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Taking a closer look at ADR options in divorce

In last week’s post, we explored options that may save divorcing couples time, expense and emotional upset. Indeed, divorce does not have to be a scorched earth affair. Approaches that seek to avoid or minimize courtroom litigation generally fall under the category of alternative dispute resolution.

Yet a couple may need guidance about which ADR process best suits their needs. A recent article explores how the ADR options of collaborative divorce and mediation may allow couples to part ways with dignity.

Who can contest a will?

 

There are many reasons why people may believe that they should contest some provision within a will. However, not everyone has the legal standing to do so. Understanding who is granted the right to contest a will in certain scenarios is a good place to start when considering whether or not you should attempt to contest a will. There are certain conditions which must be met before anyone can contest a will. Individuals may not contest a will simply on the grounds that they believe they have not received a fair share, for instance.

Forensic accountants can make divorce fair

When a couple decides to divorce, the fair division of assets is often a large source of contention. If you are undergoing a divorce, employing a forensic accountant can help make sure that there are no significant assets being hidden from proper division by courts. Knowing what you can do to give your forensic accountant the best chance of identifying all relevant assets can make your divorce a more streamlined, fair process.

You may not have a great deal of expertise in financial matters, but you may have some useful information about the source of your spouse’s income. Even if it is only a general idea about what kind of documents may be held and where they are, this is useful. You may also have relevant knowledge of your spouse’s close relationships, which could be useful in helping a forensic accountant identify any individuals who may be helping to hide assets. Any sStrange behavior you have noticed may also indicate a spouse is attempting to hide assets, which a forensic accountant can pursue on your behalf.

Tips for minimizing the costs of divorce

There’s a reason that even attorneys hire their own counsel when going through a divorce. As a practical matter, the number of administrative details in a divorce proceeding can be overwhelming. From responding to the procedural requirements, such as court filings and hearings, to reaching agreement on the various issues that need to be settled, the demands upon an individual’s time can be substantial.

In addition to handling the administrative details, an attorney can lend an objective analysis to situations that might be emotionally charged. Any type of change can be hard and require adjustment, and the number of changes brought about by a post-divorce lifestyle is numerous. From visitation agreements to creating a whole new budget, an individual will have to create a new approach.

Do you still need an attorney in an uncontested divorce?

Does an uncontested divorce mean you don’t need a lawyer? We wouldn’t recommend it. As a law firm that has helped many individuals through all aspects of their divorce, we know that there are many issues that can be forgotten if not left in the hands of an experienced attorney.

From taking a forensic accounting of the marital estate to exchanging civil discovery requests, our law firm knows how to protect the interests of our clients. At the same time, there are strategies for minimizing the costs of a divorce. If the parties are interested in working through the divorce process efficiently and with minimal fighting, court involvement can be minimized and litigation can be streamlined. This type of approach might be labeled as uncontested, but each party may still have their own attorney to protect their interests.

Estate and retirement plans should be tweaked after a divorce

Even when going through a divorce, it’s not premature to consider revising one’s retirement or estate planning. The two are related, since an individual needs to estimate his or her liquidity in retirement, plan for medical emergencies or the possibility of incapacity, and potentially protect eligibility for Medicaid through the use of smart estate-planning instruments.

In our last post, we profiled the example of a teacher who divorced in her late 40s. Pursuant to the divorce, the teacher split her joint savings and assets with her former husband. Her full-time teaching job made her eligible for a pension, and she opened a retirement account. She also receives an annual share from her ex-husband’s annuity. Yet even those combined income streams may not be sufficient to support a decision to retire because she is still paying off the home’s $140,000 mortgage.

Will a divorce cut into your retirement savings?

Our family law firm understands that a client may require assistance not only before and during a divorce, but also after. For example, changed career circumstances may necessitate a post-judgment modification of a divorce decree regarding alimony payments. An uncooperative former spouse may need to be officially prodded by the court via a motion to enforce a judgment.

Our lawyers also have experience helping clients view the bigger picture of what their lives may be like after a divorce. In many cases, it may be necessary to reexamine retirement and/or estate plans.

Must paternity be established before child support attaches?

A pregnancy for an unmarried couple may raise questions about child support. In most cases, an expecting mother may want assurances that the father will contribute his fair share toward the expenses of raising the child. In Massachusetts, there are mandatory child support guidelines. An attorney that focuses on family law issues can provide guidance on how the complicated formula might apply in a specific client’s situation.

The process starts with gathering data about each parent’s income and medial insurance premiums. Other variables include the number of children, the expected costs of childcare and education, and any extracurricular activities. A court generally presumes that a child should benefit from each parent’s financial situation, which means that additional child support might be ordered if the parents can afford it.

Stability is an influential factor in a child custody decision

A court considers many factors when making a child custody determination in Massachusetts, including any potential disruption to a child caused by relocation. Recent federal guidelines involving foster children in school districts provides context for how a court might view the importance of stability in a child’s life.

Notably, the guidelines reference the concept of a child’s best interest. Schools are now required to work with child welfare agencies in determining whether a foster child would be better suited staying in a school or moving to a new one. In the latter case, the school is also required to allow immediate enrollment to facilitate a move to a new school, even if the child is missing some of the required paperwork.

Prenuptial contracts can organize assets for cohabitating couples

Same-sex couples now have the legal right to marry anywhere in the United States, which is a wonderful step toward achieving the financial and contractual benefits offered by a legal marital classification. However, that status is only prospective, and may not accurately represent the various arrangements that a same-sex couple has been enjoying for years.

Specifically, marital property is generally defined as only those assets that were acquired during the marriage. Yet unmarried couples may have purchased many assets together. Accordingly, a couple that has lived together for some time before marrying may need to take additional steps to ensure that their marital status accurately reflects their lifestyle.

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