Grounds for Divorce in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, most Complaints for Divorce and Joint Petitions for Divorce are filed on the grounds of Irretrievable Breakdown of the Marriage or “No-Fault”.  You may still file a Complaint for Divorce on the basis of grounds such as cruel and abusive treatment, or adultery, but this is not typical. An experienced Family Law attorney, such as Patricia S. Fernandez, can advise you as to whether filing on fault grounds is helpful to your case.

The following are recognized grounds for divorce in Massachusetts:

  • adultery
  • impotency
  • utter desertion continued for one year next prior to the filing of the complaint
  • gross and confirmed habits of intoxication caused by voluntary and excessive use of intoxicating liquor, opium, or other drugs
  • cruel and abusive treatment, or, if a spouse being of sufficient ability, grossly or wantonly and cruelly refuses or neglects to provide suitable support and maintenance for the other spouse
  • irretrievable breakdown of the marriage as provided in sections one A and B; provided, however, that a divorce shall be adjudged although both parties have cause, and no defense upon recrimination shall be entertained by the court

If you are considering divorce, please call Patricia S. Fernandez & Associates. Our legal team is dedicated to helping you choose the strategy that is right for you.

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Postnuptial Agreements: When Are They Necessary?

“Marital contracts are not the product of classic arm’s-length bargaining, but that does not make them necessarily coercive. Such contracts may inhibit the dissolution of a marriage or may protect the interests of third parties such as children from a prior relationship.”  Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall.

Unlike Prenuptial Agreements, which are drafted before a couple marries, a postnuptial agreement is entered into by a couple who is already married. The Postnuptial Agreement, which is often drafted in an attempt to improve a marriage, details the settlement in the event of a divorce. It is different from a Separation Agreement, which is used to actually get a couple divorced.

In order to be considered fair and just, the judge will consider:

(1)   whether the agreement was free of coercion or fraud;

(2) whether each party knowingly, and in writing, waived his or her rights to property and support upon divorce;

(3) whether each party had the opportunity to hire counsel;

(4) whether each party provided full and fair disclosure of finances, including current and reasonably anticipated assets, income and liabilities; and

(5) whether the agreement was substantively fair and reasonable at the time of execution and upon divorce.

The burden of satisfying these criteria is on the spouse seeking to enforce the agreement.

If you are considering having a postnuptial agreement drafted, please call Patricia S. Fernandez & Associates. Our legal team is dedicated to helping you choose the strategy that is right for you.

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Divorce and Children: Responsibilities of the Parents

Even under the “best” circumstances, their parents’ divorce can be a confusing and stressful time for children. Divorcing parents should keep in mind the following:

 

 

1) In Massachusetts it is mandatory for divorcing parents to attend the “Parent Education Programs, Understanding the Effect of Divorce on Children”.  Sign up for the course as soon as possible. http://www.mass.gov/parenteducationbrochure. You cannot attend the class together.  You both must present a certificate of completion to the court before a divorce can be granted.

2) Divorcing couples should come up with a “parenting plan”, which spells out each parent’s rights and responsibilities regarding support and parenting time. Although some divorcing couples can do this without court intervention, it may be best to go to court and ask the judge for a “temporary order”, which will address these issues on a temporary basis while the divorce is being settled.

3) Do not make disparaging remarks to the children about the other parent. Ultimately, this will come back to haunt you.  Remember that your soon-to-be ex-spouse will always be the child’s mother or father.

4) Many children benefit from speaking with a licensed therapist, who will help them to process their feelings about the divorce.

5) Children should not be privy to the details of the divorce, except where it directly affects them; for example, parenting time schedules.

6) Do not discuss your new romantic interest with children during the divorce process. Even after the divorce is final, be cautious about introducing children to a new “significant other”.

7) Try to maintain “normalcy” for the children by allowing them to see their relatives and friends and by helping them to participate in their usual activities.

If you are considering Divorce, please call Patricia S. Fernandez & Associates. Our legal team is dedicated to helping you choose the strategy that is right for you.

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