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Showing posts from February, 2011

The Do's and Don'ts of Hiring a Divorce Attorney

Donna Ferber, a psychotherapist and author of the book "From Ex-Wife to Exceptional Life: A Woman's Journey Through Divorce" (Purple Lotus Press 2009), recently wrote a two-part blog on the Do's and Don'ts of hiring a divorce attorney . Some of the highlights: The Do's: - Just because your friend had a good experience with an attorney doesn’t mean they are the right one for you. Trust your gut. - Aggression doesn’t insure a “win”. An overly aggressive attorney may fan the flames of conflict rather than move toward resolution. - Pick an attorney who understands this isn’t about “winning”. She/He should understand divorce is about a major change in the family and that more than the “bottom line” will be affected. A good family attorney is willing, when necessary to work with your therapist. He/she is focused on the family’s post divorce situation and understands the interconnectedness of the family does not end with the dissolution of the marriage. In sh

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words, and the Date, and the Time, and your Exact GPS Location!

Warning: this blog is going to show you information that can be used for good or evil. If you are taking pictures with your phone (and even some cameras) and then posting those pictures on the internet, you are sharing more than just the picture. You are probably also sharing the date and time the picture was taken, the type of phone you have, what software you are using, and scariest of all - the exact location where the picture was taken. Do I have your attention now? Let me show you how it works: This morning I took the above picture with my IPhone. I edited the picture on my computer and posted it here. Even after editing the picture, however, the picture retains certain embedded information. To see this additional information you don't have to be a super smart computer hacker. On a PC, simply right-click the picture and select properties: Now click on the details tab and immediately you will see some information that I might not have intended to share, such as

Sharing is Caring - Tumblr and QR Codes

At Kelsey & Trask, P.C. we try to use the latest technology to stay current on the newest laws, to help our clients communicate with us more efficiently and to stay connected with our friends, other professionals and our clients. You probably already know how to find us on Facebook , LinkedIn and Twitter , and to download our iPhone Apps. And now we've added two more ways to connect with us faster: QR Codes and a Tumblr page. QR Codes: A QR Code is a two-dimensional barcode readable on any smart phone with a camera. Just download a QR Code Reader (I use Neo Reader , which is free) and you can use the camera in your phone to read the Code. For example, if you scan the Code to the right you would be taken to our mobile News & Media webpage . We've also incorporated QR Codes into our latest business cards (pictured below). If you scan the Codes on our business card you will be taken to our mobile contact page . From there you can get directions to our office

Is your Lawyer on Speed Dial?

If someone claiming to be an innocent citizen had their criminal attorney on speed dial you might wonder about their true proclivities. Well the same is true if you have your divorce attorney on speed dial, but claim you don't want a high conflict divorce. In the majority of divorce cases there is a lot of waiting time: waiting for documents, waiting for deadlines, and waiting for the next court date. Unfortunately, this is just the nature of how a court process works, and unless you can reach a full agreement with your soon-to-be ex-spouse then you will spend time waiting. During that waiting time, you can either be patient or you can call your attorney every day creating issues and problems that really didn't need your attorney's attention. It's important to remember that every time you call your attorney there is a cost, and what you're calling about may not be worth that cost. It's also important to remember that you hired your attorney to deal with

Are you Celebrating Valentine's Day or looking for a Divorce Attorney?

I don't know why exactly, but it is the case every year that we get busier with divorce cases around Valentine's Day. According to the New York Post and Avvo.com searches for divorce attorneys rise by as much as 40% around Valentine's day. Maybe this is because the whole world seems to be saturated with sickening sweet messages for people that are "in love." Or maybe it's the numerous reminders for couples that used to enjoy Valentine's day that they no longer have reason to celebrate. Regardless of the reason, if you are part of that 40%, consider giving yourself a Valentine's Day gift. Even if you are considering the intimidating process of starting a Divorce, remember that litigation is not the only way. Other options, such as Mediation, could be faster or cheaper. To read more about the advantages of Mediation check out these previous posts: What are the Advantages & Disadvantages of Mediation? Why Are More Couples Choosing Divorce

How should I tell my spouse that I want a Divorce?

Card Designed By: Clara Chandler  Click  here  to purchase. A recent Huffington Post slideshow highlights the problem with breaking the big "D" word:  Divorce Cards: The 8 Harshest Ways To Say Goodbye . Although many couples know a Divorce is coming, in almost all cases one person decides first that the marriage is irretrievably broken down and there is no chance of reconciliation. When that happens, the way that the subject is brought up can set the tone for the case moving forward. Parties can discuss the issue directly, or lawyers can bring up the subject via telephone call or letter. In some cases it may be necessary to have the party served by a constable or sheriff even though that might start the case on a negative note. While many couples will be comfortable enough to discuss the choice to divorce directly, there are two types of cases where it doesn't make sense to do so: 1. The first and most obvious reason that discussing divorce directly may not be

I'm getting Divorced, can I file a Single Status Tax Return?

For the purposes of Federal and Massachusetts income tax returns you are required to file under the status of either "joint" or "married, filing separately" if you are married to your spouse on December 31st of the tax year in question. Therefore, if you are in the process of getting a divorce but were still legally married on December 31, 2010, then you must file under one of these two statuses for the year 2010. There is no specific law that requires you to file under the status of "joint" or "married filing separately", and typically this is your choice. A Judge can order parties to file jointly if there will be a benefit (such as a higher refund), but this is not typical. In each case the choice of how to file can be affected by different factors. For example, if you are concerned that your spouse is hiding income, then you definitely would not want to file a "joint" tax return because you could be liable for his/her hidden inco

What is the purpose of the Divorce Nisi waiting period?

In Massachusetts the statutory waiting period after a Judgment of Divorce and before the divorce becomes final (or absolute) is called the Nisi period. After a divorce case settles or goes to trial, a Judgment of Divorce Nisi will issue and it will become Absolute after a further ninety (90) days. This waiting period serves the purpose of allowing parties to change their mind before the divorce becomes final. If the Judgment of Divorce Nisi has issued but not become final yet, and you and your spouse decide you don't want to get divorced, then you can file a Motion to Dismiss and the Judgment will be undone. Although many of my clients who are getting divorced think the idea of getting back together with their ex sounds crazy, I have had cases where this happened. In addition to offering a grace period to change your mind, the Nisi period has three other legal effects: 1. The most obvious effect of the waiting period is that you cannot remarry during the Nisi period, be

How Long after a Divorce do I have to wait before getting Re-married?

In Massachusetts there are statutory waiting periods that control when the divorce becomes final (also called Absolute). Until the divorce is officially final you cannot remarry anywhere without committing bigamy (i.e. being married to two people). In Massachusetts the length of this waiting period depends on the type of divorce case. In a Joint Petition for Divorce under Section 1A of M.G.L. c. 208, if both parties agree that there has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage and agree on all other issues related to their marriage, as described in a Separation Agreement, then you can file a Joint Petition for Divorce. The Court will set a date and time for an uncontested divorce hearing, once you have filed a Joint Petition for Divorce, a certified copy of the Marriage Certificate, an Affidavit of Irretrievable Breakdown, a Certificate of Absolute Divorce or Annulment, a Separation Agreement, two Rule 401 Financial Statements, and two Certificates of Attendance at the Paren

Dealing with the Stress of Divorce

As I get older I have begun to realize how much of my success is due to the support I receive from my family and friends. Without that support system to help me in the difficult times I wouldn't have had the courage and confidence to take many of the chances in my life that have led me to where I am. This has brought me to realize how important our support systems are and how often we take them for granted. Going through a divorce is often described as the second most stressful event in a person's life (next to the death of a loved one). It is important to find ways to reduce this stress so it doesn't negatively affect other areas of your life. When people experience the death of a loved one, social conventions provide many events and opportunities for family and friends to provide support. But talking about divorce is different. Sometimes people feel uncomfortable talking about their divorce with their friends and family. In addition, sometimes sharing too much a

Who Gets Hurt when You Play Telephone with Your Kids?

YOUR KIDS GET HURT! It seems obvious, but unfortunately many couples get caught up in the emotion of divorce and lose their ability to see their actions objectively. This is one of the reasons the Massachusetts Probate & Family Courts under Standing Order 99-1 require parents with minor children to attend the Court-sponsored Parents Apart education program. The Program discusses the impact of Divorce on children and tries to help parents understand how sending messages through children can be so damaging to children. If you need more convincing read this Rant posted on Craigslist by a child of divorce (Warning: the rant contains strong language). A brochure which lists the names, addresses and telephone numbers of the various organizations that provide the Parent Education program, in alphabetical order by town, is available by clicking here .

Does a Divorce affect my Homestead protection?

A new Massachusetts Homestead law was signed in December, 2010 (taking effect in March, 2011) and there are some provisions that relate to how a homestead is or is not affected by divorce: Effect of Homestead on Child Support or Alimony: M.G.L. c. 188 Section 3(b)(4) - The Homestead Exemption does NOT protect you from collection of child support or spousal support (a/k/a alimony). Effect of Marriage on Homestead for Spouse: M.G.L. c. 188 Section 5(d) - "The estate of homestead of an individual who records a declaration of homestead under section 3 and who subsequently marries shall automatically be deemed to benefit that individual’s spouse." Effect of Divorce Orders on Homestead for Spouse and Children: M.G.L. c. 188 Section 6 - "In a case where a complaint for divorce, separate support, guardianship or conservatorship has been filed in the probate court by or against a person entitled to the benefit of an estate of homestead, the spouse and minor children of

I'm Married but my Husband is not the Father of my Child; What Now?

In Massachusetts there is a presumption that a child born of a woman who is married, or was married in the last three hundred days before the child's birth, is the child of that woman's husband. This is a legal presumption and can be rebutted by evidence. If you are filing a Paternity Complaint and the mother was married at the time of the child's birth, or in the last three hundred days before the child's birth, then the Court requires that you use a different form and that you include the Husband as a Defendant in the action. Usually a DNA test will be performed to confirm that the Husband is not the Father (which is typically sufficient evidence to rebut the presumption) and then the action can proceed similar to any other Paternity action. This is apparently not the case in every state, as evidenced by a recent case in Michigan where a biological Father was denied parental rights because his child was born to a married couple, and Michigan law designated the Hus

Are there restrictions on what I can name my baby?

Although a recent LegalBlogWatch.com article discusses the limitations that some states place on baby names, in Massachusetts there are no restrictions in the general laws that limit parents' rights to name their child. M.G.L. c. 46 s 1 prohibits the recording of a father's information in the birth record of a child of unwed parents "except as provided in section 2 of chapter 209C where paternity has been acknowledged or adjudicated under the laws of the commonwealth or under the law of any other jurisdiction." This does not, however, restrict the right of the Mother to use the Father's surname, only restricts her ability to list him as the Father without his agreement. There may be administrative limitations such as limiting the full name to 40 characters for recording in the Massachusetts electronic data system (as reported in a law review article, Naming Baby: The Constitutional Dimensions of Parental Naming Rights ). It is also likely that administra