In most divorce agreements there are a number of standard provisions (often called “boilerplate”).
The most important of these provisions are:
1. The ability of the parties to have separate wills – this covers the right of both parties to exclude the other from their estate plans
2. Waiver of future claims – this generally says that except as written in the agreement neither party has any claim against the other.
3. Personal freedom to live your own life – this is not a restraining order but it is put into all agreements. I think it may stem back to the days when women were treated like property and needed a recitation of their ability to live on their own.
4. Completeness of this agreement – this basically says the agreement is the agreement and side deals do NOT count; so, if your soon-to-be-ex promises you something, but says he won’t put it in the agreement and to just “trust me” – don’t.
Then there should be a provision about how to handle future disputes. Are you going to require trying to mediate first? Or are you going to simply say that the court is where future … Keep reading
Here is the first topic in the series: Top 10 Topics to Consider When Getting Divorced.
If you have kids who aren’t grown up, then this can be the most difficult area to navigate. You will want to consider all of the topics in A and B below, and you may need to consider the topics in C, D and E as well.
A. Legal custody, joint vs. sole, what legal custody means; who makes major decisions such as health, religion, education, moral development; and/or emergency decisions?
Most folks end up with joint legal custody, which actually is presumed to be the default format in Massachusetts. Joint legal custody means that the parents need to communicate, and hopefully agree on the major decisions listed above. This can be very hard in a high conflict situation, and impossible in a situation involving violence, mental health or substance abuse issues. In fact, the state is asking people who are getting divorced because they can’t communicate, to continue to communicate about their children.
I have the utmost respect for those who manage sometimes after the divorce is done, to step back, take themselves out of the equation and … Keep reading
I recently received a question from a reader regarding narcissism and narcissistic partners. I initially intended to reply to her privately, but as I thought about my response, I realized that there was enough "meat" here to share in a post to all.
"Christie Brinkley seems to have been in the news a bit lately with her divorce. I have been struck by her comments on a narcissistic partner, and wonder since I think that is the case with my ex, how often it is that one spouse is a narcissist and what can be done to get through to one rationally. Is there any hope of co-parenting with a narcissist? Any thoughts or comments on this celeb. case would be helpful. Thanks!"
Narcissists are very nasty people but charming too. A lot of them end up in divorce because no one can worship them enough, and all the air is theirs, not their spouse’s.
No divorce lawyer should be without her copy of "DSM-IV" (aka Diagnostic And Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition). According to this "bible", written by the American Psychiatric Association, the diagnostic criteria for Narcissistic Personality … Keep reading
As Massachusetts considers refining the law on alimony, the public commentary is huge. It has made me think through exactly what I think about the current law and the proposed changes. I have initially addressed this in the blog, as I recognize that making alimony payments (or not making them) is one of the truly hard and hot button issues in divorce. There are both payers and payees who have been deeply hurt and aggrieved by the system. Most of these individuals may well find this post unpalatable. As I think about that, I am not sure anyone finds having to pay alimony a good thing. It is however, often a necessary evil, and as an advocate if I represent the spouse who is paying, I try to get the amount and time frame as minimal as possible. Alternatively, when I am the advocate for the recipient, I try to get the amount and time frame as broad as possible. That is the joy of being a litigator – you get to argue both sides of every question, sometimes on the same day.
Joking aside, I firmly believe that setting parameters for judges to follow and then … Keep reading