Good for you.  That is the first positive sign that you and your spouse may be able to resolve all of your divorce issues amicably.

There are MANY ways to resolve your divorce issues amicably, and at Ryan Faenza Carey we can do all forms of dispute resolution—mediation, collaborative law, conciliation, arbitration, settlement with counsel, and litigation (if all else fails).  Four of our seven attorneys are certified in mediation. 

At Ryan Faenza Careyall efforts are focused on reaching an agreement, regardless of the method used.  We resolve 98% of our cases and have over 100 years of combined experience doing so.   

Call us today.  Speak with one of our attorneys.  Find out if you are a candidate for mediation or some other form of dispute resolution and make an appointment to begin. 

Over the years, I have helped many of my clients, friends and acquaintances receive social security benefits from a divorced spouse they had no idea they were entitled to (this applies to a present spouse as well). Here is what you need to know–that social security isn’t going to necessarily tell you—unless you ask.

If you were married for 10 years or longer, you have a choice of receiving benefits under your own work record, or one-half the benefit under the work record of your former spouse, even if your former spouse has remarried. The benefit under your former spouse’s work record may be higher than your own.

If you receive benefits under your former spouse’s work record, it has no effect on the benefits your former spouse or his/her new spouse receives.

If you were born before January 2, 1954 and have already reached your full social security retirement age, you can receive benefits under your ex-spouse’s record, while delaying and growing your own social security benefit. You can then switch over to your own benefit at a much higher amount later on.

If your former spouse is deceased, you may be entitled to social security survivor benefits.

What do you have to lose? Social security benefits are a substantial retirement benefit. You (and your former spouse) have undoubtedly paid significant social security taxes over the years. Get what your entitled to. Make an appointment without delay and find out your rights. Ask questions. You have a right to know.

What is a prenuptial agreement?

In Massachusetts, you are free to contract with your fiancé about what your marital rights are in the event of death or divorce.   Effectively this means prior to marriage you and your spouse plan out what happens if you divorce or die.  While this forces a happy couple to have difficult discussions prior to marriage, it can be a positive experience for the couple. 

Prenuptial agreements are popular for individuals who are remarrying to preserve an inheritance for their children of a previous relationship.  They are also useful in preserving family wealth or wealth accumulated prior to the marriage.  However, prenuptial agreements are also beneficial for practical couples who want to discuss their financial expectations.

Can my fiancé and I hire one lawyer to draft the prenuptial agreement?

When a party signs a prenuptial agreement, he or she is waiving certain legal rights.  Each party should have the opportunity to consult with a lawyer to understand how the prenuptial agreement will impact his or her rights in the event of divorce or death during the marriage. 

If you choose to hire an attorney to draft the prenuptial agreement, that attorney cannot also represent your fiancée as it would be a conflict of interest.   Best practice would be for your fiancé to hire a lawyer to independently review the prenuptial agreement to ensure it is fair and reasonable and conforms with your fiancé’s goals and understanding.   

Massachusetts does not require that you and your fiancé be represented by attorneys; however, it is strongly advisable to do so to increase the likelihood that your prenuptial agreement will be enforced. 

Wait, could my prenuptial agreement not be enforced?

Whether a prenuptial agreement is enforced is determined by a two-step analysis.  First, the court looks at whether the agreement was fair and reasonable at the time it was signed.  The court considers a series of factors to determine what is fair and reasonable, including how soon the agreement was signed to the date of marriage.  A word of caution is to make sure you begin having discussions with your fiancé about creating a prenuptial agreement as early as possible.  The closer to the date of marriage, the greater risk you take in the agreement not being enforced.

Second, the court looks at whether the agreement was ‘conscionable’ at the time of enforcement, meaning is each spouse left with adequate means and employment to support himself or herself after divorce.   

Massachusetts also requires that the parties make a full and truthful disclosure of their financial situation before signing.  Make sure you allow for ample time to gather and exchange financial information with your fiancé.

If you are considering a prenuptial agreement for your upcoming marriage, call Ryan Faenza Carey as soon as possible.

Divorce and other breakups are tough, especially when there are children involved.  For children, there is grief, fear, loss, sadness and confusion.  Want to do right by your children and make the best of a difficult situation?

  • Shield and protect your children from adult matters such as finances, division of property or who is at fault in the breakup.  Your children deserve to have a happy and healthy childhood; an important part of that is their relationship with their parents. Your friends, family, therapist or other adults should be your sounding board, not your children. 
  • Reality check!  Going through a divorce or break-up can be a long, difficult and emotionally taxing process.  Take time to take care of yourself, while realizing that this too shall pass.  Do your best not to allow the months it could take to address and resolve your divorce take away from the years you have with your child.
  • In an age-appropriate manner and notwithstanding the above, involve the children in matters that affect them to the extent that you and your co-parent agree.  Give your child a calendar so that they can see when they are at each parent’s home.  Help them choose gifts and/or cards to give to their other parent for special occasions.  Let them feel important and a part of things. 
  • Let the children know that parents are forever.  Help them understand that the adults may be ending their relationship, but not the relationship between the children and their parents.  You may not be spouses or significant others anymore, but you will always be co-parents. Do your best to have a united front with your co-parent; even with difficult matters, such as discipline.  Your child, although they may not be willing to admit it, will be comforted and reassured that you’re working together for your child’s best interest. 
  • Respect your co-parent.  Forgiveness can be powerful; blame, negativity and/or bitterness has no place in how you and your co-parent effectively raise your children.  Be cognizant of the reality that you choose this person to be your child’s parent and respect their role in your child’s life. Children can benefit from having two different, but very important, people in their life. 
  • Reassure your children.  Let them know their feelings of grief, fear, loss, sadness and confusion are normal.   Understand that you’re all working through a “new normal” and you’ll have new schedules, traditions and celebrations. If appropriate, provide an opportunity for therapeutic assistance (for yourself as well as your children).
  • Communicate with your co-parent.  Take the high road, regardless of the path your co-parent has chosen.  Rise above adult conflicts and continue to parent your children the best you can.  In tense or emotional situations, do not be reactive.  Take a deep breath and honestly assess your thoughts and potential response.  How would you want this issue to be handled if the shoe was on the other foot? How would you have handled this issue if you were an intact family? Put the children first.

We at Ryan Faenza Carey believe that children should come first; it’s imperative that children have a positive, healthy childhood regardless of their family dynamics.  Be the best you can be, your children are counting on you.     

Hopefully, the last words you will ever speak will be your wishes in your Last Will and Testament after you have left this earth. However, if you don’t leave a Will, did you know that the law will decide who gets your money and property? 

And if you aren’t married and don’t have children or parents, whatever you have may go to distant relatives you haven’t seen or heard from in years, or whom you may have never met. 

A recent Boston Globe article depicted such a sad situation where someone that died neglected to “speak” their last words in a Will, creating unintended results to the detriment of his loving step family with whom he was very close for decades.

It’s your money. It’s your property. You earned it. Make sure you decide where you want it to go.  Do a Will and have the last words  you ever speak be your words, and not a legal statute.