Susan Rossi Cook, Attorney and Mediator

Franklin Legal Blog

Property division is an important element of a divorce

No matter how hard a Massachusetts resident tries, they will inevitably accumulate stuff over the course of their life. That stuff can take on many different forms, from small possessions like articles of clothing and books, to large items like personal vehicles and furniture. Depending upon how they have chosen to invest their money, they may also own a home or other real property.

Massachusetts residents can own their possessions and property separately as individuals or jointly with their spouses. The state follows the laws of equitable distribution, which means that martial property that is owned by the parties to divorce will be divided up in a manner that is fair given the circumstances of their case. Fairness may dictate different property division outcomes for different divorces.

Grounds for divorce in Massachusetts

Not every relationship that is formalized in a marriage will stand the test of time. Though some Massachusetts couples will find lasting happiness with their spouses, others will decide that their lives will be better off if they end their legal relationships. In Massachusetts, there are many grounds on which individuals may base their divorce pleadings which include both fault and no-fault foundations.

A no-fault divorce is effectively one in which the parties to a marriage decide that they no longer want to be connected through their legal bond. They may disagree on important relationship matters, but at the heart of their divorce there is no culpability that rests solely on one of the parties. This type of divorce in Massachusetts is based on the grounds of an irretrievable breakdown.

How is child custody decided in Massachusetts?

It can be hard on parents to work out the details of their child custody matters when they are in the process of ending their marriage. During divorce proceedings, parents may work together to settle the scheduling and responsibilities of raising their children. If they are unable to make decisions regarding the custody of their kids, they can turn to the court to work out those details.

When a court decides matters of child custody, it attempts to protect the best interests of the children who will be affected by the decisions. This means that the court must look at many factors that are specific to each case. Those factors can relate to the parents, kids, and the dynamics that exist between them.

Mediation benefits: Mediation can be the right choice for you

Mediation is a type of alternative dispute resolution that can be helpful in resolving conflict. If you and your spouse are going through a divorce and have trouble agreeing with one another, it could be the right answer to your problems.

Mediation is not the same as having someone tell you what to do, and it isn't designed to solve all your relationship problems. Instead, mediation focuses on resolving specific disputes and teaching you ways to interact with another in more helpful ways.

Should I bring my attorney to a divorce mediation?

The answer to this question really depends on a number of factors. For one, the judge or the mediator may have a strong preference that attorneys not be present or, for that matter, that they attend the mediation.

Likewise, the attorneys themselves may have reasons why they should or should not attend.

The status of legal separation in Massachusetts

Unlike other states, our state does not recognize legal separation. In this state, if a married couple wishes to live apart and have the legal protection of an order dividing their property and providing for child custody and the like, then they will have to file for a divorce.

Of course, they are free to use divorce mediation and other techniques to make the affair as cooperative and as friendly as possible. They may wish to do so for a number of reasons, such as for the good of their children.

Thoughts on whether to keep the marital home

Oftentimes, among a Massachusetts couple's most valuable assets is their marital residence. Real estate remains a good and reliable investment these days, which means couples who have been together a number of years will have a lot of equity rolled up in their homes.

Likewise, owning a home comes with valuable tax incentives and, for those who have mortgage payments, a built in means of saving up wealth. Finally, one cannot overlook the non-economic benefits of owning a home, especially when one has children.

What is parallel parenting?

The idea behind co-parenting is that, even if the parents themselves have parted ways, they agree to maintain a civil and cordial relationship when it comes to raising their children and making important decisions about them.

Co-parenting requires that the two parents communicate effectively and cooperate with each other. While this is an ideal, for many couples, emotional baggage, conflict or even a history of abuse can make it difficult, if not dangerous, to maintain a close relationship.

More on family business assets and divorce

A previous post on this blog talked about how Massachusetts couples who own a family business together and who are going through divorce have to make some important decisions. Sometimes, couples who have never been married may face similar issues.

One of the biggest decisions is whether they will continue to operate the business together. Assuming that the couple is not going operate the business together, then they will have to explore several other options.

3 tips to help children feel at home in 2 houses

Children who have to learn how to live across two homes have some big adjustments to go through. This can be a challenging time, but it is likely a bit easier if they are able to count on their parents to help them. You will probably find that helping them to adjust makes your life better since you may be able to enjoy your time with them more.

You have to consider your child's age and maturity when helping them with the transition. One thing that may be beneficial is to have a solid parenting plan that provides consistency for the kids.

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Susan Rossi Cook, Attorney and Mediator


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