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Showing posts from August, 2010

When a Facebook Friend Request is Against the Law

Two weeks ago, a Florida man was arrested for logging on to his Facebook account and requesting that his estranged wife list him as a "friend" on the popular social networking website, Facebook. Of course, ordinarily requesting that someone be your "friend" on Facebook is not an arrestable offense, but it may be if it is in violation of a restraining order. While it is important to realize that the actual act of requesting that someone be your Facebook "friend" may seem completely innocuous, a judge may have little patience for it if there is an outstanding restraining order between the two individuals. If you are a party on either side of a restraining order, contact online, such as a friend request, instant message, email, or otherwise, is considered to be contact which may violate "no contact" provisions of most restraining orders.

Follow Up Story: No-Fault Divorce is now the law in all 50 states!

As discussed at length in a previous post ("Is No-Fault Divorce a Good Thing? It may soon be the law in all 50 states.") , pending legislation in New York would create a no-fault divorce statute in that state. Until recently, New York was the last state which still did not have a no-fault divorce option (without a significant waiting period). The signing of the new law by Governor David Paterson has now brought New York up to date with the status of divorce law in the other 49 states. To read more about the new New York law read "No-Fault Divorce Signed into Law in New York" which also contains the text of the law. Review our previous post for discussion of the many benefits of no-fault divorce .

Can I start dating during my divorce?

There are two ways to ask this question: Can I start dating while my divorce case is pending? and Should I start dating while my divorce case is pending? If you ask five different attorneys whether you should start dating during a divorce, you will probably get five different answers but here is ours: From a technical legal standpoint, adultery in Massachusetts is still a crime. Although it is almost never prosecuted it is important to note that if you engage in an intimate relationship while still married you are technically violating Massachusetts law and this could be brought up in your divorce case. From a more practical standpoint, as many of my clients have heard, I have a saying that goes "Don't live your life for your divorce case." By that I mean that you have to still live your life and make choices that are good for you, and not just good for your divorce case. But you also have to recognize that choices have consequences. In this instance if you hav

When can I (or will I) get re-married?

According to a Boston.com article a woman in Ohio learned via Facebook that her Husband had re-married, despite still being married to her. While the article suggests that there is some disagreement about whether or not the original marriage was valid, it's clear that the Husband should have waited to have the validity of his first marriage determined prior to getting married again. He has risked having his second marriage void, if the first is found to be valid. This situation is not typical because most clients seeking to end a marriage state that they are not in a rush to get married again. However, according to the U.S. Census Bureau between 66 and 75% of people who get divorced get remarried. Many of these remarriages are less than one year after the divorce. At the very least you are required to wait to get remarried until the day when you are officially divorced. In Massachusetts there is a waiting period (90 days for Complaints for Divorce, and 120 days for Joint P

Private Browsing: You don't need Congress' help to protect your privacy.

Two U.S. Congressman recently proposed an Internet Privacy Bill which would require websites to notify clients of all information that the website creates or collects, including cookies, session logs, etc. Regardless of how this bill fares, it surprises me that so many people are unaware that there is already a way to browse the internet without creating a record. Of course you should avoid providing your information on the internet except to trusted sources, but you may also want to avoid other internet records created simply by browsing a website. When you browse a website, it may create records within your browser to improve your browsing experience (such as cookies) and it also creates a record in your browsing history. Both of these options can be turned off in browsers, but this could hinder your everyday internet usage. Instead, when browsing sites that you don't want a record kept for (such as a divorce attorney's website) you can use Private Browsing options a

Divorce or Long-Term Separation: A Comparison.

According to a recent New York Times article , more couples are staying married in long-term separations instead of getting divorced. There can be some advantages to staying married, even if separated. For some, their religious or family obligations make divorce impractical. For others, financial considerations can warrant staying married. If a couple continues to share finances, it can often be beneficial (at least for one of the parties) to stay married. But there are risks as well. In Massachusetts, there is no such thing as a legal separation. This means that if you remain married, even if separated, then there are certain obligations and liabilities that continue. Although there is an action that allows for support in a separation (called a Complaint for Separate Support, Custody and Visitation), this action deals only with the issue of support, custody and visitation for parties living apart. A Separate Support action does not separate assets or debts, and does not ad

Client Choice: Flat Fee vs. Hourly Rates

There are many advantages and disadvantages to flat fee representation. The advantages include knowing the total cost in advance (which allows for better planning), understanding the full commitment at the beginning of the representation, and a resulting likely reduction in client stress. Because of these advantages many attorneys are pitching the fixed fee model as a revolution in client billing. The problem with this revolution, though, is that firms that are switching to fixed fee billing are making the same mistake that the traditional hourly billing model makes. These firms are assuming that they know what is best for their clients. I often tell my clients that they set the goals, and my job is to tell them whether I can meet those goals or not. If I think we can meet the goals, then my job is to use my knowledge of the court process and negotiation to try to reach those goals. In the same way that I do not believe that I can set a client's goals for them in a case, I

Divorce is not a Four Letter Word

As part of small talk when meeting new people we are all often faced with the question: What do you do? And, not surprisingly, answering "I'm a divorce attorney" is usually met with uncomfortable silence, and then the even more uncomfortable questions and comments: That must be hard. How do you deal with such sad situations? How do you keep doing it? And so on. People ask these questions because when they hear "divorce", they think about sadness, anger, affairs, breakups and all of the reasons why we never want to experience divorce in our own life. What they don't think about, though, is what the role of a divorce attorney actually is. Divorce doesn't have to be a four letter word. In fact, divorce should be thought of as a process. Divorce begins with sadness and anger, but it often ends with relief. I view the job of a divorce attorney as the same as any other attorney. People bring a problem to my office and my job is to bring them to a

This is your life, but it’s my job. And that’s a good thing.

Many people hire a lawyer for their divorce case simply because they are afraid to navigate the Court system by themselves. Rightfully so, people often fear that they will be taken advantage of or make mistakes if they represent themselves. But hiring a lawyer for your divorce case has other benefits as well. I often explain to my clients that there are three benefits to hiring a lawyer. 1. The first benefit is the most obvious to clients. It is the peace of mind that comes with knowing you have hired an expert who will ensure that your rights are protected. We accomplish this by explaining those rights to you, by helping you understand any documents before you sign them, and by enforcing those rights in court when necessary. 2. The second benefit is the practical side of the first. We are able to enforce your rights and advise you about them, because of our training and experience as lawyers. We know about statutes and case law that you do not, and we know the process of t