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 that… Continue 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 for… Continue 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