Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines – Effective August 1, 2013

Massachusetts has revised the Child Support Guidelines with the new guidelines taking effect on August 1, 2013. The guidelines adjust the formula for child support and provides judges with more use of their discretion and takes into account the parenting plan.

Read the new Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines.

Divorce and the Business Owner: Protecting the Business

Some marriages may last for decades, others just a few years. No matter how long a marriage lasts, divorce can have a profound effect on a business, unless the business owner took steps ahead of time to minimize the impact of divorce.

One of the best ways to minimize the impact is with a prenuptial agreement. In the event of divorce, a prenuptial agreement can prove invaluable in protecting a business and its assets. Massachusetts considers a variety of factors when deciding how to divide a marital estate, and a prenuptial agreement can help protect a business that would not otherwise be protected. In order to ensure that a prenuptial agreement will be upheld, it is important to consider the following factors:

  • Both parties should enter into the agreement willingly.  Neither party should feel pressured to accept the terms of the agreement.
  • Full financial disclosure must take place on both sides.  This includes an exchange of financial information including assets, liabilities, salary, etc.
  • Both parties should have their own attorneys, or be given the opportunity to seek independent legal advice.
  • The terms of the agreement must be fair and reasonable at the time of execution and at the time enforcement is sought. [Read more…]

How Do Divorce Modifications Work In Massachusetts?

At the time of your divorce, you likely address issues regarding child support, custody, health insurance, college education costs, and division of property. However, not all agreements and judgments contemplate the future, or others go through changes that warrant alterations to an original agreement or judgment. This is why some people need to return to court to modify prior agreements or judgments. It is important to learn how these modifications work.

Change of Circumstances

One of the most important things to know is that you must have a material change of circumstances to return to court regarding a modification. This change of circumstances can equal a major move, a job change that affects the current custody arrangement or a change in income which affects a support order. Talk to a qualified attorney first to determine if your circumstances warrant a modification to avoid unnecessary time in court.

What Can Be Modified?

The Separation Agreement dictates what provisions may be modified in the future.  These provisions are known as merging.  The most common provisions of an agreement that merge are child related issues, health insurance, and possibly alimony.  Provisions that do not merge are called surviving provisions.  Surviving provisions are not modifiable, even due to a change in circumstances.  The most common surviving provision in an Agreement is the property division. [Read more…]

We’re getting divorced and grandparents want visitation too.

Additional Information:

My husband and I are getting divorced after an 8 year marriage. We’ve agreed to try to keep a sense of normalcy for our 3 young children, so they will live most of the time with me in our home in Sherborn but we haven’t yet come to an agreement about when they will stay with their dad and both sets of grandparents want to see the kids too. Is this something that can get written into the divorce agreement?

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

Yes, although it isn’t typical to provide for grandparent visitation in a Separation Agreement, if you can agree on it then you can include it.  Visitation scheduled can be as detailed and specific as necessary.  [Read more…]

I’d like to buy a house. Can I get additional support from my ex?

Additional Information:

Can the provisions of a divorce be changed after finalization?  My ex and I have been divorced for almost 6 years, and I’d like to buy a home in Framingham for myself and our kids and would like additional support from my ex. What is the process and is it difficult?

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

You can always petition the court to modify child related provisions of the Separation Agreement post-divorce upon a change in circumstances by filing a Complaint for Modification.  In your case, your ex-husband’s income would need to have increased since the divorce, resulting in a higher child support order, in order to prevail on a Complaint for Modification. [Read more…]

Who is responsible for the water damage? Landlord or tenants?

Additional  Information:

I am a landlord in Sudbury and one of our tenants reported water and damage in the basement.  When I came to check it out, I discovered that they moved the washing machine (that is provided for their use) and thus the leak and damage.  As the landlord am I required to pay the repairs or are the tenants?  There’s nothing about this in the lease.   Thanks in advance.

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

The tenant is responsible for damage caused by the tenant.  However the proof of something like this can be difficult without someone knowledgeable about that appliance testifying as to the cause of the leak.  I never know why my washing machine is leaking.  [Read more…]

Did my tenants abandon the property? Will I ever get the past due rent paid?

Additional Information:

I’m a landlord of a 3 family in Marlborough.  One of the tenants has failed to make any payment for four months. On arrival to the property to give an eviction notice, no one was there. The property surrounding the house was full of the tenant’s property and there was trash and moldy food in the kitchen.  I talked to the neighbors and they said the tenants had left two weeks prior. The gas and electric were shut off.   So since they essentially abandoned the property, as a landlord do I have the right to dispose of the abandoned property? And do I have any hope of collecting the 4 months rent?

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

The first question is whether the tenant has terminated the tenancy.  There are reported cases where the landlord assumed the tenant had abandoned, only to find out later that the tenant was in rehab, or incarcerated.  The neighbors are not a reliable source of whether someone has moved out.  If the tenant has not returned the keys, then it is better to assume they still have legal possession and bring an action to terminate the tenancy.  You do not have a right to dispose of the tenant’s property.  There is an eviction storage law that requires certain steps to be taken.  The landlord should secure the property and bring it into compliance with the sanitary code, but should not lock out the tenants.  So long as the amount of rent due is less than the small claims dollar limit, an action can be brought in small claims court to try and collect the back rent.  [Read more…]

We were divorcing amicably but now his lawyer is stating negative things about me.

Additional Information:

I am in the middle of a divorce and my husband and I are on amicable terms for the most part. We agreed on joint custody of our 5 year old daughter, and that I’d stay in our Wayland home with her.   His lawyer recently sent me papers but stated quite a few things that my spouse is saying he never said. Including things like I am mentally cruel, and neglectful of duty. I am going to hire a divorce attorney soon but was wondering does it seems like his lawyer is setting it up to ask for sole custody, should I do the same?

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

Your lawyer will file an answer to the Complaint for Divorce to address the claims made by your Husband’s attorney.  Some attorneys include more than what their client is asking for in the Complaint for Divorce to cover all bases.  That will not prohibit you and your husband to agreeing to something different.  [Read more…]

When we divorce, will I be liable for half of my ex-wife’s recent school loan?

Additional Information:

My wife and I are getting divorced.  She took out a loan so she could go back to school, get a job and contribute to the mortgage payments on our Sherborn home.  She hasn’t finished the program so technically the “community” hasn’t benefited from her going to school.  Will I be liable for half of the loan?

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

All liabilities, including school loans, will be either be divided or assigned to one party.  The court considers a number of factors including the nature of the loan (i.e. whether it was a joint loan, or a loan used for joint or individual expenses).  You will not necessarily be responsible for half of the loan.  [Read more…]

Do I need to wait for the divorce to be final to create a new will?

Additional Information:

My husband and I are getting divorced. We have pretty much figured out how to handle the finances, custody and parenting schedule, and I got the house in Ashland, so now I’m thinking about how to go about creating a new will, and other new documents such as power of attorney.  My husband had taken care of all that and I want to have all these matters squared away.  Do I need to wait for the divorce to be final to start working on these documents?

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

Yes.  Once the divorce is final, it is always wise to revisit your estate plan.  You should consider having a new will, health care proxy, and power of attorney prepared.    [Read more…]