Divorce Law Monitor

  • In-State Relocation With Children During or After DivorceApril 30, 2021

    I recently participated with a client in an uncontested divorce hearing where the Probate and Family Court Judge presiding over the matter said something I have not heard many judges say at an uncontested divorce hearing. Addressing both parents, the Judge called attention to the removal language contained in the divorce agreement, making specific note to the residential parent. The Judge pointed out that while the language contained in the agreement only referenced removal of the children out of the Commonwealth, if the residential parent wanted to relocate with the children within the Commonwealth – but at such a distance that would impact the current parenting schedule – the residential parent may need to seek the Court’s permission to do so before she moved. While most divorce agreements contain specific language prohibiting out-of-state removal, very rarely do separation agreements provide similar restrictions for in-state relocation of a great distance, yet Massachusetts caselaw does restrict in-state “removal.” I was pleased that the Judge in this case called attention to this issue so that both parents were reminded of their obligations post-divorce with respect to the other parent’s relationship and parenting time with the children.

    M.G.L. c. 208 section 30 … Keep reading

  • The Hague Convention & International Child Custody DisputesApril 21, 2021

    For those facing international divorce and child custody disputes, knowing and understanding your rights, options, and potential pitfalls before they happen is vital – especially for parents who are dual nationals, foreign nationals, or are married to individuals with foreign ties. Join Elizabeth Crowley and Katie M. Dalton for a virtual webinar where they will share insight on these important matters and discuss recent high-profile Hague Convention cases in the media.

    Click here to watch the full webinar.… Keep reading

  • What You Need to Know About the American Rescue Plan ActApril 01, 2021

    President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act on March 11, 2021. In addition to the stimulus payment, this plan contains some tax credits that should be considered by parents divorcing this year.

    The Child Tax Credit

    • The plan increases the Child Tax Credit from $2,000 to $3,000 per child – $3,600 for any child under the age of 6 – for tax year 2021 only.

    • The plan provides for children under the age of 18 at year-end – as opposed to 17 under the current plan – to qualify for the credit for tax year 2021.

    • For 2021 only, the credit is fully refundable, even to those with no taxable income • The 2021 credit starts phasing out for single filers at $75,000, for head of household filers at $112,500, and for joint filers at $150,000.

    • The American Rescue Plan Act requires that half of the Child Tax Credit be paid in advance, meaning that payments for 2021 should be paid between July and December 2021 with six monthly payments. Eligibility for the credit will, in the first instance, be based on 2020 tax returns.

    • This credit can be taken by the parent … Keep reading

  • Privacy in Estate Planning and the Vaughan AffidavitMarch 18, 2021

    People typically have several goals in mind when they are looking to create or tweak an estate plan, and important to some may be the desire for privacy. Estate planning professionals are versed in the various estate planning vehicles that can effectively avoid scrutiny of one’s wealth and the nature of one’s estate plan, during life and after death. For example, while a simple will may require probate at death, with the filing of the will and disclosure of estate assets, trusts are private documents which avoid probate of trust assets at death. There are often work-arounds to disclosing the trust document itself in financial or real estate matters.

    When it comes to privacy, individuals often do not want their children to learn the magnitude of their assets or the specifics of the child’s anticipated inheritance. In that case, they certainly would prefer to shield such information from their child’s would-be ex-spouse. However, despite the careful crafting of an estate plan to maintain one’s privacy, a person may be shocked to learn that they are expected to disclose details of their estate if their adult child gets divorced in Massachusetts.

    Under Massachusetts law, a divorcing spouse has a right … Keep reading

  • Consideration of Income From Assets in Modifying AlimonyMarch 13, 2021

    The Massachusetts Appeals Court recently issued another decision interpreting the Alimony Reform Act, which went into effect in 2012. In the March 2, 2021 decision of Dolan v. Dolan, the Appeals Court provides guidance on the meaning of General Law Chapter 208, section 53(c)(1), which states:

    (c) When issuing an order for alimony, the court shall exclude from its income calculation:

    (1) capital gains income and dividend and interest income which derive from assets equitably divided between the parties under section 34.

    In Dolan, the husband sought a downward modification of his obligation to pay alimony to the wife under a 2016 Judgment of Divorce after he sold his business, leaving him with lower earned income. The husband was continuing to receive payments from the sale of the business. He argued that capital gain income from the sale could not be considered when determining his ongoing alimony obligation because the business was an asset assigned to him at the time of the divorce. The wife argued that modification of alimony is a two-step process: the judge must first determine that there has been a material change in circumstances and only after that threshold is met can the … Keep reading

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