvested benefits, rights and funds accrued during the marriage and which shall include, but not be limited to, retirement benefits, military retirement benefits if qualified under and to the e…