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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Spouse’s Trust Interest Shielded from Division in Divorce

trust shieldHi there,

I continue to be amazed by the distinguished group of divorce and probate lawyers I have the privilege to work with at Burns & Levinson. Today’s decision on Pfannenstiehl v. Pfannenstiehl, a case which will guide family financial planning across the country, is a credit to their hard work and dedication. We’re proud to bring you part two of this story which our contributor Tiffany Bentley brought to our attention back in April. This case was deemed “unwinnable” by many, so it is hugely important to our client as well as a celebrated achievement for our team.

Best,
Nancy


Almost exactly four months ago, I blogged with great pride about the compelling arguments from my colleague, Bob O’Regan, to the Supreme Judicial Court in the matter of Pfannenstiehl v. Pfannenstiehl. Today, I blog with even greater pride about the SJC’s unanimous decision in our client’s favor.

In Pfannenstiehl, initially both the Trial Court and the Appeals Court went to great lengths to ensure that the wife would benefit from an irrevocable trust established by her (now former) husband’s father. The husband had no access to or control over the trust. Assets and income were held for the benefit of the children, grandchildren, and more remote descendants of the husband’s father; 11 beneficiaries in total at the time of trial. Distributions to any one or more of the beneficiaries could be made only in the discretion of the trustees. Still, the Trial Court determined, and the Appeals Court affirmed, that the husband’s interest in the trust was subject to valuation and division as a marital asset. The Trial Court further determined, and the Appeals Court affirmed, that the wife was entitled to receive 60% of the value of the husband’s interest. The husband was ordered to make 24 monthly payments of $48,699.77 to the wife to buy out her share. Keep in mind that the husband had no right to access or demand funds from the trust itself to make these payments.

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