Reasons to Obtain a Prenuptial Agreement

prenuptial agreementWhen most people hear the word “prenup” they most likely envision a multi-millionaire marrying someone half his/her age. While this may hold true in some cases, a prenuptial agreement has become much more common for all types of couples.

The following are reasons to consider obtaining a prenuptial agreement before entering a marriage:

  • You are not 100% aware of your fiancé’s financial habits. Does he or she have a lot of debt, bad credit or out of control spending habits? Many people are unaware of how the other deals with his or her finances.
  • Alimony. It is common for a spouse to choose to stay home once they have children. However, if the future leads to a divorce and that spouse has last time in the workforce how will he or she have a source of income? A prenuptial agreement can help sort those details out in the event something should happen.
  • You own property or expect to receive a substantial inheritance. Without a prenuptial agreement, your spouse may be entitled to a percentage of the property you own in the event of a divorce. In Massachusetts, there are no laws in place to help protect inherited property.  A judge can, in his or her discretion, obligate you to share premarital assets as well as gifts or inheritances received.  It is better to be protected ahead of time.
  • Avoid a long, drawn-out, expensive divorce. Some divorces can take years to settle. The longer the process, the more expensive it gets. If you have a prenuptial agreement in place, finances get sorted out more easily, often resulting in a quicker divorce process.
  • Avoid the fear of feeling “stuck” in a bad marriage because it will “cost too much.” If finances are fairly laid out in a prenuptial agreement, a spouse won’t have a reason to stick around in a marriage that isn’t working or isn’t healthy.
  • Help to protect your business. If you own a business and don’t have a prenuptial agreement, your ex-spouse will likely have a right to a percentage of that business. Keep your business protected.
  • You have children from a prior relationship.  Prenuptial agreements can spell out what assets, or what percentage of assets will go to your spouse so that the remainder of your estate can go to your children.

If you are considering having a Prenuptial Agreement drafted, please call Patricia S. Fernandez & Associates. Our legal team is dedicated to helping you choose the strategy that is right for you. Call (978) 681-5454 or Click Here to request a consultation.  Please note that we do not offer free consultations for prenuptial agreements.

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Understanding the Benefits of Conciliation

conciliationConciliation is a type of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) that is becoming more common in the United States and is used in court-affiliated ADR programs in Massachusetts.  Typically, the parties will seek conciliation following the commencement of litigation and identification of the disputed issues.  The conciliator meets with the parties and counsel and listens to each side explain what their desired outcome is and why they believe that outcome is fair.

The conciliator will then ask questions and may meet with each side and his/her attorney, or just the attorneys or just the parties or any combination thereof.  The conciliator analyzes the situation and using legal acumen and his/her knowledge of the particular judge assigned to the case, will help the parties reach resolution by helping each side to understand the strengths and weaknesses of their position.  The conciliator may make proposals for settlement and seek agreement from each side.

If an agreement in principal is reached, a short memorandum incorporating the basic terms is prepared.  One of the attorneys generally undertakes to draft a comprehensive agreement which is then signed by the parties and becomes part of a Court’s judgment.

There are several advantages to using conciliation rather than taking issues to the courtroom:

  • It is less expensive. Taking issues to trial can cost thousands of dollars.
  • It consumes less time. Issues handled by the court often get drawn out and postponed, making the process lengthy.
  • It can be more private.
  • In general, litigants who reach voluntary agreements are more satisfied with the process.  Leaving decisions to the Court can be unpredictable and a Court does not have the time to address nuances and details that may be important to the parties.

For more information about conciliation or other forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution, contact Patricia S. Fernandez & Associates. Pat serves as a Conciliator (both privately paid by the parties or pro bono through court appointment) or as Counsel representing a Party at the conciliation. Our legal team is dedicated to helping you to choose the strategy that is right for you. Call (978) 681-5454 or Click Here to request a free 30 minute consultation.

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Active Duty Military Parents and Child Support

child supportAre you divorced and have been called to active duty with the military? If so, there are several factors to consider when it comes to paying your child support. The Child Support Enforcement Division (CSE) works with active duty parents to ensure that the child support remains paid in full and on time.

A few aspects to be aware of include:

  • If you pay child support and the payments are withheld directly from your paycheck, the CSE can transfer the income withholding from your civilian employer to the Department of Defense (DFAS) so that your child support will be deducted from your military pay. There may be some delay before the income withholding at DFAS goes into effect.
  • Your monthly income may be greatly reduced after a call to military duty. The change in income may justify a change in the amount of the child support order. Only a court can modify the amount of your child support order; however DOR can assist you in asking the court for a reduction.
  • If you are currently ordered to provide health insurance coverage for your children, your call to military duty means your existing insurance coverage will end. However, you may enroll your children in the military health care coverage TRICARE.
  • Your call to active military duty may require you to obtain a valid passport prior to deployment. The State Department will refuse to issue or renew passports to parents who owe $2,500 or more in past-due child support.

If you are currently paying child support and have been called to active military duty, please call Patricia S. Fernandez & Associates with any questions or concerns. Our legal team is dedicated to helping you take the right actions in your child custody case and we thank you for your service.

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