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. 

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.

When you’re interviewing with a divorce attorney, you should make sure that all your questions are answered to your satisfaction.  Write down your questions ahead of time so that you don’t forget them when you meet with the attorney.

Questions to ask your divorce attorney should include the following:

  • Cost.  How much do you believe my divorce will cost?   What is your hourly rate and the rate of others in the firm that might be working on my case? How will I be charged and billed? What is the amount of your retainer to begin the case?
  • Recommendations.  What is the course of action that you recommend I take and why?  What step or steps should I take now, if any, to protect myself (or my children)? Is there anything I should not do?
  • Options.  Do you offer limited assistance representation?  What should I know about mediation, collaborative law, conciliation, arbitration and other forms of alternative dispute resolution?
  • Outcome.  What can I reasonably expect in terms of a range of outcomes—on property division, support, custody and parenting, health insurance, life insurance, etc. What is a realistic time frame to reach an end result?
  • Settlement v. Trial.  What is the likelihood of my case being settled by agreement without a contested trial? What is the percentage of your divorce cases that are ultimately settled by agreement? (this should be quite high) Are you prepared to try my case in Court if a settlement cannot be reached?

–     Experience.  How many years of experience do you have in representing clients in divorce and family law matters? How many clients have you represented in  divorce cases from beginning to end?

  • Approach/Philosophy.  What is your general philosophy or approach in these types of matters, and in my case in particular? (make sure you agree with his/her philosophy or approach).

You have a right to know, and should receive satisfactory answers to all of your questions.  Let your attorney know your priorities and wishes so that you can understand how to achieve your goals.  We at Ryan Faenza Carey believe our clients have a right to transparency, and to full and open lines of communication.