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Middlesex County Divorce Law Blog

How does property division work in Massachusetts?

The most important thing to keep in mind when it comes to property division in Massachusetts is the term "marital property." Marital property includes all of the possessions, assets and interests that you and your spouse acquired during the course of your marriage. While there are some exceptions to this rule, marital property is the standard benchmark for asset division in the state. That said, whether or not specific types of property will be categorized as marital is subject to legal interpretation.

In the state of Massachusetts, marital property is divided equitably. This means that assets are not necessarily divided equally; rather, they are divided "fairly." Although most couples are able to come to a resolution on property division matters on their own without the need to go to court, in some cases, it is necessary to have a judge or arbitrator make the final decision in an unresolvable property division dispute.

Protecting the rights of high net worth individuals in divorce

Divorce is not an easy process for anyone, but it gets even more difficult for high net worth individuals. The more assets Massachusetts couples have, the more they need to employ various accountants and other professionals to perform legal and financial analyses.

When determining who has the right to particular assets, questions need to be asked to determine if the assets need to be split, or if they are individual assets that will go a particular spouse. For example, was the particular asset acquired prior to the marriage? If that is the case, then the property will likely be deemed an individual asset by the court, and the person who owned the property will not have to split it during divorce.

Rosie O'Donnell's estranged wife wants custody of their daughter

Comedian and television talk show host, Rosie O'Donnell is in the midst of a divorce with her estranged wife, Michelle Rounds. The divorce is beginning to grow contentious as Rounds is pushing hard for full custody of the 2-year-old daughter the couple share together.

According to Rounds, O'Donnell neglects their baby, has a lazy parenting philosophy and abuses marijuana and alcohol. According to one source, O'Donnell consumes a bottle of wine almost every night, and regularly uses marijuana for recreational purposes. Allegedly, she likes to smoke marijuana and snack on THC-infused food items. Furthermore, Rounds alleges that Rosie has allowed their 19-year-old son to host parties where underage alcohol consumption is taking place.

Establishing paternity in a Massachusetts child custody case

It was not always as easy as it is today to establish paternity in a Massachusetts child custody case. Twenty years ago, medical technology for genetic testing in paternity cases was still in its infancy. If a father wanted to prove in court that he was indeed the father of a particular child, a variety of inconclusive evidence would need to be submitted in court.

For example, fathers might need to bring forward witnesses who could vouch for the fact that he had a romantic relationship with the mother of his child. Receipts from gift purchase, testimony of friends, pictures, correspondence, phone messages and other evidence might have been submitted as evidence to prove the relationship. Also, blood testing was available, but still there was a margin of error with these methods and the facts were not always conclusive.

Assets and prenup become issue in celebrity chef's divorce

Celebrity chef Bobby Flay and his wife Stephanie March separated last month. Since news of the breakup made it into the limelight, rumors have surfaced that Flay was unfaithful to his wife. Now, allegations have surfaced that Stephanie March is spreading rumors concerning her estranged husband.

According to People Magazine, March is terribly upset about the accusations that she is creating rumors. In response to the accusations, she said that she believes Flay's friends and lawyers are just speculating and projecting. Meanwhile, a representative from Flay's camp advised People Magazine that they will refrain from responding to efforts to spread innuendo and rumors. The representative said that the allegation that March was spreading rumors was sent in confidence from one attorney to another, and it should not have been leaked to the press.

The difference between a contested and an uncontested divorce

Massachusetts residents are basically given the option between two different types of divorces: uncontested and contested. While both of these filings will eventually end with the marriage dissolved, there are some differences between the two. It's a good idea to be familiar with both so you know what to expect as you go through the divorce process.

The no-fault uncontested divorce is probably the easiest way to end a marriage. In these cases, both parties have agreed that there has been an "irretrievable breakdown" in the marriage and agreed on how the assets will be separated. Those terms will be put into a separation agreement, and you will have to have attended the parent education classes and filed your financial disclosures before a date can be set for the hearing.

Judge allows woman to serve divorce papers on Facebook

It really has become the digital age. In a recent story out of another east coast state, a judge has allowed a woman to serve her husband with divorce papers via Facebook.

The woman has spent years trying to locate and serve her husband divorce papers. When she was finally able to speak with him on the phone, he said that he wasn't employed and didn't have a permanent address. He also would not tell her where he was so she could have him served.

How can I lower my alimony payments in Massachusetts?

If you are short on cash and having a hard time paying your alimony obligations, you may be happy to hear that alimony payments in Massachusetts are not necessarily set in stone. If there is a material change in an alimony payer's ability to pay his or her monthly obligation, legal grounds may exist to lower the amount of alimony. Similarly, if there is a material change in the alimony recipient's need for money, then sufficient grounds may exist for lowering the payments in this case too.

Material changes could include earning less money in one's job, becoming ill and no longer being able to earn as much money as previously, or the recipient of the alimony might have a drastic change in economic circumstances. If the recipient wins the lottery or obtains an inheritance from a relative, for example, the payer might be able to argue for a lowering or ending of his or her obligations.

What life events can cause a Massachusetts divorce?

The negative aspects of divorce, like divisions of property, debt and questions about spousal support, can be so severe that it leaves many Massachusetts residents wondering what they may have done wrong in their marriage. While no one can know for sure the reason why a particular marriage was doomed to fail, there are a few events that -- if they occur -- may cause some concern.

Living apart is one of those events that can trigger any manner of problems in a marriage. According to RAND Corporation, which conducted a study of military families in 2013, the longer an enlisted service person was deployed away from his or her spouse, the higher chance there was that the marriage would end. This could have as much to do with the time apart as it has to do to the time re-adjusting to being back together again after living apart.

Seeking alimony payments in Massachusetts

At Novick & Meyers, we have helped countless individuals seek alimony payments in their divorce proceedings. Sometimes, it is necessary for us to empower individuals to feel "okay" about seeking these kinds of benefits from their soon-to-be ex-spouse. However, when a client in need of financially help sees the reality of their situation, it is fairly easy to understand why alimony payment are fair to both sides of the divorce.

If a Massachusetts resident is married to a spouse who earns more money, the lower-earning spouse is at a severe financial disadvantage coming out of the marriage. Indeed, the threat of cutting off this income stream was enough to keep many spouses in toxic -- and even physically or psychologically abusive -- marriages for the rest of their lives. Alimony laws solve this problem by giving a spouse a means to sever ties with the marriage and begin a new, independent life while not becoming financially destitute.

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