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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Resolutions to Try to Keep as a Newly Divorced Parent

 

divorcedYou are a newly divorced parent and managed to survive the holidays.  Now it is one month into the New Year and it seems like there are a whole new set of obstacles ahead. The magic of the holidays is over, the kids are back in school, homework needs to be checked, deadlines at work need to be met, and maintaining civility with your former spouse has been a challenge.

If the divorce did not go as smoothly as either one of you hoped, now is a good time to sit down and think about what it is you want to accomplish and how to handle the challenges you are facing. As co-parents, it is imperative to create the healthiest environment for your children, especially during family transitions. The following are a few helpful tips on how to create some post-divorce resolutions and stick to them:

  • Make it your goal to speak respectfully with your former spouse even when your children are not present. This will help to create a healthy habit for communicating while co-parenting. If you always assume your children are aware of the words you are exchanging with your former spouse and the emotions you are experiencing, you will not only prevent unintentional exposure to name-calling and other undesirable communications, but also you will set an example for your children to follow.
  • Remain open-minded about scheduling time with your children. If something comes up and needs to be changed, make an effort to remain calm and civil about the situation, especially in front of the children.
  • Give your children credit where it is deserved. If they live with and maintain relationships with a step-parent or siblings, make sure to remind them how loved and important they are to you and your former spouse.
  • Counseling is never a bad idea. It is common for people to struggle with emotions and relationships during and following family transitions and often the help of professional counselor or social worker can help work through such issues.  Children are very perceptive and may pick up on tensions or emotions and counseling may help better equip you for moving forward in a healthier way.
  • Do not talk badly about your former spouse in front of your children. This can lead to confusion for the child, a lack of trust of both parents, and feeling like he or she needs to choose a side.
  • Remain open-minded and listen to your children when they express feelings about the divorce or separation. They are entitled to opinions and expressing their feelings is healthy.
  • No matter how upset, sad, or stressed you are, it is important that you continue to put your children’s needs before your own. There will be days where this will seem near impossible and that’s okay– just keep pushing forward. Whether they show it or not, your children will be thankful.
  • If you are moving to a new home, keep in mind the time your children will be spending with their other parent. Living within a short distance may be easier on everyone.
  • Keep your children’s teachers up to speed with what is happening outside of school. The teachers don’t need to know every last detail of the divorce, but can certainly be more helpful inside the classroom if they are aware of what your children are going through at home.
  • After you are done putting your children’s needs ahead of your own, make sure you are finding things to do that you enjoy. Whether it is picking up a new hobby, meeting with friends more often, treating yourself to a day of relaxation, or simply having some quiet time to yourself–you deserve it.

Family transitions are never easy and can be quite difficult on every member of the family. Keeping a few of these tips in mind may help to keep you and your children healthy and happy.

 

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