Armstrong Law, P.C.

Lowell Massachusetts Family Law Blog

What happens to your family business when you divorce?

If one of the marital assets you and your spouse own in Massachusetts is a family business, what happens to it when you divorce likely will become a major issue. If you are like most couples, your family business represents not only your greatest asset, but also the one that provides most, if not all, of your family income. Consequently, how you split it up undoubtedly will have lasting consequences for both of you.

Forbes reports that divorcing couples usually have the following three options when it comes to splitting up their family business:

  1. Sell it and divide the proceeds
  2. One spouse buys out the other spouse
  3. You both continue to own the business

Should you have a prenup?

If you are getting married in Massachusetts you are probably not thinking about divorce, and a prenuptial agreement may be the last thing on your mind. However, having one can protect you and your spouse from losing key assets or from gaining debt in the event your marriage does break apart. Even in the happiest of relationships, a prenup can be beneficial.

According to, a prenuptial agreement is not only for the rich. First, it forces you to have tough, but important, conversations about finances. If divorce never occurs, having these conversations early on can help and strengthen your marriage, especially during hard times. In the event of divorce, a prenup allows you both to be in control of what happens to your finances rather than letting the courts decide. 

Filing for divorce right after you move

People end their marriages for countless reasons and at different times in their lives. For example, some may push off their divorce until their kids have reached adulthood, while others may end their marriage after being married for a matter of months. Some people are in unique situations too, such as those who decide that their marriage needs to come to an end after recently relocating to a new home, a new city or even a different state. If you have recently moved with your spouse, there are different considerations you should go over when it comes to the divorce process.

For starters, you should be aware of the different stressors you may face during the divorce process. For some people, these can be even more challenging because of a difficult move they have recently been through. Furthermore, it is important to remember that some marriages fall apart after relocation for different reasons. For example, the stress associated with moving may cause a marriage to break down, or a couple may fight because one spouse wants to move back to the city they used to live in. Moving, along with divorce, can be very difficult and it is imperative to approach these matters from the right angle.

When children overhear talk of a divorce

Ending your marriage could present many challenges, whether you have uncertainty about how your future will be affected once you split up with your spouse or you have concerns about legal matters. However, all of these worries can be eclipsed by other issues, such as the impact your divorce may have on your child. Ending a marriage can be difficult for children, and they may wonder how their life will be affected by this huge life decision. Moreover, you may find yourself in a position where you have to explain your divorce to your kids even though you were not ready to tell them about it.

Sometimes, when parents argue and talk about divorce issues, kids overhear. Some children may keep what they heard to themselves, while others may become very emotional and have many questions. As a parent, you should try to protect your child and ensure his or her well-being, especially from an emotional standpoint when you are dealing with divorce matters. After all, this can be a time full of uncertainty and anxiety for children.

Domestic violence and child custody decisions

When there is domestic violence in the household, there can be lasting negative effects on the children. When processing a divorce in Massachusetts and figuring out child custody, the courts will look closely at any abuse report and take into consideration what is in the best interest of the child. When abuse is a factor in the decision-making process, the courts may grant supervised visitation to the accused abuser in order to keep both the child and ex-spouse safe.

According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, domestic violence can have serious effects on younger and older children in the home. Some of the issues children have include:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Increased levels of aggression
  • Social isolation
  • Confusion as to what is acceptable behavior
  • Loss of empathy for others
  • Decline in mental health 

Post-divorce communication with your ex

Many people know how important communication is during a marriage, and when a couple is unable to discuss things with each other this can lead to a divorce. Some people also talk with each other while they are in the process of splitting up, such as those who work with a divorce mediator. However, you may want to keep in touch with your ex after the divorce for many reasons. In this blog, we will examine some of the reasons why it may be important to maintain healthy communication with your former spouse, if you are able to.

When two people have kids, communication can be essential even if they are no longer married or living together. For example, you may need to reach out to your spouse over an issue regarding the division of child custody. You and your spouse may be able to work out various custody-related matters and ensure that your kids are being raised in a healthy environment that is good for them physically and mentally. You may also want to reach out to your spouse regarding child support or alimony payments, whether you are struggling to stay caught up or you are not receiving the payments that your former spouse owes you.

How to deal with your first holiday season without the children

Divorced parents in Massachusetts may be dealing with a number of issues around the holidays, and if it is your first holiday without your children, you may be dreading it. Whether you are newly divorced or your kids are spending the holiday with your ex-spouse, you are probably struggling with a variety of emotions. There are a number of tips that may help you get through the holiday smoothly.

According to Psychology Today, one crucial thing to remember about this first holiday is the children are especially upset and sensitive to the fact things are different. No matter what your feelings are towards your ex, it is important to remain civil and keep the lines of communication open. One way to deal with the holidays is to let go of past traditions and come up with new ones. Even if your kids are spending Christmas week with your ex, you can create Christmas traditions before or after so you still get to celebrate together.

Defend yourself from a restraining order

Couples who file for divorce in Massachusetts may have already tried many tactics to reconcile their differences and make the marriage work. By the time divorce proceedings begin, both are emotionally drained and often angry. A restraining order may be used to gain an advantage in the settlement or as a method of retaliation. At Armstrong Law, P.C., we have experience defending clients from misuse of a protective order.

It is possible to fight a restraining order if there is no substantial evidence for its issuance. According to FindLaw, it is imperative to file a response document and show up to the hearing prepared. Failing to appear in court could result in the judge discounting your response.

Property division: What you should know

There are many factors to negotiate when going through the divorce process. One of the most challenging may be that of property division. Whether you have just recently filed for divorce or are considering initiating the process, you may want to think about how the property and assets accumulated during the marriage will be divided in the divorce settlement. Massachusetts is an equitable division of property state, meaning the estate will be divided according to what the judge deems fair and just.

When deciding who is entitled to what in the final settlement, the judge presiding over the case may look at several factors, including the following:

  •          How long the marriage lasted
  •          Age, health and occupation of each spouse
  •          Vocational skills and ability to get a job
  •          The root cause for the divorce
  •          Whether alimony is involved
  •          Health insurance availability

How to handle the holidays and child custody

The holidays quickly approaching, and for many people in Massachusetts this is a festive time filled with friends and family. Unfortunately, for many divorced parents this is a time of the year that can be challenging, stressful and depressing. To keep conflicts to a minimum, you and your ex-spouse should discuss the holidays far in advance and make plans that work with everyone's schedules and are fair to the children. This will help ease some of the stress when the holidays do arrive.

According to FindLaw, one of the most important aspects when determining holiday schedules it to put the kids' needs first. This means being flexible and selfless while still meeting your wishes to celebrate with your children. It may take a series of discussions with your ex to determine who gets the kids when and to figure out specific details. 

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