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Wellesley Family Law Blog

Facebook: Maybe it's your face a judge is looking at

"Pictures are forever" is a phrase that has undoubtedly been uttered more than a few times across the country by family members looking at decades-old snapshots of long gone relatives who continue to stare back at them from well-worn photo albums.

And how evocative those historical keepsakes can be. It's certainly not hard to understand the widespread maxim of a picture being worth a thousand words.

Some observations on financial abuse in a relationship

We noted the egalitarian nature of domestic violence in our immediately preceding blog post, noting in our May 12 entry that domestic abuse "doesn't discriminate and affects people from all demographics and income brackets."

What that equates to in Massachusetts and nationally is a particularly slippery and egregious evil, given that the face of violence is often well masked and not easily susceptible of a cure.

Taking action in the face of domestic violence

Every relationship has its ups and downs and relationships between spouses and current or former significant others are often particularly complicated. From verbal threats to physical abuse, acts of domestic violence can take many forms and, unfortunately, no one is immune to suffering such acts.

In cases where an individual is personally, or one's children are, in danger of suffering acts of domestic violence, it's important to take swift action. First and foremost, to provide for one's own safety as well as the safety of one's children, it's important to physically leave a home that is shared or accessible by an abuser. Next, it's critical to take action to obtain a restraining order.

Alimony considerations for Massachusetts residents

In any divorce, both parties are likely to have questions and concerns about finances. This may be especially true in cases where one spouse dropped out of the workforce to care for children or where one spouse makes considerably more money than the other. When the impending dissolution of a marriage could leave an individual at a considerable economic disadvantage, issues related to alimony should be explored and addressed.

Prior to 2012, under certain circumstances, Massachusetts spousal support law allowed judges to award lifetime alimony. Four year ago, an alimony reform bill was passed which, barring special circumstances, abolished lifetime alimony and also established specific payment durations for marriages that lasted less than 20 years.

Can a child custody order be changed?

In any divorce involving children, there are bound to be some difficult and emotional times. This is particularly true in cases where divorcing parents aren't able to agree about the terms of a custody agreement. As we discussed in a recent blog post, in contested custody cases, a family law judge will take several factors into consideration when attempting to determine what type of arrangement serves a child's best interest.

While a parent may be unhappy with a custody ruling, it's important to comply with the terms and conditions of a judge's final judgment. At times, however, the situation of one or both parents may change in ways that affect a parent's ability to care and provide for a child and the other parent may take action to modify the terms of an existing custody agreement.

Tips for divorcing parents: talking about divorce with kids

All parents want to protect and shield their children from experiencing pain and heartache. With this in mind, parents who choose to divorce often have many concerns about how a divorce will impact a child. Parents have good reason to worry as, if handled poorly, divorce can be an extremely confusing, scary and difficult time in a child's life. It's important, therefore, that parents set the right tone and deliver the right message to a child, starting with the very first divorce-related conversation.

For any parent, breaking news of a divorce to a child is bound to be a nerve-wracking experience. While the actual words a parent uses will vary and depend largely on a child's age, divorcing parents should keep the following things in mind when figuring out how to talk to a child about divorce.

Fathers: Planning for the unplanned in your divorce

Surprises are a part of parenting and being married. Unfortunately, they can also be a big part of divorce.

For example, let's consider the split between actress Megan Fox and actor Brian Austin Green. The pair filed for divorce last year, but recently it was confirmed that Fox is pregnant. This, like many other aspects of a high-asset divorce, was reportedly a surprise.

Summer is coming, are you and an ex on the same page?

June is just a few short weeks away and with it comes the end of another school year and the official start of summer. For school-aged kids, the summer months are meant to be a time for fun, relaxation and freedom. For working parents, the summer months can present many logistical challenges as parents must arrange childcare or somehow attempt to keep their kids busy and out of trouble.

For divorced parents, the day-to-day scheduling challenges that frequently accompany the summer months are often magnified as a parenting plan and custody schedule that worked during the school year must be adjusted to accommodate summer vacations, camps and extended stays with each parent. Even divorced parents who are on good terms and able to effectively communicate are likely to experience some misunderstandings or arguments when it comes to a child’s summer schedule. To minimize conflict, and the potential harm to a child, divorced parents would be wise to heed the following advice.

Why high-asset divorces are often highly complex

Making the decision to divorce is never easy and many couples struggle for years to salvage a relationship. At times, however, divorce truly is the best option for both unhappy spouses and their shared children. For couples who have amassed a considerable amount of wealth during the course of their marriage, the divorce process can be particularly complex and it’s important to seek the advice and assistance of an attorney who has successfully handled high-asset divorces.

The legal professionals at the Law Offices of Lisa A. Ruggieri have handled many divorce cases involving multiple real estate properties, numerous financial and investment accounts, business interests, family heirlooms and personal belongings of high value. We know that before any of these assets can be divided, it's critical to figure out their actual value and that a number of factors; including fair market value, tax penalties, appreciation, personal ties and demand; must be taken into account.

The importance of setting boundaries during the divorce process

Most relationships work best when there is mutual respect and a certain amount of give and take between two parties. In some marriages, however, there is an imbalance of power where one spouse takes more control. In cases where a power imbalance escalates to where one spouse attempts to exert more control over the other by withholding finances or engaging in behaviors that are physically or emotionally abusive, divorce may be the best option.

Individuals who are going through a divorce and who have concerns that the relationship with a soon-to-be ex may grow increasingly contentious and even potentially hostile, would be wise to take steps to set firm boundaries. Not only can setting boundaries help head off potential conflicts, but doing so also sets a benchmark by which an individual can measure and document when an ex crosses a boundary.

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