Divorce Law Monitor

  • DLM Blog Post – What Not to Do During a Divorce (2022 Edition) Part II – FinancialNovember 09, 2022

    In the second part of this two-part series, you will learn about financial pitfalls to avoid in the divorce process. Experienced divorce counsel can guide you to ensure that financial decisions don’t cost you credibility, time, and money. Always consult your attorney before taking any action that would have a significant financial impact, and consider these top 10 “what not to do” tips regarding finances.

    1. Do not forget to disclose all of your assets, income, and liabilities, and do not attempt to hide them. 

    You must disclose all assets, income, and liabilities to your divorce attorney and the Court. Failing to disclose them, and especially purposefully trying to hide them, can harm your credibility in court and result in increased legal fees, time, and annoyance.

    2. Do not gift assets to friends or family members. 

    Once you file a complaint for divorce or are served with a complaint for divorce, Supplemental Probate and Family Court Rule 411 (“Rule 411”) goes into effect and prohibits you from gifting assets to third parties. If you gift assets, the Court could find you in contempt, or you could receive fewer marital assets in the divorce to account for those gifts. Even … Keep reading

  • My Spouse Receives Stock Options as Part of Her Compensation Package. Will Stock Options Granted After Our Divorce Be Included in Income When Calculating Support?September 29, 2022

    Stock options granted to a party during a marriage are considered marital assets subject to property division upon divorce, even if the options vest after the parties are divorced. However, whether stock options that are issued after a divorce are treated as income once exercised when calculating support is less certain. The recent Appellate Court decision of Jones v. Jones, No. 20-P-1217 (September 14, 2022) suggests that they may – but it all depends upon the drafting of the divorce agreement and the – parties’ intent when entering into the divorce agreement. Divorce agreements, often called “Separation Agreements,” must have clear language regarding the definition of income, bonuses, stock options, and other forms of executive or deferred compensation.  Absent clear language that the vesting of stock options granted after a divorce is to be considered income when calculating support, that income may not be included when calculating support.

    An employer’s granting of stock options as executive compensation has become increasingly popular. This provides the employee with additional compensation and an incentive to stay with the employer long term (as the employee needs to be employed by the company when the stock options vest, sometimes years after the grant) … Keep reading

  • New Guidance on the Intersection of Alimony and Child SupportSeptember 08, 2022

    Divorce Law Monitor Blog Robin Lynch Nardone

    The Massachusetts alimony statute provides that when alimony is set, the court shall exclude from the calculation gross income which the court has already considered for setting a child support order.  Effectively, this has meant that for most divorcing parties with minor children, where the parties together make less than $400,000 per year, there is only a child support order but no alimony.  To the chagrin of many who spent years working on alimony reform, the Supreme Judicial Court has determined that the alimony statute does not mean what it says.

    In August 2022, in the case of Cavanagh v. Cavanagh, the SJC determined that a judge abused her discretion when she calculated child support and then, without conducting a fact-specific analysis of the family’s circumstances, denied the wife any alimony based upon the following language in G.L. c. 208 § 53(c)(2):

    When issuing an order for alimony, the court shall exclude from its income calculation: … gross income which the court has already considered for setting a child support order.

    The SJC held that a plain language interpretation of § 53(c)(2) resulting in alimony being nearly prohibited where child support has already been awarded is untenable. Further, … Keep reading

  • Mental Health During DivorceSeptember 02, 2022

    When you board an airplane, the flight attendant’s speech usually includes a welcome statement and requests that you securely fasten your seat belt. Then the attendant will alert you that if needed, oxygen masks will be released overhead and request that you secure your own mask before assisting others. Similar to an emergency plane landing, during a divorce, it is important to make sure to take care of yourself before helping others.

    Many clients ask at the outset of their case how to best protect their children in divorce. My answer usually stresses the importance of self-care for the client. After my client has put on their own oxygen mask and taken care of themselves, they will ultimately be able to assist their child best.

    As a family law attorney, it is my responsibility to shepherd clients through one of their most difficult situations – divorce. Divorce, for many, is the death of a dream. In this post, I’ve shared five tips that I recommend to clients going through a divorce.

    Tip #1: Engage a therapist or mental health professional.

    It is important to consider engaging a therapist to guide you through the roller-coaster of emotions associated with divorce. … Keep reading

  •  What Not to Do During a Divorce – Part 1August 11, 2022

    Catherine Spanu, Burns & Levinson

    A lot of emotions and impulses can arise during a divorce, and it’s critical to avoid any behavior that you may regret– including in the courtroom. What’s at stake? Credibility, time, money, custody, and peace of mind, to name a few. Below, read the top 10 behaviors to avoid during a divorce.

    1. Do not put anything in writing that you wouldn’t want to have read aloud in court.

      This means no harsh text messages or emails to your spouse, and no nasty messages to friends and family about your spouse either. If you are upset or overwhelmed and need to vent, speak to a therapist or other mental health professional, or, if this isn’t possible, a trusted friend or family member in a private location (and never vent to your children about their parent or stepparent).

    2. Do not put any tracking devices on your spouse’s car or electronics.

      Even if you suspect them of having an affair, installing tracking devices or spying on them or their friends will not produce any information that is valuable enough to risk your credibility in court. This type of behavior is frowned on by judges, and infidelity – without something else such as

    Keep reading

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