Think that dividing assets in divorce is easy and anyone can do it?  Think again.  You may be risking thousands or tens of thousands of dollars if you forget to dot the “i’s” and cross the  “t’s”.  A recent Boston Globe article highlighted the Court case of former Patriots running back Mosi Tatupu. His case underscores the importance of careful and timely drafting and consistency in dividing assets in a divorce. It also illustrates how important it is to fully understand the terms of your settlement.

What Mosi Tatupu’s widow thought she was getting from her former husband’s NFL pension, and what she ultimately got, were two different things. The provisions of the parties’ divorce Separation Agreement, and the court-submitted document dividing the pension (DRO) were inconsistent. After Mosi’s death, his former wife sought to enforce terms of a DRO to divide the pension, and a federal Court in Massachusetts denied her claim.

The division of pensions and other assets in a divorce is complex and should be handled by an experienced professional.  It is essential that you know and understand your rights, as property division provisions are usually final.  Insist on having your rights explained to you and leave nothing to chance; it is unlikely at best that problems with property division can be rectified after the fact. 

We at Ryan Faenza Carey have seen first hand the difficulties and problems that arise in cases such as Mosi’s, among others.  These difficulties and problems can mean the loss of thousands or even millions of dollars down the road.  Consult with one of our experienced professionals.

There are many divorce attorneys and firms who like to define themselves as specializing in representing “men” or representing “women” in particular. Over the years, divorce has become more gender neutral, although not completely gender neutral.  “Parenting” has replaced the traditional notions of “custody” and “visitation,” recognizing the importance of both parents.  Recent significant changes in both the alimony and child support laws have resulted in more gender neutral treatment in these areas (i.e. alimony and child support orders received by both men and women).  

So do you need a “divorce attorney for men” or a “divorce attorney for women”?

We at Ryan Faenza Carey believe the selection of an attorney to represent you in a divorce is an important one, and that there are many considerations more important than gender.  Experience, professionalism, and high rate of settlement are all important considerations in selecting an attorney.  It is critical that you feel trust and confidence in your attorney, and that you are able to communicate with him or her.  Over the decades, our firm has represented roughly equal numbers of men and women in divorce and family law matters.  We believe this broad base of clientele allows us to be strong advocates for both men and women, resulting in a meaningful resolution in most cases.

Decide for yourself. Call us for a consultation.

A divorce can feel like a liberating experience once legal proceedings are finalized. Many people leave our office for the last time with the feeling that the past is behind them, and nothing but opportunities for the future await. They don’t expect to have to deal with any more court or legal proceedings. 

Nevertheless, here are some post-divorce considerations we share with all of our clients to ensure they are avoiding additional legal headaches down the road:

Don’t Forget your Agreement Terms:

It is good practice to periodically read throughyour Agreement or Judgment after the divorce to carry out the terms of the divorce. Typically, parties often forget some of the terms of the final orders. There are probably provisions concerning splitting up the assets, who takes the dependent exemptions for the children, life insurance you may have to establish or verify, provisions regarding payment of uninsured medical expenses for the children, or other things to be done to carry out the agreement reached.

Make sure you’re legally divorced before remarrying

Be sure to wait until the Judgment of Divorce Absolute—the final judgment—before you remarry. This is the formal document that recognizes you as legally single in the eyes of the law.

Consider a Prenuptial for the next one

If you do remarry, a prenuptial agreement can save you a lot of headache by determining in advance what should happen if your subsequent remarriage ends by divorce or death.

Be aware of your right to modification

If circumstances of the parties or children change, you may want to explore a modification– a  change in the Court orders—typically these changes concern support, parenting schedule, medical insurance, life insurance triggered by changes in income, job, or changes in parenting schedules.

You may have to involve the court if orders aren’t followed

If your former spouse doesn’t obey the Court orders, you may need to explore a contempt proceeding—to enforce the Court orders.  Typically this involves failure to divide pensions or retirements, failure to pay support, etc.

Laws change- and this can affect your agreement

Sometimes laws change and can have retroactive effect.  Periodically explore whether or not any changes in the laws may affect you.

You should plan ahead

Put together a post-divorce estate plan—to insure that your wishes are carried out the way you want them to be carried out in the event of your death.  

Get creative with social security

When it is time to consider collecting social security, remember that your previous marriage may allow you considerable options of collecting under your work record, or that of your former spouse, or a combination of both, in order to best maximize your benefits. 

It’s important to find a lawyer that’s right for you. Although there are still some “general practice” attorneys, most attorneys and firms concentrate their practices in one or more fields of law.  Not every lawyer is proficient in every area of law.  Much like the medical profession, you probably wouldn’t see a podiatrist for a problem with your heart, and you probably shouldn’t see a medical malpractice lawyer for a divorce. 

Ryan Faenza Carey concentrates its practice in divorce and family law, real estate, and some probate and business matters. If we can’t help you, we will help you find someone who can help you.  We consider it part of our responsibility to help clients calling about other types of law outside our fields of expertise to connect with an attorney outside our firm who we believe would serve them well.  Frankly, it is easier for us as attorneys to utilize our network of colleagues to make a referral to another lawyer or lawyers than it is for clients to find an appropriate attorney themselves.

In making a referral to an attorney outside our firm, we take into consideration:

  • The client’s legal needs
  • The reputation, skill and specialized field(s) of the attorney as one that would meet the client’s needs
  • The personalities/style of the client and the referral attorney
  • Geographic considerations (where the client lives and where the attorney practices)
  • Budgetary considerations
  • Any other requirements/requests that the clientmay have

Call Ryan Faenza Carey for assistance, whether you need the assistance of one of our seven attorneys,or an attorney outside our areas of expertise. We would be happy to  guide you.

Signing your name to just about any document relative to a divorce or family law case matters.  The public oftentimes expects that they can argue ignorance, duress or lack of representation later on.  Unfortunately, your signature can create a binding, contractual obligation for you.  If you have regrets later on, you may have little to no recourse to “undo” your signature, much less what you’ve obligated yourself to.

         The best advice we at Ryan Faenza Carey can offer is this:  When in doubt, don’t.  If you have any hesitation, err on the sign of caution.  If you feel pressured or don’t understand what you’re signing, put the pen down.

         Before you sign, ask questions, educate yourself and seek counsel.  Don’t ever sign something based upon the representations or promises of others, especially if those representations or promises are not contained in the document you’ve been asked to sign.  Read every word, line and paragraph of the document. 

         If you have questions or need something clarified, contact an independent attorney to review the document for you and with you.  Make sure your attorney explains to you the meaning, significance and implications of the document you are considering signing in a way that you understand.