When an individual chooses not to pay an alimony obligation

The divorces that occur between Suffolk County residents can be amicable or they can be contentious. The parties to the divorces can stay friends after their marital dissolutions or they can dwell on the problems they experienced with their former spouses for years to come. While some individuals are able to make clean breaks from their exes, others find themselves tied to each other through their children, their property or their support commitments.

Alimony is one such support commitment that can exist between formerly married individuals. Alimony is temporary financial assistance paid from one former spouse to another to provide the receiving spouse with the financial means to start his life over. Often after divorce one spouse finds herself in a financially challenging position because she relied on a marital partner for financial help; alimony levels the monetary field for financially dependent spouses and helps them have fresh starts after their divorces.

However, just as one spouse may be set to receive alimony payments, the other may be asked to make such payments. Individuals may disagree with their courts’ requirements that they pay alimony to their exes. In some cases individuals disagree to such an extent that they simply refuse to make payments their former spouses are expecting as alimony.

Unfortunately for some financially strapped individuals, the failure to pay alimony cannot be remedied as aggressively as can the failure to pay child support. Generally, a person may not get a lien for missed alimony monthly payments, nor may he garnish a payee’s wages to accrue missing alimony amounts. A person who fails to pay court-ordered alimony may find himself facingcontempt charges and the penalties that attach to such allegations

While alimony is often a very helpful tool for a person in the post-divorce world, as a practical matter it is not always received when former spouses refuse to pay. Individuals who should be receiving monthly alimony payments have rights with regard to initiating payment compliance. Those who are missing out on needed alimony assistance may work with their legal representatives to bring their alimony receipts up to date.

Celebrity chef and actress head for divorce

The programs on the Food Network have inspired many a Massachusetts home chef to attempt to make interesting dishes and meals for his or her family’s enjoyment. Part of the appeal of the channel’s shows is the cast of personable hosts who provide insightful tips on how to perform better in the kitchen. One popular Food Network chef is Bobby Flay, who recently has been in the news for matters other than his impressive cooking.

Flay married actress Stephanie March about a decade ago and, just recently, the two announced that they would be divorcing. However, it appears that the couple executed a prenuptial agreement before walking down the aisle. Per the agreement, Flay promised to pay March $5,000 per month in support should their marriage end.

March and her representatives have claimed that Flay sent her $5,000 after their separation, but that such payments based on their prenuptial agreement are no longer valid. The payment was reportedly returned to Flay and the couple will likely have to address the enforceability of their prenup as they sort out their high asset divorce.

Prenuptial agreements can be invalidated or ruled unenforceable for a variety of reasons. March and her team may have to convince a court that the terms of the agreement are insufficient to meet her needs or that she is entitled to more support based on the couple’s finances. Other rationales can be offered as to why a prenup may not be enforceable.

Natick couples going through divorce may relate to Flay and March’s situation. Whether they have prenuptial agreements or not, support may be a contested issue in the dissolution of their marriages. In addition to dividing property and establishing child custody, spousal support is an important divorce issue for both the paying and the receiving spouse.

Source:¬†Fox News, “Bobby Flay, Stephanie March divorce reportedly getting messy,” April 13, 2015

Understanding the timeline for divorce finalization

Previous posts on this Massachusetts family law blog have discussed the different grounds on which an in-state divorce may be based. In many instances, a divorce is based on fault, generally assigning blame for the end of the marriage to one of the parties to the marital dissolution. A divorce may also be without fault and relatively amicable for the parties.

Regardless of whether fault is involved in a divorce, the involved parties can be anxious to know when their marriage is truly over. The finalization of a divorce depends upon how it was categorized. The Massachusetts Court System has different timelines for when divorces are truly completed.

If a divorce is classified as 1A, or generally when the divorce and its applicable negotiations are uncontested by the parties, then the divorce will end 120 days after the entry of the divorce judgment. If a divorce is classified as 1B, meaning generally that the parties do not contest the divorce but that they do disagree about divorce-related matters such as custody, property division, and support, then the end of the marriage does not occur until 90 days after the hearing if a judgment is entered in the matter. Fault-based contested divorces can follow different timelines.

The several months that a couple must wait before its divorce is finalized is called a divorce nisi. During that time, neither spouse may remarry as the marriage subject to the divorce is not technically dissolved. Once the divorce nisi ends, then the marriage is automatically terminated.

The divorce nisi phase gives couples a chance to continue their marriages if they have a change of heart. This does not happen in all cases, and for most the wait is simply the final step in getting to the end of a marriage. More specific questions about individual divorce timelines may be addressed by attorneys who work in the divorce and family law fields of practice.

Historical basis for the payment of alimony

Alimony is a legal vehicle by which a person is required to pay money to his or her former spouse that may be used for financial support. Here in Massachusetts, a man can pay a woman support and vice versa, though historically men were the parties mandated to pay support to their former wives. This post looks at some of the historical basis on which modern alimony laws are created.

In an article written for the National Paralegals College, alimony payments were originally described as support mandated from ecclesiastical courts that did not permit couples to divorce. In such courts, a couple could only secure a separation, and, because the couple was still technically married, the husband was made to continue to financially support his spouse.

When divorce was later recognized by American courts, a party often had to prove that fault was the reason for the marriage’s failure. Thus, without proof of fault on the husband’s part it could be challenging for a wife to get support from her ex. It can be presumed based on this information that if a wife’s actions caused a couple to divorce that she generally would not expect to receive monetary support in the form of alimony from her soon-to-be ex-husband.

Modern spousal support takes on a different form and in Massachusetts calculations are run to determine if and how much financial support a person should receive from his or her former partner. Fault is one of the factors that a court may look at and it still can factor into the size of a spousal support award.

Individuals who are going through divorce may have questions about alimony and whether they will receive or will have to pay spousal support after their marriages are terminated. Such questions cannot be answered directly by the information contained in this post, which is only provided as a general overview of alimony in its historical context. For specific guidance on personal alimony issues, readers of this blog may choose to consult their own family law attorneys.

What are the definitions of legal and physical custody?

When a couple with children decides to divorce, decisions will have to be made regarding the custody of their child. Yet did you know there is a difference between legal custody and physical custody?

Per Massachusetts law, legal custody can be either sole or shared. In a sole legal custody situation, just one parent retains the ability to make key life decisions on behalf of the child. This includes decisions regarding medical care, education and religion. In addition, they are responsible for the child’s moral and emotional development. If parents share legal custody, they are both responsible for these decisions and both must be involved in making them.

Physical custody, however, is different than legal custody. Like legal custody it can be either sole or shared. However, physical custody refers to where the child lives and which parent is responsible for supervising the child. In sole physical custody situations, the child lives and is supervised by just one parent and the other parent receives reasonable visitation rights, unless doing so would not serve the child’s best interests. Shared physical custody means that the child resides and is supervised by one parent some of the time and the other parent the rest of the time, allowing the child to have continuous and frequent periods of time with each parent.

Understanding the various types of custody is important when parents divorce. When the court makes child custody decisions, each parent has equal rights, except in the case of misconduct. In the end, the welfare and happiness of the child will be the basis of any custody order. This includes determining how the child’s living conditions, both before and after the divorce, will affect the child’s health — mentally, emotionally, physically and morally. Parents with further questions about child custody should research their legal options, to ensure they can reach a fair custody agreement.

What kinds of alimony may a Massachusetts court award?

Alimony, also known as spousal support, is the payment of money from one individual to another after they divorce. Generally, the spouse who is more financially capable will be given the legal obligation to support, for a set time, the other spouse. Alimony is intended to give spouses with no or lower earning capacities the opportunity to start over when their income-earning other-halves move out.

However, just as marriages may take on different forms and characters, so too may alimony vary based on the statuses of the couples it seeks to support. Massachusetts courts may award four different kinds of alimony during or after the divorces of couples appearing before them.

Perhaps the most recognizable form of spousal support is general term alimony. This type of alimony will vary in length depending upon how long the divorcing couple was married. It involves the earning spouse paying support to the non-earning spouse for a length of time after their divorce is finalized.

Another type of spousal support is called transitional alimony. This form of alimony is for couples who have been married for five years or fewer. The alimony is generally paid in a lump sum from one spouse to the other and concludes once that single payment is made.

A third type of support is rehabilitative alimony. This form of alimony differs from general term alimony in one important way: it anticipates that the spouse receiving the payments will be able to support him or herself at a future date. It is not intended to permanently sustain the receiving spouse, but rather helps that individual get to the point that he or she may financially function without help.

Finally, alimony may take on the form of a reimbursement. This type of support is for couples with short-term marriages and allows one spouse to give back to the other any financial support that may have gotten the paying spouse through school or into a new field or profession. It can be paid in a lump sum or over time.

The circumstances of a marriage will dictate the type of alimony that a spouse receives or is asked to pay. Please note that the information contained in this post is offered as information only and should not be read as specific legal advice. Individuals who have specific alimony questions may work with Massachusetts-based family law attorneys.

We bring care and zeal to child custody matters

No matter how much money or how many possessions a Suffolk County couple has, that couple’s greatest assets are its children. Whether those children are infants or teenagers, divorce and separation can be challenging for young people of all ages. Choosing the right legal representation to manage your child custody and visitation needs can be critical to protecting the emotions and best interests of your children.

The Walters Law Offices offer child custody and visitation representation to clients with varying needs and interests. While some divorcing couples are able, and prefer, to handle decisions about their kids outside of the courtroom, others elect to address such matters before a Massachusetts family court. Our firm can work with you to find the most effective way to approach your divorce-related custody determinations.

Although every child custody matter is different and poses its own unique personal and legal considerations, individuals who are confused about child custody laws in Massachusetts can benefit from working with skilled attorneys who practice in the field of family law. With you, our firm will seek out answers to your queries, whether your questions concern the differences between legal or physical custody, whether you can change your custody order, or any of the many other issues that may arise when children are affected by divorce.

Individuals who require legal assistance with child custody matters deserve competent, compassionate and zealous representation. The best interests of a child can be greatly affected by custody decisions, so having an appropriate attorney can be critical. To learn more about how the Walters Law Firm can help you through your own family law matter, please visit the firm’s website on child custody.

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