HERE’S MY BEST ADVICE:
IF you can negotiate through conversation (using collaborative law, mediation or any dispute resolution protocol that works for you and your family) keep in mind that, you are better able to participate in the decisions about alimony (instead of having a judge decide). You should still, of course, always work with your attorney to learn about Massachusetts Divorce Law (MGL Chapter 208).
The Massachusetts Alimony Reform Act of 2011, which went into effect on March 1, 2012, changed existing alimony law. Now, judges of the Probate and Family Court in Massachusetts have been granted the ability to address the issue of the duration of alimony. Now the duration (length) of alimony is tied to the duration (length) of the marriage itself.
In addition, the new Act defines the ‘termination’ of alimony - usually at the ‘full retirement age’ of the paying person, and also upon certain ‘co-habitation’ situations, among other times - and also gives guidance to when a payor can ask a Court for modification of a current alimony order
In my practice, I always talk with my clients (either as an attorney, a mediator, a parenting coordinator or as settlement counsel) about how the children are the most important people in the room, even though they are not physically present; often we put a photo of the children in the middle of the negotiating table to remind us all.
A divorcing family will need a Co-Parenting Plan, a schedule that works best for the children, for the ‘best interests of the children’, as required by Massachusetts law. Some families can decide on a great Co-Parenting Plan by themselves, and some need some guidance from attorneys or mediators or parenting coordinators or divorce coaches.
A divorcing family will also have to figure out if one parent will pay another Child Support, according to the Child Support Guidelines (unless otherwise allowed), which is designed to provide he children with the basics of an appropriate life. In addition to this Child Support, children must have an physical address, so often the family will designate a “primary parent’. These details can be discussed, planned and finalized in negotiations.
For more information, see:
During a divorce, the family must decide how to divide the ‘marital estate’ (which contains all the ‘stuff’, real property and personal property and money of all kinds, that has accumulated during the time of the marriage. Guidelines for the Division of Assets are listed in Massachusetts General Law Chaper 208, section 34, which gives judges guidance on how to divide up all of this ‘stuff’. The judge will, of course, decide about this ‘stuff’ only the and if the family itself cannot converse and negotiate (especially with the guidance of a great team of professionals), so the choice is up to the family how to approach the whole division issue.
Generally, the division of assets is tied to the length of the marriage, and aims to be ‘fair and equitable’. ‘Fair and equitable’, of course, is defined differently for each divorcing family, so a consultation with a family attorney will help you explore the possibilities for your family.
See MA Chapter 208 (Divorce) at http://www.malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartII/TitleIII/Chapter208
Or call Paula H. Noe (617-658-2913) for a free initial consultation and conversation about the possibilities for your family.