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Showing posts from May, 2011

Update on the Alimony Reform Act of 2011: The Winds of Change

On May 18, 2011, a public hearing took place at the Massachusetts State House before the Joint Committee on the Judiciary. The bills that garnered the most attention involved human trafficking, redefining joint custody, and the Massachusetts Alimony Reform Act of 2011 (S0665) . While efforts to reform alimony in Massachusetts have fallen short in the past, the atmosphere was one similar to watching an athlete jog a victory lap. In a forum designed to encourage debate and dissenting opinions, there was no notable opposition to the bill, as the Joint Task Force established by the Judiciary Committee seems to have crafted a bill that expected to pass this session. Steve Hitner, the co-founder of the Mass Alimony Reform group, received a standing ovation and a round of applause just prior to testifying. Usually, such welcomes operate against the rules of decorum, but Committee co-chairs Eugene O'Flaherty (D-Chelsea) and Cynthia Stone Creem (D-Newton) allowed it, recognizing the

Como divorciar-se quando não falo inglês ?

Mesmo que não fale inglês, o probate & family courts de Massachusetts tem sido acessível a todos. Se você não fala inglês suficiente e tem dificuldade de entender o juiz, ou preencher algum formulário, a court apontara um interprete para estar presente em qualquer audiência Pela Secretaria de Serviço de Interprete. Lembrando que, se sua língua nativa e português ou espanhol (como representa 86% que não falam inglês das pessoas na court de Massachusetts), a court tem liberado formulário e declaração com instrução nas línguas citadas,que poderão ser acessadas para download aqui. Versão Inglês / English Version Versão em Espanhol / Spanish Version

How do I get Divorced if I don't speak English?

Even if you don't speak English, the Probate & Family Courts in Massachusetts have made an effort to be accessible to all. If you do not speak English well enough to be comfortable understanding a Judge at a court hearing or to complete the forms, notify the court staff and they can arrange for an Interpreter to be present at any court hearing through the Office of Interpreter Services. In addition, if your native language is Spanish or Portuguese (which represents 86 percent of the non-english speaking litigants in Massachusetts), the Court has released a short form Financial Statement and Instructions in each of those languages, available for download here. Unless the irony of this blog title is lost on you, you're probably wondering how someone is supposed to read this who doesn't speak English. For that reason, we are re-posting this Blog in both a: Spanish Version / Versión española Portuguese Version / Versão Português (with special thanks to the friends

¿Cómo me divorcio si no hablo Inglés?

Incluso si usted no habla Inglés, la Tutela y los tribunales de familia en Massachusetts han hecho un esfuerzo para ser accesible a todos. Si usted no habla Inglés lo suficientemente bien como para entender cómodo un juez en una audiencia en la corte o para completar los formularios, notificar al personal del tribunal y hacer arreglos para un intérprete de estar presente en cualquier audiencia de la corte a través de la Oficina de Servicios de Intérprete. Además, si su lengua materna es el español o portugués (que representa el 86 por ciento de los litigantes que no hablan lnglés en Massachusetts), el Tribunal ha publicado un breve formulario de Estados Financieros e instrucciones en cada uno de esos idiomas, disponible para su descarga aquí. Versión Inglés / English Version Versión en Portugués / Portuguese Version

The Perfect Divorce: Does it Exist?

NO. That was easy, next blog post... No, you want more than that? Okay: Divorce is by definition about the failure of a plan. You got married, you took vows, and it didn't work out. Whether or not you are about assigning blame (and there is usually enough to go around), divorce is about picking up the pieces of a failure. Accepting that disappointment is as important a step in moving on as accepting that the marriage was over in the first place. If you take that failure personally, you should discuss those feelings with friends, family or a professional therapist. You shouldn't ignore them because you need to find a way to move past them in order to deal with the practical realities of dividing up a marital life. With respect to finances, divorce means dividing up a business partnership, and there is no perfect or ideal way to do this. In Massachusetts, the court can consider numerous factors in how to do this ( M.G.L. c. 208 s34 ), but in practice most cases set

Alimony Reform Update: Committee Hearing on Wednesday 5/18

The Alimony Reform Act of 2011 has had a lot of buzz in the past few months. Since it's filing, over 130 legislators have signed on as Petitioners and many family law practitioners have expressed their support for the bill. Despite some reservations we at Kelsey & Trask, P.C. have about the bill, we believe that it is a significant improvement over the current alimony law in Massachusetts. In addition, we recognize that some of the provisions that we think could be improved (such as the child support integration) were the result of significant compromise from all of the interested parties (lawyers, judges, citizens and advocates). Therefore, we at Kelsey & Trask, P.C. support the efforts of Bill Sponsor Gale Candaras and the numerous petitioners to have this bill entered into law as soon as possible. If you agree, voice your opinion to your state legislators. The Joint Committee on the Judiciary is holding a hearing this Wednesday, May 18, 2011 at 1:00 P.M. i

Should I Rent or Buy a new Home?

To Rent or Buy? That is the question. Trulia.com shows us, with some neat graphics , that the answer depends on where you live. If you're in Phoenix of Jacksonville: Buy, Buy, Buy. But not so fast in New York City or Boston. No matter where you live, one of the most expensive parts of a divorce is changing your lifestyle from supporting one household on your current incomes to supporting two households. Whether or not the current home is sold or one person stays there, in the end both parties are faced with the question: is it better to buy or rent? Traditional thinking is that it is better to buy. It is the American Dream to own your own home, and the government assists you by offering a mortgage interest deduction on your income taxes. But as Trulia.com's graphics demonstrate, that may not be enough in todays market. Let's use Natick, Massachusetts to test an example: The average rent for a 2BR home or apartment in Natick in 2010 was $1400. The cost of l

If I leave the House, will I lose my Financial Interest?

In many divorce cases, the initial fight is over who will leave the house. In cases where the parties own the home, the first person to leave is often very concerned that the spouse remaining behind will have a financial advantage. While there are some potential financial advantages to the party that remains behind, in most cases they are minimal when compared to the quality of life improvement one experiences by leaving a stressful living situation. The potential financial advantage is primarily the use of the house during the pendency of the divorce action, which may have some financial benefit depending on how the bills of the house are split during the separation. There is also the immediate expenses for moving and replacing any furniture or other necessities, but unless one party buys the other out from the house both will eventually have this cost. There are potential problems with one party controlling the property, for instance they can make it more difficult to show to

If I leave the House, will I lose my Kids?

The most common reason for divorcing spouses to continue living in the same house is because neither wants to leave their children behind. When a parent leaves the home and moves to another location without an agreement for parenting plan in place, they are essentially ceding physical custody to the other parent. Physical custody is simply defined as who the children reside with and unless there is a plan in place, if only one parent lives in the children's home, then that parent necessarily has physical custody (it is possible for a parent to move out with the children, but this is unusual except in cases of abuse). While many parents will fight over who can remain in the home during this time period, this argument is a distraction from the reality that eventually divorcing spouses will live separate and apart. It makes more sense for the spouse who will eventually move to begin investigating their other options as soon as possible, and for parents to work out a realistic pa

A Trend in Diamonds?... Have you considered a Prenup?

According to a recent post by a jeweler that specializes in diamond rings, Brown Diamond Rings may be the next big trend . Upon hearing this, I was immediately reminded of a scene from one of my favorite movies, Beautiful Girls , in which a guy tries to explain to his friends the brown diamond ring he bought for a girl who just broke up with him: Kev: It's a trend in diamonds. Champagne. It's a nice stone. Willie: Yeah, no, I heard about this. It's a new trend in the diamond trade, they're trying to create a new market. Tommy: Oh, right, right. yeah. They were callin' 'em "piss", but they weren't moving any units. What's with you, man? Paul: What? Tommy: Well, how much you pay for this brown rock? Paul: What difference does it make? Tommy: Diamonds are supposed to be colorless! You go out and buy a colored diamond for a girl you're not even seeing, man, you must be eating retard sandwiches again. So, if you're consider

Can I go to Jail for not paying Child Support?

Under M.G.L. c. 215 s 34 , a Judge can incarcerate a Defendant who has failed to pay under a Court Order that was clear and unambiguous, so long as the Defendant had the ability to pay. Many Contempt Complaints in the past few years for issues of non-payment have been due to the down-turn in the economy. The key issue in many of those cases is whether or not the Defendant had the ability to pay. It can be difficult, though, for the Court to distinguish between a party who is a victim of circumstance and truly unable to pay, and the lazy or vindictive ex who is just not trying to pay their fair share. In 2009, Judges in Massachusetts incarcerated 848 defendants for Contempt. In 2010, the number dropped to 622. That drop may be due to a perception that the economy is affecting more Defendants, but it's difficult to know for sure. Regardless, you don't want to be among those counted in 2011 (nor do we want any of our clients to add to that number). In these cases the cre

Can DCF records be used in my Custody Case?

The Court can use any credible evidence, that conforms with the rules of evidence, in making determinations about custody. The Court often has to weigh the source of the evidence as well as the content of the evidence presented. This is the same for DCF records, although there are limitations on how this information is obtained by the Court. In a recent case, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, reviewed and stayed certain informal procedures that were being used in the Hampden Division of the Probate and Family Court to access the confidential information contained in Department of Children and Families records. Brantley v. Hampden Division of the Probate and Family Court Department, Mass SJC-10343 (2010). When DCF gets involved with a family it is usually an indicator that there is some danger of neglect or abuse to the children. Naturally this information could be useful for Probate and Family Court Judges to be aware of in making determinations. However, there are l

Does Bad Conduct matter in a Divorce case?

M.G.L. 208 s 34 provides a list of factors for the court to consider in dividing marital property and/or assigning alimony awards. One of these factors is "the conduct of the parties during the marriage." Quite often this is the factor that clients want to talk about the most, but is the least important factor to the court. Although adultery and other offensive behavior may have led to the divorce, the Judges are used to seeing this behavior in so many cases that they become jaded to it and prefer to focus on the financial factors most of the time. This means that bad conduct which affects the finances (such as spending money on an extra-marital affair or gambling) will be taken into account, but often bad conduct which does not affect the finances will not. However, this does not mean that non-financial bad conduct has no effect at all, and sometimes if it is egregious enough the court may consider its effect on the marriage itself. Especially if the conduct is sig