Susan Rossi Cook, Attorney and Mediator

Franklin Legal Blog

Massachusetts couples should understand property division

Knowing how property will be divided during divorce, and knowing what to anticipate, can help divorcing couples better plan for the property division process and prioritize their needs and concerns related to it. To begin with, divorcing couples in Massachusetts should understand that Massachusetts follows equitable division property division rules during divorce which calls for a fair division of property.

Secondly, only marital property is subject to division. Separate property is generally not subject to the property division process. In some circumstances, however, property may be commingled which can create property division complexities divorcing couples should be prepared to consider. Marital property is generally defined as property acquired during the marriage, while separate property is property one of the spouses entered the marriage with. Separate property can include gifts, inheritances, personal injury awards and some other types of property.

How do I get alimony during my divorce?

There are many divorce-related issues couples will need to resolve during their divorce but if you are seeking alimony, you may wonder how you can get it. There are different types of alimony and understanding what those are can help divorcing spouses determine if alimony will be granted.

While divorcing couples are sorting out divorce-related issues such as property division, child custody and child support, they will also need to resolve any request for alimony. If one spouse makes a request for alimony, the spouses can either agree or the family court may determine if alimony will be granted. One consideration if alimony is granted is how long it will be granted. The duration of alimony is based on the length of the marriage.

How mediation can help parents

Our justice system is adversarial by nature: Most cases pit one party against another, and the two sides take turns arguing why it is right and the other is wrong. The court listens to both sides and comes to a decision about how justice should be served.

When this method applies to a divorce case, it means pitting the spouses against each other, so that they can argue about who deserves what in the division of property. These arguments can get heated very quickly, and angry arguments can often lead to long-lasting resentments. It's bad enough when these resentments follow an argument over property, but when they involve young children, they can be harmful to everyone involved, especially the children. For this reason and others, mediation is often a better choice than trial for resolving family law issues involving children, especially child custody, or parenting, as it is known in Massachusetts law.

The impact of social media on your divorce

Social media can be a great way to stay connected with far-off friends and loved ones and to do career networking. But social media can have negative implications for some people — particularly those going through a divorce.

If you are a person who checks Facebook before even getting out of bed or sends a final tweet before drifting off each night, you may want to rethink your social media usage while in the throes of a contested divorce.

How are military benefits divided during divorce?

Knowing how military benefits will be divided during divorce may understandably be a top concern for divorcing couples when one or both spouses is in the military. Divorcing military couples should be familiar with both civil laws, which include divorce laws, and military regulations.

To understand how military benefits may be divided during the divorce process, it is helpful to look at different types of military benefits and answer the question as to how they will be divided. The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act provides for military retirement to be divided as marital property during the divorce process. The Act does not specify how the property will be divided but allows for it to be divided as part of the property division process during divorce.

How will our property be divided when we divorce?

Property division can be a top concern for divorcing couples during the divorce process. For that reason, it is important for divorcing couples to understand the property division process and to get answers to their questions such as which spouse will receive the family home.

In general, there are three categories of property the family law court will consider when making an equitable division of property in Massachusetts. In Massachusetts, property division is conducted according to equitable property division rules which requires property to be divided equitably but not necessarily in half. There are three categories of property that the court will consider when dividing the couple's property including marital property, separate property and any property that it needs to take a look at because it has been commingled.

Options for a more amicable divorce process

There are several steps divorcing couples can take if they want an amicable divorce process. A divorce that is not contentious can be more efficient, cost less money, take less time and be less costly emotionally as well. The mediation process can help divorcing couples avoid court and tradition divorce litigation.

Divorce is a significant transition process. Because it can also be so emotional, it can be difficult to handle all that divorcing spouses have to process. The family law system and divorce process are available to help. It is useful to initially establish grounds rules for the divorce transition process. Getting on the same page concerning the basics is important and then couples can begin working through their divorce-related issues.

Understanding the child custody process and options for parents

The subject of negotiating a child custody arrangement can be difficult for both divorcing parents. The good news is that the family law process provides options to help guide parents through the process, while allowing them to remain focused on the best interests of the child.

The court uses the best interest of the child standard to help it make child custody decisions. The family law court will evaluate a number of factors to determine what is in the best interests of the child. Parents are also encouraged to work together to reach a child custody agreement that involves both parents in the child's life. After a child custody arrangement is negotiated, agreed upon and finalized, life may change for the parents and child following the divorce.

Children need both Mom’s and Dad's parenting styles

One of the main reasons that it is important for both parents to stay involved with the children after divorce is simple: Mothers and fathers are different.

They treat the kids differently. They raise them differently. They have different parenting styles. And studies have shown that children need both of these styles.

The basics of division of retirement assets during divorce

When dividing retirement assets during divorce, there are some pitfalls divorcing spouses can fall into so it is helpful to be familiar with what they are. Child custody, child support and other concerns can already be challenging for divorcing couples who must still contend with property division concerns and dividing all their property, including retirement accounts.

Retirement accounts can represent a significant amount of a couple's assets. Without a thorough understanding of how to divide retirement assets, divorcing couples can fall prey to penalties, unanticipated tax consequences. In addition, without understanding assets and needs, divorcing couples may not properly prioritize their property division priorities which should help guide the process.

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Susan Rossi Cook, Attorney and Mediator

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Franklin, MA 02038

Phone: 508-507-8742
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