Articles Archives

Is it legal to videotape my spouse behaving badly (verbal or physical abuse, infidelity, etc) as evidence in a divorce case?

As thoughts turn towards divorce, tempers can flare and people may behave in ways they normally would not be proud of, even in a relatively amicable situation. Of course, the bad behavior of a spouse—ranging from neglect of household duties to infidelity to abusive actions—may well have begun long before the divorce, and may well be the reason for it.

In seeking a favorable divorce settlement, one that compensates you for violations of the marriage contract and shields you from your spouse’s ongoing bad behavior, you will want to have evidence to bolster your claims. In a world of smart phones, where everyone has both a video camera and a broadcasting station in their pockets, you may be tempted to record your spouse’s bad behavior.

In a word: don’t.

Massachusetts laws on recording interactions between persons are possibly the strictest in the nation. While many states have “two-party consent” laws, … Read More »



Is Massachusetts a 50/50 state when it comes to the division of assets in a divorce?

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is not a 50/50 state. When a court is needed to rule on the allocation of assets, they are not necessarily divided equally between the two parties. While some states mandate a 50/50 split, Massachusetts is an equitable division state.

Commonwealth laws dictate that the courts can decide on a fair division of assets regardless of who actually owned it. A court could declare that the division is 60/40, or 70/30, etc. Any assets are subject to division between the spouses, and not always equally. This includes inheritance, a spouse owned business, real estate, retirement accounts, etc.

Many factors are taken into account when determining the division of assets. The factors considered are tailored to the individuals involved. Some examples include the length of the marriage, the behavior of each party during the marriage, the health status of both parties, and the occupations of each … Read More »



What is the difference between a fault and no-fault divorce?

In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the grounds for divorce depends on whether you decide on a no-fault or fault divorce.

A no-fault divorce does not require parties to prove blame for the breakdown of the marriage. Either or both parties can file to begin the process for a no-fault divorce merely pleading that the marriage is beyond repair, and it is time to move on. The ground for this action is “irretrievable breakdown of marriage”.

A fault divorce is more involved. In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, you have the option of filing for divorce and claiming one person is to blame for the failure of the marriage. Common grounds for a fault divorce include cruelty and abuse, desertion for one year or more, adultery, impotence, excessive use of drugs or alcohol, failure to provide support or maintenance, and sentences of five years or more in a penal institution.

Proving a … Read More »



Am I eligible to adopt in the state of Massachusetts as a single parent?

To be eligible to be an adoptive parent in the state of Massachusetts, the law states you must be at least 18 years old, and you or the child must be a resident of Massachusetts. In most cases, any married couple or single adult is eligible to adopt. If married, both spouses must be a part of the adoption. In nearly every adoption case, judges in adoption courts will consider the child’s best interests when making adoption decisions.

In Massachusetts, you can adopt anyone younger than you are, as long as they aren’t your spouse, sibling, uncle, or aunt. In most cases, any child you are adopting under the age of 14, must live with you for at least six months. Consent is required when adopting anyone being adopted over the age of 12.

It’s important to be aware that the state of Massachusetts does not allow private adoption, those … Read More »



Does Massachusetts divide property equally between the spouses during a divorce?

Rather than divide marital property equally, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ family law code seeks to divide it equitably.

Massachusetts defines “marital property” as any property—be it income, assets, real estate, or everyday items—that comes into possession of the couple or either of the spouses individually during the course of the marriage. This could include trade secrets, stock holdings, and artistic creations. For individuals of high net worth, or those who make their living by possessing valuable intellectual property, it is especially valuable to have a prenuptial agreement in place to keep this property separate from that held in common in the marriage.

In deciding what is an “equitable” division of property, the court will consider a number of factors. These include if the divorce is no-fault or at-fault, the relative incomes of the parties involved, and the financial, non-economic and emotional contributions made by each party during the marriage.

If … Read More »



I make my living as an artist. Does my spouse have a fifty percent share in rights to my works and the income they produce?

Yes and no.

Yes, in the sense that artistic works, along with patents, trade secrets, and many other “intangible” properties, constitute intellectual property. And intellectual property, in Massachusetts, is marital property.

No, in that Massachusetts does not assume “equal” (fifty-fifty) distribution of property between partners at the dissolution of a marriage, but rather “equitable.” Intellectual property falls under the requirement for equitable distribution.

In dividing something intangible, such as the rights to artistic works, Massachusetts family judges will, as with other forms of property, assess the relative contribution of partners to the marriage financially, emotionally, and logistically. Intellectual property has two sorts of value to be divided. The first is the rights to income from future royalties on a work or idea. Second, the present monetary value of a work or idea.

For creators or inventors, it may be wise to include provisions in a prenuptial agreement to protect your … Read More »



Wait–what do you mean I can’t deduct alimony on my federal taxes?

Alimony is a series of monetary payments to an ex-spouse that may be mandated as part of a divorce decree. Paying alimony can be an expensive and painful process—and it is about to get much more painful, thanks to changes to the federal tax code.

At present, those paying alimony may deduct the payments on their federal taxes, while recipients must report them as income. However, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) reverses this. Beginning in 2019, alimony payments may not be deducted from the paying party’s federal income taxes. However, alimony payment recipients will no longer have to report them as taxable income.

If your divorce has been finalized, or will be finalized before December 31, 2018, you need fear not. The TCJA only applies to divorces finalized beginning on January 1, 2019, or to divorce agreements renegotiated on that date or later.

If you are currently considering, … Read More »



Divorce Modification in Massachusetts

Once a divorce is finalized, the documents are filed with the courts. However, life is unpredictable and circumstances can change over time. In Massachusetts, if an earlier court order or judgment no longer suits the parties because circumstances have changed in a significant way since the order or judgment was issued, the court can “modify” the prior order or judgment.

Cases where a modification might be appropriate include those where the children are significantly older than at the time when the last child support order was issued, or where a person ordered to pay alimony has retired and now has a substantially smaller income than at the time he or she was ordered to pay alimony.

Sometimes a party may want to change an order or judgment because there is a legitimate need to do so, and it would be unfair not to allow a change. For example, when there … Read More »