Divorce is messy, overwhelming, scary, and hard. A qualified attorney can help clients navigate the process, but the most successful divorces occur when clients help themselves. Here are the things we strongly recommend to anyone facing or currently undergoing a divorce. We are certain it relieves the burden-both long and short term- of this major life event.

 

  1. Engage an attorney you trust, tell your attorney the truth about everything, and follow his/her instructions and recommendations.

 

  1. Understand that divorce is a process and does take time; buckle up for the ride and resist the urge to “just get it over with.”

 

  1. Leave your kids out of it—protect them, nurture their relationship with you and with your soon to be ex and take the high road in all respects—parent them first.

 

  1. Be reasonable. Spending $100 in legal fees to chase $50 is a waste of your time. Be willing to cut your losses where it is practical to do so. Don’t go to trial or fight endlessly over something for which you have a low likelihood of success.

 

  1. Decide what matters most, and negotiate your divorce agreement according to those priorities.

 

  1. Have reasonable expectations. In a good divorce, BOTH parties walk away unhappy. You will not get everything you want. Be prepared to compromise.

 

  1. Reach an agreement before appearing before a judge, if at all possible. Even a bad agreement is better than a good trial. You and your spouse, with the help of competent attorneys, are in the best position to negotiate a divorce agreement that is tailor made to your family. You will not have that luxury with a Judge.

 

  1. Be civil, and don’t burn your bridges. Ultimately the best thing for you, your soon to be ex and your children is for you and your soon to be ex to communicate and be able to deal civilly with one another. The investment you make in having a civil relationship will come back to you a hundred-fold in the future.  Don’t make anyone the bad guy—even if they deserve it. Civility is a huge investment in reaching resolution and staying out of Court both now, and in the future.

If you’re facing a divorce and in need of legal support, contact RFC today.

 

  1. There are no punitive damages. Not for extra-marital affairs, not for being the spouse seeking the divorce, and generally not for other conduct unless it has a significant impact on the health or finances of the parties or children.

 

  1. What goes around comes around. If you disparage your spouse to your children and to others in order to cause pain to your spouse, it is likely to cause significant long term pain to your children, and ultimately to you as well, causing wounds which may never heal. More about how to handle divorce with your children in Silver Linings, the book.

 

  1. Alimony is gender neutral. For the successful higher earning men and women of Massachusetts, you may pay alimony to your soon to be ex in a divorce.

 

  1. You can’t have it both ways. An equitable divorce in the eyes of the law may be one in which both parties walk away feeling unhappy.   For every benefit there is generally a corresponding burden. Your idea of “fair” may not comport with the Court’s view of fairness.

.

  1. You can’t “stop” a divorce. We have no fault divorce in Massachusetts.   If one spouse wants a divorce, a divorce will be granted, even over the objections of the other.

I am a divorce attorney. I help clients restructure their lives after they have decided to divorce. I don’t cause divorce or advocate divorce; I do my best to help people in pain try to put their lives back together and establish a “new normal”. I have the privilege of making a difference to people who are in transition.

Each time I hear divorce described as a “broken” family or a “broken” home, I shudder.

Divorce is nothing more than restructuring of lives and families into two homes instead of one. The parties to a divorce and their children all remain whole—their family just looks different. Divorce is a decision—sometimes voluntary and sometimes involuntary. It is no different than any other decision in one’s life, but it can be one fraught with anxiety and concern.

It presents emotional, financial and legal challenges. It causes wounds that often take time to heal. But people, and families, move on and they do heal. They restructure. Parents and children from divorced homes are no less healthy or dysfunctional than parents and children from intact homes.

When a couple makes the decision to divorce, it disrupts the status quo. Decisions must be made, and there are many interests to protect. Most people have no experience with divorce before it happens to them. As a divorce attorney, I guide clients through one of the most difficult experiences they will ever encounter. There are more questions than answers. Where will everyone live? How will the children be cared for? How will we decide parenting time with the children? How much will each parent provide in financial support and for how long? Who will pay for college? How will medical and dental insurance be provided for the family? Will there be life insurance protection if one parent dies? How will the family home, retirement plans and other assets be divided? Who will assume the debts and mortgages? If circumstances change in future years, how will that affect our rights and responsibilities?

I am proud to be a lawyer, and proud to represent men and women from all walks of life in restructuring their families during and after divorce. At Ryan Faenza Carey, our attorneys offer patience, understanding, and sensitivity. We provide competent, professional guidance for our clients through the emotionally charged journey of divorce, with a view toward arriving at a prompt and amicable settlement wherever possible, so that our clients’ lives may begin anew.

Which One is Right for You?

Realizing that your marriage has ended is a difficult decision. In Massachusetts, you have two alternatives to an official divorce, and we at RFC take care to help our clients understand the benefits and disadvantages of each option they have available. Here are two alternatives to filing for divorce—and some of the things to know before choosing a path.

Legal Separation, or Separate Support in Massachusetts

Clients sometimes ask whether a “legal separation” is a viable option, oftentimes searching for a less permanent trial period to determine if their marriage is truly over. However, Massachusetts does not recognize “legal separation.” Instead, individuals in the Commonwealth have the option to file a Complaint for Separate Support if the client and his/her spouse are living apart due to a justifiable cause like abuse, adultery, or desertion. A Separate Support agreement is different from divorce in that it will not end the marriage, but will merely provide for a spouse’s financial support while the parties are living separate and apart.

While a Separate Support agreement may be an ideal situation for some, it is typically not the most ideal method of moving a divorce forward. After receiving an Order or Judgment for Separate Support, an individual will need to essentially start over and go through a similar process to obtain a permanent divorce. Further, there are no protections relating to property rights in a Separate Support action, and the length of marriage continues, which could impact alimony calculations if and when the couple gets a divorce.

Filing for divorce is not permanent until the case goes to Judgment; the parties may reconcile and dismiss the Divorce Complaint at any time prior to Judgment.

Annulment

A Complaint for Annulment is a request that the Court find your marriage was never legal. Annulments are not common in Massachusetts and only apply in limited circumstances. To grant an annulment, the Court must determine that your marriage is either “void,” or “voidable.” Annulments are not quicker nor easier than filing for divorce.

A marriage can be deemed ‘void’ if:

  1. You were already married to someone else when you got married; or
  2. You marry a close relative, either by blood or marriage.

Additionally, sometimes a marriage may be deemed “voidable,” for the following reasons, although not guaranteed:

  1. One of the spouses did not have the mental capacity to consent to marriage at the time
  2. One of the spouses is not physically capable of sexual intercourse
  3. One of the spouses was not old enough to get married
  4. There was fraud involved in initiating the marriage.

While it is a personal, and often times very difficult decision to file for divorce, unfortunately the Separate Support/annulment processes are not any less complicated options. Typically, divorce is the only means to properly uncouple yourself from your spouse. Whatever your circumstances, you should speak with counsel prior to filing any Complaint to ensure that you fully understand your options. Questions about how to proceed? Our attorneys at Ryan Faenza Carey are always available for consultation. Contact us today.

Restraining Order or Not: How you can protect yourself from abuse, stalking or harassment in Massachusetts

A co-worker that you hardly know suddenly begins acting hostile towards you. One day, out of the blue, she threatens to beat you up. Another day, she screams at you and gets in your face. You become scared and upset and you feel things are escalating. Soon, you find all four of your tires slashed.

What do you do? You discuss the situation with a friend and she tells you to go get a domestic violence restraining order. But that requires several things, one of which is that you demonstrate to a judge that you and the person threatening to harm you have been involved in a substantive dating or engagement relationship, or are or were married, or that you are or were residing with the person, or that you had a child in common with him/her. Clearly, that is not the case here with your co-worker.

Does that mean there is no way you can be protected? No. It does not. In 2010, Massachusetts enacted a law similar to the law that allows a judge to issue a domestic violence abuse protection order. The law, known as the harassment prevention law gives protection to victims of abuse, stalking or harassment where the requirements of the other law are not satisfied. So, which one is appropriate for you if you are being abused or harassed?

The attorneys at Ryan Faenza Carey can assist you in pursuing the right legal action to ensure you have the protection you need. Contact us today for more information.