Do Durational Limits Apply to Cases That Were Resolved Before the Alimony Reform Act?

durational limitsThe Supreme Judicial Court’s recent decision of George v. George provides guidance in applying the durational limits contained in the Alimony Reform Act.

The Alimony Reform Act, which went into effect in March 2012, provides that all alimony awards that predate the Act are deemed “general term alimony.” Under G.L. c. 208, §49(b), general term alimony awards end on a date certain based upon the length of the marriage, except upon a written finding by the court that deviation beyond the time limits is required “in the interests of justice.”  Many alimony  payors who file complaints to terminate alimony based on the durational limit are met with the defense that it is in the interests of justice for alimony to continue beyond the durational limits. In the November 28, 2016 decision of George v. George, the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) sets forth guidelines for how a judge of the Probate and Family Court should apply the “interests of justice” standard.

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2016 Best Legal Blog Competition

Best Legal BlogHi there,

Our team of attorney bloggers takes great pride in bringing you important legal updates and helpful suggestions. We’re honored to have been nominated for The Expert Institute’s 2016 Best Legal Blog Competition! This election year, there have been some tough choices to make. We’re glad that out of hundreds of competitors, our readers nominated us!

If you find the Divorce Law Monitor blog to be a helpful resource, it is up to you to vote for something you can truly rely on. Best of all, it only takes a few clicks.

Vote here!

Thank you for your continued readership. We look forward to bringing new and interesting content to you.

This may be the easiest decision you have to make this November.

Best,
Nancy

Words of Wisdom from Nancy Van Tine

Nancy Van Tine

Commander in Chief of Divorce Law Monitor

You may know Nancy as the founder and editor of this terrific blog. Clients and colleagues know her as refreshingly honest, open, positive and tenacious – a challenging combination to find in this often contentious world of divorce law. Divorce is messy. Nancy always focuses on how to determine the best course of action for her client and the situation as a whole. She’s been a terrific role model for us all.

As a team, we’re proud to congratulate Nancy for being selected by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly as one of their “Top Women of Law” for her outstanding contributions to the legal profession. The award celebrates outstanding achievements made by exceptional women lawyers who are pioneers, educators, trailblazers, and role models.

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SJC Rules That a Biological Connection Is Not Required for Parentage

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) has ruled that a person may establish herself as a child’s presumptive parent without the need for a biological relationship to the child. The same-sex partner of a woman who gave birth to two children conceived via artificial insemination during their committed, but non-marital, relationship is entitled to the presumption that she is a legal parent of the children.

The Story Behind Partanen v. Gallagher

Karen Partanen and Julie Gallagher were in a committed relationship for 12 years, but never married. In 2005, they decided to start a family with a “shared intention of both being parents of the resulting children.” Partanen tried artificial insemination, but was unable to become pregnant. In 2007, Gallagher conceived a child using assistive reproductive technology and gave birth to a baby girl. In 2012, Gallagher gave birth to a son. Partanen did not adopt the children and never signed an “acknowledgment of parentage” form. This form would have given her legal status as the children’s parent.

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12 of the Most Common Divorce-Related Questions

divorce-related questions

You have questions. We have answers to at least 12 of them.

Hi there,

If you’re considering a divorce, prepare to face some of the most difficult questions of your life. The divorce process doesn’t have to be a minefield of uncertainty, though. Some of the most common mistakes are also the most avoidable, as long as you have the right direction.

Join my colleague, attorney Michael (Mick) Judge for an inside look at the divorce process. He’ll touch on pre-divorce considerations (including pre-nuptial agreements, divorce mediation and marriage counseling), the divorce process, and post-divorce matters (including modifications and contempt actions). A financial advisor will join him to address many of the pressing financial implications of your divorce.

What: The ABC’s of Divorce: Now is the time to begin your education…

When: Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Where: Burns and Levinson LLP, 125 Summer Street, Boston, MA

Cost: Registration is complimentary through this link.

Starting right at the beginning, Mick will walk you through some of the key issues involved in a standard divorce case.

  1. How is a divorce case started?
  2. What types of divorces are there?
  3. How are child custody cases handled?
  4. What is the role of a guardian ad litem?
  5. How is child support calculated?
  6. What constitutes marital property and how is it divided?
  7. How are debts divided?
  8. Am I entitled to, or will I have to pay, spousal support?
  9. Who pays for health and life insurance?
  10. How do we file our taxes?
  11. Can I make my spouse pay for my lawyer?
  12. When and how does a divorce become final?

We’ll be doing a follow-up blog series to answer these questions, but don’t miss the chance to discuss these topics in person!

Best,
Nancy

How to Choose the Right Divorce Attorney for You

how to choose the right attorney

Hi there,

People have very strong opinions on whether to hire a divorce attorney. One friend may tell you, “Oh I didn’t use an attorney, and it was fine.” Another may say, “My attorney was terrible, the ex got everything!” Don’t let others’ experiences with divorce solely guide your decision when hiring legal counsel for your separation.

Many people think it’ll be easier if they don’t bring lawyers into the picture. They think they can save money, or allow the divorce to be less contentious. But even if you’re going to negotiate directly with your spouse or use a mediator, you still need to double check everything with an attorney. You don’t have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars or drag your spouse into years of litigation, quite the opposite. Double-checking with an attorney can probably save you legal headaches down the road. They can provide more valuable information than you will ever find from google. Guidance on protecting your digital assets, new changes in alimony laws, rights you may not know about or complex processes to avoid.

Every situation is unique. If you have kids or complicated assets, you might need a top shelf divorce attorney. Make sure you have appropriate legal advice any time there is a concern of physical, mental or substance abuse. If there’s a family-owned business or trust involved, things get complicated quickly. However, in many routine cases, you can get terrific representation from a junior partner or associate. With the right plan in place, you should be able to find an attorney you can afford that will weigh in with the appropriate amount of advice needed for your situation.

Be Prepared

If you haven’t been involved in your family’s finances because the other spouse handles them, get to know your budget. You will likely need to bring in a financial advisor to help you sort through the bank accounts, retirement accounts, investments, credit cards, mortgages and liabilities. This will help you determine how much you can afford for a divorce attorney.

Use your network of trusted family, friends and coworkers to ask pointed questions about divorce lawyers friends or acquaintances have used. Don’t be afraid to google the attorney’s name to learn more about them. A reputable attorney will likely have a profile on sites like LinkedIn, Martindale Hubbell or Avvo.

Plan to interview a few prospective lawyers to find the right fit. Some attorneys charge a fee for this initial consultation, some don’t. The consultation usually lasts about an hour. Make sure you come prepared with all the information and documentation possible. Most of all, your divorce attorney should be someone you feel comfortable talking to and discussing all aspects of your case with.

Best,
Nancy

2016 Best Legal Blog Competition Nominations

best law blogIf you find the Divorce Law Monitor blog to be helpful, we could use your assistance with something! Please indulge us as we ask for a quick favor. The Expert Institute is accepting nominations for the 2016 Best Legal Blog Competition, an annual list of the 100 best legal blogs. If Divorce Law Monitor is a good resource for you, we would be grateful for your nomination! The more nominations a blog receives, the more likely it is to be included in the contest, so every vote counts.

Submit here!

The nomination form, which asks for your contact information and a quick sentence or two about why you’re fan of the blog, will take just a couple minutes to fill out.

Nominations are due by September 5th at 12:00am (EDT). Thank you so much for the support!

Best,
Nancy

It’s Back to School Time Again!

back to school coparentingHi there,

Despite the oppressive heat, it’s almost back to school time again. By this point in the summer most parents are pretty ready for school to begin. One of the best ways to make the school year smoother for your kids is to plan ahead with your coparent! Firm up a schedule as much as you can before the school year begins. There are a variety of apps available that are useful to help divorced parents mutually handle their schedules.

Make sure to include the following on your mutual planning calendar:

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Military Pensions Could See Significant Changes

military pensions

Pending Federal legislation could have a huge impact on how judges will divide military pensions during a divorce. In a previous post, I discussed at length how military pension plans currently could be divided in the context of a Massachusetts divorce matter. Massachusetts Probate and Family Court judges generally have the discretion to either divide a pension as an asset or to divide the income resulting from the plan “if, as, and when” it entered pay status.

If the parties agree to (or if the Family Court Judge elects) the “if, as and when” approach, the service member’s pension pay would be divided between the service member and the former spouse based on the rank and years of service of the service member at the time of retirement. However, the pending federal legislation proposed by Representative Steve Russell would instead direct state judges to divide military pensions based on the rank and years of service at the time of the divorce. The enactment of such a bill would hugely influence the retirement pension payments of both retired service members and their former spouses.

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