Complex Divorce Cases are those that may bring in a new or unusual concept in Family Law for resolution. Our firm was hired to assist local counsel in a case that involved multiple family trusts. We established a position that at least two of the family trusts should be included in the marital estate. While the case was still pending, a trust case was ruled on in the Appeals Court which supported our position at the Trial Court level.
In divorce cases, the assets must be marshaled and divided in an equitable way. Sometimes the asset has a known value, such as a Kelley Blue Book value, but other times the value is less apparent. In one of our cases, a Stockbroker / Financial Advisor was paid large sums of money to bring his own clients to a new firm during the course of the marriage. This asset is called a book of business. When a spouse is a Stockbroker / Financial Advisor, during the divorce, the book of business can be a valuable asset and should not be overlooked.
High Conflict Divorce can arise under many circumstances are the most detrimental to the parent-child relationship due to parental alienation. These are the most difficult cases that we see. In a recent case where there was parental alienation, we counseled our client to take steps toward rebuilding the relationship with the children on the child’s terms, not those of the bad acting parent. We discuss these strategies with therapists in the field of parental alienation to ensure that the best measures are being taken. When one parent is unable to see a child at the hands of another parent, everyone suffers. Working with our client and opposing counsel to bring this issue to the forefront of the divorce case is always our goal.
209A Restraining Orders are heard at the District Court, but may be heard in the Family & Probate court as well. We represented a client who obtained a restraining order at the District Court, against her spouse. The client suffered verbal and emotional abuse for years, but the statute itself is aimed at physical abuse. Working with the original affidavit filed by the client without our input, Attorney Sweeney was able to convince the District Court judge in an hour long evidentiary hearing that our client met the standard – a reasonable fear of imminent harm. The restraining order was extended and the court’s decision was upheld on appeal. The result was more profound than a restraining order wherein the children were protected, the children blossomed in the months following the removal of the abuse. If you are in an abusive relationship, we recommend the Massachusetts court resources or DoveMA.org.
The alimony law changed in Massachusetts in 2012. Where judges used to apply a formula to calculate alimony, the formula has now been inserted directly into the statute. In a recent modification of child support, our firm successfully counter-claimed for alimony under the new durational limits. The client received alimony in a lump sum, an option available when the parties have the resources, as part of the overall settlement of the case.
Alimony termination after co-habitation has recently been adopted by statute in Massachusetts. We represented the ex-husband who believed his ex-wife was co-habitating. We engaged a private detective to collect evidence of the co-habitation. We were able to terminate alimony with a final payment of a modest lump sum to the ex-wife. The effective use of the detective created leverage to enforce the co-habitation provision in the agreement.
Business valuations are important when the family owns a business. We represented the wife, who was the defendant in her divorce proceeding. The husband and wife were in a long term marriage (defined as over 20 years), the children were emancipated, and the husband was proposing an unrealistically low value for his interest in the company. We were able to prove at trial, using a respected business valuation expert, the more realistic value to be divided and succeeded in obtaining a substantial alimony award for the wife.
Unreported income (under the table cash payments) are difficult to address. We represented a wife whose husband claimed to be disabled. We were able to prove at trial that the husband was currently working, despite receiving disability payments. We proved these through the wife’s testimony, comparison of the husband’s deposits into his bank account, and receipts of large cash purchases, which the wife had saved.
Addiction is an issue in many divorce cases. Recently, Opioid addiction has been an issue in several of our cases. It is imperative that that the addict and the family receive appropriate treatment. Our goal is to work with the opposing side to develop comprehensive treatment plans for the addict, helping both the addict in recovery, and the family affected by the addiction. When a child suffers an addiction it is imperative that the parents work together along with appropriate medical professionals to implement a recovery plan.
Highly compensated corporate officers often have stock ownership plans that must comply with various Federal Statutes. In one case we represented the spouse, who was President and C.E.O. of a large retail corporation. The partners were in a long term marriage. Our client had $14 million in stock inaccessible to him until retirement. We found an exception within the plan which allowed a spouse to receive a share of the stock in a divorce proceeding so long as there was an appropriate order from the divorce court. We convinced the court to award half of the stock to the non-CEO spouse at the very beginning of the case (Temporary Order stage). With the non-CEO spouse receiving $7 million in assets at the beginning of the case she was responsible for the payment of her own fees and income was attributable to her from the dividends the stock produced, thus reducing her need and lowering our client’s alimony order.