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Showing posts from December, 2011

I Just Got Divorced, How Do I Change My Name?

While there is a separate Petition for Change of Name in the Probate and Family Court, you can also change your name pursuant to a divorce judgment if your name change happens to be due to a divorce. There is a $150 filing fee plus a $15 surcharge for filing of a Petition for Change of Name. Technically there is only a $100 fee for changing your name pursuant to a Divorce Action, but this fee is seldom enforced. If you are not sure if you want to resume a former name during a divorce you may still change your name later by filing a Petition for Change of Name with the court, starting a new court case specifically for that purpose. Whether you change your name pursuant to a divorce case or pursuant to a Petition for Change of Name, there are some important logistics that you should be aware to record the name change with various agencies and organizations. The court will not contact the Social Security Administration on its own. You will need to obtain a certified copy of

Modification under the Alimony Reform Act of 2011: Updated Flowchart.

UPDATE: The SJC reached a decision on 1/30/2015 on three cases that interpreted the modification provisions of the Alimony Reform Act.  The SJC disagreed with our interpretation below and decided that the provisions on retirement age and cohabitation can not be read retroactively.  To read more on these decisions check out our post here:  Lifetime Alimony is Back (for some)! - Chin v. Merriot .  To see an updated flow-chart on modification visit this post:  Can I Modify my Alimony? Updated Flowchart. Original Post: The following flow-chart depicts the decision tree for determining whether you qualify for a modification of a Massachusetts alimony order under The Alimony Reform Act of 2011. You always have the ability to reach an agreement for modification, but in the event that you and your ex-spouse disagree about whether a modification order should be changed, this chart can help you figure out whether a court will change your order. The new law becomes effective March 1, 2012 b

It's Our First Holiday Season After the Divorce: How Do We Make It Easier on the Kids?

The holiday season is usually thought of as being a time to exchange gifts with loved ones, and gathering with friends and family. For families transitioning through a divorce or separation, the holidays can mark a melancholy season. What once was a time to spend with family has now taken on a new form.  For divorcing or separated couples with children, the holidays are now a time where the children are being shuttled to and from different parents' homes instead of spending the whole time with both parents together. While we are not therapists, we recognize the stress that is unique to divorcing couples with children. Family therapist Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW , wrote on Family Education's blog about how parents can approach the first separate holiday season with their children . Below is his advice and highlights: Show them you understand their feelings and worries: "I know you're going to feel sad sometimes this Christmas and maybe a little angry an

Should I Sign My Divorce Agreement?

Many individuals come to our office having gone through mediation with their soon-to-be-ex-spouse, asking us to review the separation agreement that they have negotiated. Whether we ultimately advise a client to sign a proposed agreement or not depends on the contents of the document and the individual's particular set of circumstances, 1. Has the marriage been irretrievably broken down with NO CHANCE OF RECONCILIATION ? 2. Does the Agreement completely resolve all issues relevant to the marriage in a fair and reasonable manner? 3. Is this an agreement that you can live with? In the end, it is not our life but yours, and the divorce agreement will govern some important aspects of your life in the future, especially when there are children involved. Being able to "live with a divorce agreement" means not only being happy or satisfied with it, but also being able to perform any of the agreement's obligations. If the agreement is not something that you can li

The Financial Statement and the Importance of Honesty

As part of any family law case in Massachusetts (including divorce, paternity, child support, modifications, etc.), Massachusetts Supplemental Probate Court Rule 401 requires that each party file a complete, true, and accurate financial statement. For individuals earning less than $75,000 per year, their financial statement is the " short form ." Individuals earning more than $75,000 are required to fill out the " long form ." A surprising number of individuals don't take the financial statement seriously, only to be surprised when their financial statement is scrutinized by the opposing party or the judge. When we receive a financial statement prior to a court hearing, we compare the income versus the expenditures, as well as to any previous financial statements. In addition, we review whether the opposing party has listed items such as interests in trusts and businesses, digital assets, patents, valuable collections, and whether the reported income is con


California Attorney Mark B. Baer started another great discussion on a LinkedIn group I belong to entitled: ARE THERE OTHER FAMILY LAW ATTORNEYS WHO TRY AND HELP THEIR CLIENTS TO IMPROVE THEIR MARRIAGES BEFORE DISSOLVING THEM? The answer is yes, and here were my comments in response to this discussion: In Massachusetts the standard for a no-fault divorce is irretrievable breakdown and the party (or parties) requesting the divorce must testify under oath that their marriage has irretrievably broken down with no chance of reconciliation. Whenever I provide an initial consultation, I ask that question very seriously and slowly, emphasizing the "no chance of reconciliation." In many cases it is clear that the potential client hadn't considered their desire for a divorce from that standpoint, and in many cases they have difficulty stating that there is no chance of reconciliation.  Because of the hesitation that so many potential clients show, I always inform them th

Visit the Office of the Future in the World of Tomorrow!

Thanks to  FirmFuture  presenter  Gabriel Cheong  for inspiring us to make better use of our iPad in the office. Now when you schedule an  initial consultation  we can use our iPad, displayed on the flat screen TV (pictured above), to show you: how to calculate  Child Support  or  Alimony  online how to create  Parenting Plans  online how calculate the  cost of Bankruptcy  online or evaluate the  length of time a Bankruptcy will take  online. And if you want any of the information printed out so you can take it home, our new laser HP printer can print directly from the iPad right in our conference room, using WiFi  magic . These are just some of the ways that we are trying to design our new office, at  160 Speen St, Suite 202, Framingham, MA , to be as friendly, convenient and useful to current or potential clients.  If you are interested in checking it out, give us a call at 508.655.5980 or  set up an appointment online here.

Is my iTunes Account a Marital Asset?

In Massachusetts, everything that either party to a divorce action owns or owes, regardless of whether it was acquired during the marriage or not, is subject to division in a divorce case. How it might be divided is a different question, but in order for that evaluation to happen, all assets and liabilities must first be disclosed. Massachusetts requires individuals involved in divorce cases to submit financial statements disclosing all of their assets and liabilities within 45 days of opening a divorce case. The assets to be listed on a financial statement are to include everything . This includes the most commonly thought of assets, such as physical assets (artwork, automobiles, jewelry, houses, etc.) and financial accounts (bank, investment, stock, retirement, etc.). This disclosure should also include items which you might not think about as assets. One example of an asset that many people don't typically think about is their frequent flyer miles, which was parodied in