Top 10 Tips for Social Media Use When Divorcing

social media blog

Hi there,

Social media can become very problematic in a divorce case. Divorce lawyers, myself included, consider it a treasure trove of potentially useful information.We can obtain your online credentials and passwords in a contested matter so it all becomes fair game.

Here are my top ten tips for being safe on social media during your divorce:

1.If you can bear to, and I know some of you can’t, deactivate all of your social media accounts, this includes Facebook, Reddit, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and any other social media accounts you may have.

2. Do not delete any material you have previously posted. This seems counterintuitive but it is very important as there are strict rules about not disposing of potential evidence.

3. If you do not deactivate your accounts, and in some cases even if you deactivate them, immediately make sure all of your accounts have the highest privacy settings possible.

4. It’s important, as my grandmother used to tell me, to not write anything you wouldn’t want to see on the front page of the Times!  Remember anything you post can end up in Court, benign is the only way to go, think cute cat pictures and that’s it.

5. Unfriend and block anyone who you think might share information with your spouse.

6. Do not friend or accept any friend requests from anyone unless you are absolutely sure of who they are and that they pose no risk of communicating with your spouse.

7. Do not post videos or pictures of yourself or your kids, and don’t let anyone tag you or post pictures either.

8. Do not, ever, ever,ever, criticize your spouse or kids online.

9. Unless you need to for business purposes do not participate in blogs, chat rooms or message boards.

10. Do not forget to change all your passwords, immediately and at least monthly thereafter.

and think of all the spare time you will have with no Facebook!

Best,

Nancy

Pets: Considered Property or People During a Divorce?

zeus horse divorce pets

Zeus probably has strong opinions about being considered property rather than one of the family.

Hi there,

If you know me, you know I’m a fervent pet lover. We have dogs, cats, horses, goats, and are related to someone with a bearded dragon. I know, viscerally, how pets can feel like family members. As a result, they can be incredibly important to someone in the middle of a divorce. I also know, as does anyone who has befriended an animal, that animals have needs, wants and opinions of their own. However, the law has been pretty clear that pets are considered property, like a chair or lamp, during a divorce.

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Reflecting on 2016 and Preparing for 2017

Hi there,2016 2017 New year change concept

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday, despite what may be trying circumstances. Throughout the year there were many changes and clarifications in basic divorce law that will affect the many of you that are planning to divorce in 2017. This period between Christmas and New Years is what I consider the calm before the storm, as January is generally a very busy month for divorce lawyers. This quiet week is the perfect opportunity to both reflect on the past and prepare for the future. Below is a list of blog posts that explain the recent changes to divorce law and what those changes mean for you.

As we say goodbye to 2016, I wish each of you a happy and healthy new year. See you in 2017!

2016 Changes and Clarifications to Divorce Law

SJC Rules That a Biological Connection Is Not Required for Parentage

Spouse’s Trust Interest Shielded from Division in Divorce

Potential Changes to Interstate Custody Dispute Law in Massachusetts

Definition of Cohabitation Set in Recent Alimony Reform Act Interpretation

New Changes to the Parent Education Program in Massachusetts

Best,
Nancy

This Holiday Season, Let Go of the Salad Spinner

salad spinner

Nobody wants a salad spinner THAT much.

Hi there,

I was somewhat surprised a couple of weeks ago to be asked for an interview by the talented Globe writer, Cindy Atoji Keene. It was published on Sunday, and reading it made me realize just how important it is to be able to let go of that “salad spinner” and focus on what’s truly important in the end game in a divorce.

There’s a salad spinner in every case — it could be the cat, the couch, or whether the kids come to visit at 5:30 or 6:30 p.m. Imagine fighting over a stuffed parrot, horse semen, or geese. These were all expensive court battles that I was involved in, and it all comes down to control.

I like to call it the Salad Spinner War, after one of my first cases that involved a short-term marriage with a wealthy Brahmin gentleman and his younger wife from abroad. We came to a fair division of assets and property, and because I was young and stupid, I agreed to go to the house to help divvy up miscellaneous items. We went through the antiques, oriental rugs, lamps, and furniture, and then came to the kitchen, where they started arguing over a $15 salad spinner. They fought vehemently, and my client finally won, but when we left, she thrust the salad spinner at me and said, ‘I didn’t want the damn thing, anyway.’ But I love running into someone five to 10 years down the road and seeing them happy and moved on in life. – The Boston Globe

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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

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