Hi there,

I keep getting sidetracked from the 10 Steps In The Divorce Process by breaking news stories and I have to admit this one (Mel Gibson’s divorce) is a bit tacky!

Admittedly when Mel Gibson married he could have had no idea as to how phenomenally successful he was going to be. He also, given his very public religious convictions, probably did not anticipate a divorce, but still…

Most states, including Massachusetts, recognize the validity of prenuptial agreements.  Mr Gibson hails from Australia, so perhaps at the time he married it was not an option; but here and now if there are, or may be, considerable assets, a prenup is a good thing. Prenups are important to consider if you or your spouse is marrying for the second time and there are children of the first marriage; if there is an inheritance expected in the future; if one party or the other has an interest in a family business. Prenups cannot decide anything regarding children but pretty much everything else can be dealt with.

I do have a warning, or perhaps caution is a better word, prenups do require partners to talk about finances but the process can … Keep reading

Hi there,

Since last week I have been thinking about the legal implications of the gay marriage decision in Vermont and found that it raises more questions than I had initially considered.  These relate specifically to the impact of marriage on a state which allowed civil unions.  This raises the issue of will the civil union be deemed a marriage thus increasing the length of the marriage and having impact upon divorce on all sorts of issues from custody thru finances?  There also may be issues because if the state now treats civil unions as marriages then if one party to the civil union marries someone else without dissolving the civil union, is that bigamy?

Clearly this will be very complex and interesting as it unfolds.

Best,

Nancy… Keep reading

Hi there,

Absent a trial (and at least 95% of all divorce cases settle without one) a deposition is often the only time the parties to a divorce testify under oath.  It is one of the most effective tools the lawyers have, both to find out what has really gone on and to discover what kind of a witness their client and the other side will be.  Any good attorney will spend time with the client preparing him for the deposition. A while ago I came across a really good description in the Missouri Divorce & Family Law Blog.

Then yesterday a buddy of mine sent me the following insane video as to what not to do at a deposition. It rates as the most incredible piece of bad lawyering I’ve ever seen.

Best,

Nancy… Keep reading

Hi there,

Discovery is the point in the process where the attorneys, using various legal tools, are able to quantify just what is going on financially, as well as with other concerns, such as custody or parenting issues.

The first financial discovery tools are the Rule 410 production and the financial statement, both of which are described in a prior post. Once those have been exchanged, the attorneys usually move on to Requests for Production of Documents (RPD) which are expansions on the Rule 410 production. If yours is a case where there are business valuation issues or a need for a forensic accountant (more on those in later posts) then those experts will chime in here with a request for the documents they will need.

At the same time as the RPD is sent out, the attorneys often will exchange Interrogatories, which are a limited series of questions to be answered under oath. Generally the lawyers also ask what are called Expert Interrogatories, where we request information from the experts and their reports so that both sides know what all of the valuations are. These experts can range from real estate appraisers, business … Keep reading

Hi there,
 
In my last post I mentioned the Family Service Office of the Probate Court.  That is the department which is tasked with getting litigants to settle their cases. Most cases do settle, which is a good thing as the system would otherwise be totally overwhelmed. It is also a good thing for the parties, as an agreement in which you have had some say is generally better than one which is imposed on you. 
 
Even if it is costly to get there, an agreement is less expensive than trying your case and it has a better chance of being final as well.  One of the best ways in terms of cost and civility to reach an agreement is through mediation.  This is what the Family Service Officers do and here is a good explanation of non Court mandated mediation from Partner Robin Lynch Nardone who has extensive experience in family law mediation:
 
Resolution of a divorce or other family law matter without extensive litigation in the court is possible. Mediation is a voluntary process that invites people to come to agreement through informed negotiation with the assistance of a neutral third party. Mediation gives the Keep reading

Hi There,

Along with many folks my age I have been watching the news regarding Chris Brown and Rhianna with a jaded sense of "here we go again, another classic case of domestic violence playing itself out in the media."  Then the other night I heard a truly terrifying statistic – a poll of 200 Boston area teens revealed over half of them believed that Rhianna was at fault.

Domestic violence is real and the victims are NOT at fault . Oprah (no guys, I don’t watch her someone told me about it) had a good show on this last week. 

If you are a victim of domestic violence here are some useful links where you can find help:

Massachusetts has an excellent violence protection statute too.

May you never need these links,

Best,

Nancy… Keep reading

After the defendant has been served or has entered an appearance, one or both parties usually file a motion asking the court for temporary orders. These deal with important issues such as:
• Who has to move out
• Who has physical custody of the kids (where they live)
• Who has legal custody of the kids (who chooses their doctor)
• Visitation issues (parenting plan)
• Spousal support and/or child support
• Other financial issues such as who pays the mortgage, medicals bills, tuition, etc.
Obviously, these are all compelling and important issues which differ widely from family to family. If the issues can be resolved between the parties, or the parties and their lawyers, then their agreement can be brought to court in the form of a joint stipulation which the judge will (usually) approve and adopt as a court order. The judge will send the parties to Family Service to mediate unresolved issues. Issues remaining after mediation will be decided by the Judge after hearing from both sides.
Before going to Court your attorney should help you prepare a financial statement (there are two – for those with income over $75k and for those with income Keep reading

Hi there,
 
When the complaint for divorce is filed the automatic restraining order on assets immediately applies to the filing party and as soon as the other side is served with the complaint the restraining order likewise then applies to him or her.
 
The purpose behind this is to maintain the status quo so people won’t hide or spend beyond what is normally reasonable. It is not intended to prevent someone who has been managing the couple’s finances from continuing to trade in the ordinary way and thus hopefully to protect assets. AND…because most legislators are lawyers and lawyers can be counted on to take care of themselves, it allows both parties to spend marital assets (and at this point and throughout the divorce ALL assets are considered marital assets) on divorce attorneys.
It also keeps the family’s insurance provisions in place.
 
In my experience Judges take violations of this very seriously, so be very mindful of the restraining order throughout the divorce process.
 
NancyKeep reading