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Divorce - General, Laws and Process
Divorce in Massachusetts is hard enough. But what makes divorce even more difficult and costly is when spouses have the wrong information.
For years, divorce mediation clients have been asking for an alimony calculator and now, for the first time ever, one is available. With the popularity of Apple products such as the iPhone and iPad, it doesn’t surprise me that the first alimony calculator in Massachusetts is in the form of an app.
In part the fascination is related to the break up of long-term marriages. People wonder why, after so many years of living together, individuals would even bother to divorce.
Fear and divorce go together. Pointing this out to divorcing individuals as part of the divorce process can be extremely helpful. Fear is a powerful word. It puts the truth of the matter, emotionally speaking, on the table -- plainly, clearly, non-euphemistically.
Most of the divorcing couples who come to me for assistance have had a religious marriage ceremony. These couples sometimes have a question along the lines of one posed to me recently by an immigration attorney on behalf of his client: My client was married in civil proceedings and in a religious Muslim ceremony in the US.
Each approach is designed for different needs. No approach is inherently wrong but matching the appropriate approach to the appropriate circumstance can mean getting through a divorce with the least expenditure of emotional trauma, time, and money.
Litigation is a process where one or both parties (litigants) file a court complaint to give a judge the authority to resolve family disputes. The Judge is either appointed by the Governor or an elected official who, after hearing each point of view, makes a decision.
If the cause of the divorce occurred outside of Massachusetts, the plaintiff must reside in Massachusetts for at least one year prior to the filing of the action. If the cause of the divorce occurred within Massachusetts, at least one of the parties must be a Massachusetts resident.
When asked about the methods of getting a divorce, I find that most prospective clients think that there are only two ways: mediation and litigation. This surprises me, because there are many ways to get a divorce that lie on a continuum between mediation and litigation.
Post-divorce issues are common among couples who have had litigated and lawyer-negotiated divorces. Approximately 50% of couples who use the adversarial process return to court to resolve issues.
In Massachusetts, shared legal custody is presumed by the courts unless there is evidence of misconduct by one party. Misconduct generally means abuse by one party or a total inability of the parties to communicate. Legal custody generally means the ability to obtain access to educational, medical records of the child and the ability to participate in unusual or extraordinary decisions concerning the child.
In working with divorcing couples, reemployment of an at-home spouse is a recurring theme. This is usually (but not always) the wife, who needs to enter the job market after the divorce.
As a divorce lawyer and mediator, my job is to sort through the wreckage of a marriage to help clients find a post-marriage equilibrium of safety, fairness, and a modicum of peace. I read the signs of the breakdown like reading tea-leaves. The clues are everywhere.
Gay couples, not unlike straight couples, have different stories to tell, different issues to resolve. Yet since Massachusetts’s legalization of gay marriages, the divorcing population can be divided clearly into two distinctive sets: one group living together outside of marriage and the other married.
Welcome to the new millennium where you’re never too old to get divorced. Thanks to the good health brought upon by medical advances and wonder drugs, today’s senior citizens are living longer and healthier lives than ever before.
Couples often find the preliminary stages of the divorce process overwhelming because of the many issues they need to consider. Among these are questions about support, asset division, and children.
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Massachusetts permits several grounds for divorce, including the traditional fault grounds (such as adultery or incarceration) as well as no-fault grounds, which means a faultless but irretrievable breakdown of the marriage has occurred.
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