Monthly Archives: February 2012

What is a good result in a divorce case?

There is a lot of emotion that usually gets in the way of settling your divorce.  Settling a divorce case should not be that hard. It is usually a financial planning exercise best settled on spreadsheets rather than in the courtroom. Custody and parenting issues are a little more complicated, but if both parents love their children, the most important thing they can do is to cut down on the conflict relating to parenting. When clients first come to a lawyer they are often feeling angry, hurt, depressed, lonely and/or scared. In that emotional condition they ask their lawyers to strike out at their soon to be ex-spouse so that they can feel a little bit better. That is usually a bad strategy for the client and the lawyer, but lawyers sometimes feel they don’t have any choice but to do what the clients wish, or the client will go to another lawyer. Clients need to hear from their lawyer when their emotions are getting in the way of a settlement. In my practice I am willing to risk losing a client when I feel they are asking me to do something that is not constructive or warranted, and is coming from an emotional place, not a practical place. It’s the only way I can work.

Every client wants to get the best possible outcome.  As a lawyer, I take great pride in getting good results for my clients.  But the question is “What is a good result?”  The truth is that a good result is not just dependent on the amount of dollars you get or the number of hours you spend with your child.  Clients and lawyers must always ask whether the outcome is worth what it takes to get there.  To get the best possible “result”  may require a greater expenditure of money than is worthwhile. If that is the case, is the outcome really that good? To get the best possible “outcome” in custody cases may well result in hard feeling that can last a generation. If that is the case, is the outcome really that good? These are not easy questions to answer and the answer is different for each client, but clients and lawyers need to talk about all possible outcomes, including unintended consequences  that may arise from failure to reach agreement.

Cohabitation and alimony reform

The new Massachusetts alimony reform law contains provisions that spell out what happens if  a recipient of alimony lives with someone while receiving alimony. Unfortunately the new provisions leave many questions unanswered.  The statute says that alimony “shall be suspended, reduced or terminated upon the cohabitation of the recipient spouse when the payor shows thatContinue Reading

If you live together before marriage or separate from your spouse while married it could effect your alimony

One of the hallmarks of the new law is that the duration of alimony is now based upon the duration of the marriage. The duration of the marriage is counted from the date of the marriage to the date of service of a divorce complaint upon your spouse.  The timing of when you file forContinue Reading

Unanswered questions under the new alimony reform law

It is likely there will be lots of news stories on or about March 1, 2012 proclaiming a new day in Massachusetts because of the alimony reform law. There are still many unanswered questions and we will begin on that date to learn how the law is applied in our probate courts. It will takeContinue Reading

Talking to a divorce lawyer can be bad for your marriage

It is really important to think twice before filing for divorce. In my experience a small but significant percentage of clients who consult us about divorce are really unsure about whether they want to end their marriage. Many clients come to us to find out “what will happen if we divorce?”  These clients are notContinue Reading

Be careful about making changes because of the new alimony law

Recently we have been in touch with clients who are either happy or discouraged because of the new alimony law.  Many of our clients who have been paying alimony are looking forward to stopping their payments on March 1, 2012.  Others are afraid they are going to have their alimony cut off on that date.Continue Reading

Postnuptial agreements instead of divorce

When the case of Ansin v. Ansin, 457 Mass. 283 was decided in 2010 we got an answer to a question that was unanswered in Massachusetts. We now know how to execute binding post-nuptial agreements and that if done properly they will be enforceable in court if necessary.   Since that case was decided we haveContinue Reading

Second opinions in divorce cases

It is generally known that second opinions are a good idea before undertaking any major medical procedure. It is a little less well known that this is a reasonable strategy from time to time as major decisions are made in a divorce. This is so for the same reason as it is advisable in medicine. Continue Reading

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