My Divorce is Final-Now What?

divorce

If you are nearing the end of a divorce or have recently signed the papers to finalize your divorce, you may be asking yourself: “What’s next”? Sure, the actual legal part of the divorce may be over (or soon will be) and the weight of that burden may be lifted, but in most cases you don’t just get to walk away with a clean slate.

Even if you were the spouse that wanted the divorce, you are now going on to live a life without the person that you once loved. If you have children, emotions can be high and balancing life’s situations can become increasingly difficult.

The following are a few situations that you should anticipate the divorce:

  • You will feel lonely at times. Holidays may make you feel even more alone. Surrounding yourself with supportive friends and family is always important.
  • You may lose friends along the way. The friends that you once thought were loyal to you may prove to be unsupportive or may choose sides with your ex-spouse. You may be surprised to find out which friends you can truly count on.
  • If you have children, they may not always verbally express how they are feeling about the divorce but it is entirely common for them to behave differently than they otherwise would. Be aware of changes in their behavior at home and school. Encourage them to express how they are feeling. If behavior becomes extreme, it is best to contact a professional who can help.
  • It is important to be mindful of not bashing your ex-spouse in front of your children. Deal with your ex directly and do not put your children in the middle of an issue.
  • Work with your ex as a team when it comes to your children. Not all divorces end well or on ideal terms, but if you can remain civil with one another you can still do a great job of raising your children together.
  • You may not feel up for jumping into the dating scene-and that’s okay. Sometimes moving on can be easier when you have someone new by your side but if you have children this can easily upset them, and for good reason. Taking the time to figure out what it is that you really want in the next phase of your life is important and gives your children time to heal from the emotional stress of the divorce. If you do date, do not introduce the children to him/her until you are sure you will have a long term relationship.
  • Expect lots of change. From the kids’ schedules to holidays-things are going to be different than what you were once used to. Try to remain calm, open-minded, and stay organized. Communication with your ex-spouse is crucial.
  • Your emotions may be a roller-coaster ride. Some days you will feel like you have it all figured out and other days you may feel like a failure. Keep moving forward and be mindful that some days will be easier than others. At the end of the day, everyone makes mistakes and they are all learning experiences.

Divorce is not a situation that most people expect to find themselves in and it is often unpleasant. Divorce can be disruptive and draining, however, finding the right legal team to guide you through the process is a critical first step.

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5 Common Mistakes to Avoid when Divorcing

divorce

  1. Concealing or overlooking an asset:

In Massachusetts all property, no matter how or when acquired, is considered marital property.  How it is divided is another subject entirely. That said, even if it is something you do not want or feel you are not entitled to, it is important to disclose and ascertain the value of every asset so that it can be considered in your eventual division of property. Assets include items in safety deposit boxes, brokerage accounts, retirement accounts, bank accounts, trusts interests, whole life insurance policies, family businesses, real estate, equipment, etc.  In contrast, concealing or hiding an asset in an attempt to shield it from your spouse is absolutely forbidden.  Never attempt to conceal an asset as it will be likely be discovered. Once discovered, it will be used to undermine your credibility in court and will likely result in an unfavorable decision in some aspect of your case.  When making an inventory of your assets, be sure to also thoroughly review and disclose your debt.  In general, liabilities will also be considered marital debt and subject to allocation between you and your spouse.

 

  1. Agreeing to anything just to get it over with:

Divorce proceedings can be long and protracted, sometimes taking one or two years and numerous court appearances before resolution.  It is common to want to throw in the towel and accept any agreement just to get the process over with. This will be a great disservice to yourself and could have a devastating effect on your financial future.  It is important that you stand up for yourself and receive what is equitable in your divorce. The divorce process will certainly run its course eventually, and you need to be in the best position possible to take control of your life post divorce.

 

  1. Failing to consider tax consequences:

It is important to consider the various tax consequences in the context of divorce in order to enter into the most beneficial support arrangement for divorcing spouses and determine how to prudently divide assets. There are important tax related considerations that parties and counsel should keep in mind when structuring a support arrangement.  Child support is not taxable income to the recipient parent and it is not deductible for the payor spouse.  In contrast, alimony is included as taxable income to the recipient spouse and is tax deductible for the payor spouse.  In addition, parties and counsel should prospectively consider how/if dependency exemptions, real estate tax and mortgage interest exemptions will be shared. In dividing assets at the time of divorce, parties and counsel should bear in mind the difference between liquid assets such as bank accounts, mutual funds, etc. and pre-tax assets including IRAs, 401(k)s and other retirement accounts (excluding Roth IRAs), as withdrawals on each account may have different tax implications.

 

  1. Making decisions based on emotion:

It goes without saying that divorce is a highly emotional time for the parties involved. Making a decision based on guilt, vengeance, anger or any other emotion is a huge mistake. Although difficult to do, you must try to separate yourself from the emotion and treat your divorce in a businesslike manner.  This is likely one of the biggest transactions you will ever be involved in. Remember that you need to have a long term plan after the divorce, and making emotional short sighted decisions will be regretted later.  Being angry or vengeful will likely end up costing you and your soon to be former spouse a lot of money in unnecessary attorney’s fees and a lot of wasted time.  Stop focusing on the past and prepare for your future.

 

  1. Filing pro se or retaining the wrong lawyer:

Divorce is complicated and you should not try to do it all by yourself.  Retaining a lawyer is an important decision.  Hiring the right lawyer can prove to be difficult as well. Often time people will hire the most economic option or the attorney most convenient to their home or work. Obviously, this is not the proper way to make such an important decision. Do your homework!  You need all the help you can get in a divorce.  Research attorneys, interview several attorneys before hiring one, ask friends who have used attorneys for referrals, etc.  Choose a lawyer that makes you feel comfortable and who has an excellent reputation. You do not want to have to change lawyers half way through a divorce.

~ Miguel A. Nieves, Esq.

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Patricia S. Fernandez & Associates welcomes clients, colleagues and friends to new office in North Andover

Patricia S. Fernandez & Associates hosted an open house for more than 50 clients, colleagues and friends at its High Street location in North Andover’s Historic Mill Buildings to celebrate 30 years in practice.

The following are some photos from the open house. Thank you to everyone who came out and enjoyed the night with us.

(From left): Nicole K. Socci, Marie J. Meehan, Jennifer D. Goodwin, Patricia S. Fernandez and Miguel A. Nieves, all of Patricia S. Fernandez & Associates.

(From left): Nicole K. Socci, Marie J. Meehan, Jennifer D. Goodwin, Patricia S. Fernandez and Miguel A. Nieves, all of Patricia S. Fernandez & Associates.

(From left): Patricia S. Fernandez of Patricia S. Fernandez & Associates and Linda N. Cummings of Law Offices of Linda Nutting Cummings.

(From left): Patricia S. Fernandez of Patricia S. Fernandez & Associates and Linda N. Cummings of Law Offices of Linda Nutting Cummings.

 

(From left): Miguel A. Nieves of Patricia S. Fernandez & Associates, Daniel Lagosh Jr. of Donovan Hatem LLP and David Cerulo of Cerulo & Associates, P.C.

(From left): Miguel A. Nieves of Patricia S. Fernandez & Associates, Daniel Lagosh Jr. of Donovan Hatem LLP and David Cerulo of Cerulo & Associates, P.C.

(From left): Patricia S. Fernandez of Patricia S. Fernandez & Associates, Kim Bass of Bass Enterprises Productions, LLC and Richard Bass of Cardinal Shoe.

(From left): Patricia S. Fernandez of Patricia S. Fernandez & Associates, Kim Bass of Bass Enterprises Productions, LLC and Richard Bass of Cardinal Shoe.

(From left): Lloyd D. Godson of Godson Legal Group, P.C., Deborah M. Godson and Marie J. Meehan of Patricia S. Fernandez & Associates

(From left): Lloyd D. Godson of Godson Legal Group, P.C., Deborah M. Godson and Marie J. Meehan of Patricia S. Fernandez & Associates

(From left): Charlotte S. Murphy of The Law Office of Charlotte S. Murphy, Cynthia Grover Hastings and Kirsten E. Lipschutz of Perocchi Family Law Group and Nicole K. Socci of Patricia S. Fernandez & Associates

(From left): Charlotte S. Murphy of The Law Office of Charlotte S. Murphy, Cynthia Grover Hastings and Kirsten E. Lipschutz of Perocchi Family Law Group and Nicole K. Socci of Patricia S. Fernandez & Associates

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