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Common Divorce Law Terms Defined

 

Properly understanding and becoming knowledgeable in anything takes time. Research, studying and fully immersing oneself into something is the only way to truly pick up all the relevant information needed to know enough on anything. Divorce is no different. Attorneys who specialize in family law have studied for years to become as well informed on the subject as they are. Filing for divorce can be an emotionally trying event and process in general. However, going into it, knowing some of the basics is a much better way to enter, than going in and not knowing anything about anything. There are terms, laws, details and specific stipulations that are unique to each individual state. Some courts rule differently on the same issues due to this. Knowing some of the lingo and the processes for some of the most common occurrences in Family Law is a good way to get filled in and begin to understand just how divorce works. So, here are a few terms explained and dissected to help you along the way.

Petition for Dissolution of Marriage
This is a pleading document, filed with the court that initiates the divorce process. The person filing the Petition is called the Petitioner and they are the ones who are asking the court to dissolve their marriage or to legally sign off on the divorce requested.This petition must be filed to get the divorce process started. Without this form, no filing can begin, this is single-handedly the most important document in the process.

Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA)
This document, commonly known as the MSA , is the end goal of every divorce.  It is a contract entered into between the parties in question in the divorce filing.  It’s purpose is to draw specific guidelines between both parties as to how all of the community and separate assets and debts will be divided amongst them. It also addresses alimony if this is necessary, this varies on a case to case basis. The Marital Settlement Agreement is usually adopted as an order of the court by entry of the Final Decree of Dissolution of Marriage, which means that it can be enforced not only as a contract, but as a court order. In the event that the parties cannot agree on the terms of the MSA, the case will be set for trial by the courts. In cases such as this, assets and the like are divided up as the courts see fit, and sometimes both parties do not come away with property that they had hoped or expected to. This is another reason why the MSA is beneficial.

Final Decree of Dissolution of Marriage
This document is filed at the end of the divorce process; this is essentially the closing of the book, whereas the petition for dissolution is the opening. It is an order entered by the court granting the Petitioner a divorce from the Respondent. The final decree generally describes each party’s rights and responsibilities after the divorce with respect to property, debts and custody of any children. It essentially maps out absolutely everything for both parties, wiping out any type of discrepancies, concerns or anything of that nature. The details of those rights and responsibilities are typically laid out in an MSA or Parenting Plan, which the Final Decree incorporates by reference and adopts as an order of the court.

These terms and definitions should help you along the way. Getting to know the law is far from an easy process, however, learning small pieces of information such as these can really help you as you go through the process. It’s your duty to yourself to fully understand just what is happening in the entire filing process. Legal representation will be there to help you along the way should you opt for it, but it will do nothing but bolster your side of the case if you know the lay of the land.

Divorce Law Explained: the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act

 

Many spouses seeking a divorce have a multitude of questions concerning paperwork, lawyers, fees and a laundry list of other things. When children are involved in the mix, the amount of questions and concerns between spouses increases tenfold. Each state has standard guidelines, rules and stipulations concerning custody and child support. However, when it comes to the matter of children and child support when parents are in different states, the rules change a little. There are a number of different laws and addendum’s that have been put in place to ensure that the rights of the children in these cases are not overlooked.

Uniform Interstate Family Support Act
The UIFSA was put into place to limit the jurisdiction that can properly establish and modify child support orders and address the enforcement of child support obligations within the United States.The act provides a new framework for states to use in collecting child support where the child and the parent reside in different states. It made it easier for state courts to exercise jurisdiction in establishing and collecting child support.

Under the legal definition of the act, support is broad enough to include child support, spousal support, health care, and related costs and attorney fees. More significant, the Act refers to a “tribunal” rather than a court, because its provisions apply to any administrative agency that has the power to establish and enforce child support orders. Many states have child support enforcement agencies with these powers. Each state’s’ Family Law Court will decide who is to rule on matters such as these.

Statewide Implementation

In cases where more than one state is involved in the establishing, enforcing or modifying a child or spousal support order, the Act is implemented to determine the jurisdiction and power of the courts in the each of the states. The Act also establishes which state’s law will be applied in proceedings under the Act. The Act establishes rules requiring every state to defer to child support orders entered by the state courts of the child’s home state.

The Act also provides various direct interstate enforcement mechanisms. This means that, it allows a caretaker parent to have an order mailed to the employer of the obligated parent, which will require that employer to withhold pay for the benefit of the child. Furthermore, it allows the caretaker parent to have an order mailed to an out-of-state court to get the other state to enforce the order. This is only done in severe cases or cases where a parent has failed to pay support for a lengthy period of time.

Child custody and child support laws are some of the strictest and highly enforced. When divorce proceedings take place, these are usually the issues that are highly debated amongst parents. The separation of spouses can sometimes come with an out of state move, for whatever reason. This Act ensures that any child in this circumstance, is protected. The best interest of the child is the priority of the court, no matter which state.

Weird but True Divorce Stories from around the Web

 

Love can make people crazy; the world provides us many examples. Divorce however can induce behaviors that go beyond the scope of any sense of normal rational thinking. Even though it is the process of breaking up a bad or fruitless marriage people getting divorce sometimes feel to go out with a bang instead of agreeing this was a mistake and parting ways. The tug and war within relationships, even those entering the divorce process, excuse me, especially going through the divorce process can provide some hilariously disastrous results. If you’re going through a divorce or having a rough time processing the end of your marriage take a look at some of these extreme examples when keeping it real at the of the divorce process goes wrong.

Kid-ney or not kid-ney

We’ve all heard of returning wedding rings, or the splitting of assets and other such positions when divorces arise in couples. Here’s that scenario with a slightly organ-ic twist. A long island surgeon donated a kidney to his wife in 2001 which saved her life. After being embroiled in a bitter divorce for 4 years, part of his settlement was that he either wanted his kidney back from his wife or be handsomely compensated for it.  A separation over custody of body parts, that’s a new one. In his defense, the wife did admit to having an affair.

Mommy dearest

Being tight with your family is always a good thing. It’s always nice when you’re close to your parents, even as you get older, move out and attempt to start a family of your own. However there is a line that you generally don’t cross. In the realm of “What in the world were they thinking” marriage moments, an Italian groom decided he wasn’t ready to part with his dear mother yet, so he did what any normal person would do and brought her with him on his honeymoon with his new wife. Needles to say the wife filed for divorce shortly after citing “excessive emotional attachment.” In the man’s defense he claimed he couldn’t leave his mother alone for “health reasons.” But for guys, as a general rule, leave your mom at home when you’re going on your honeymoon, just to be safe.

Bird Chatter

Just when you think no one is listening in. A woman in China filed for divorce after suspecting and then getting confirmation that her husband was having an affair. The odd part is how she ultimately was convinced. The couple owned a pet Mynah bird, after some time she kept hearing the bird say things like “divorce” “I love you” and “be patient.” She also claimed the bird become increasingly talkative whenever the phone rang. Just goes to show you that you can’t always trust your pets with secrets.

Every relationship, failing or not has a different dynamic. Some are just taken to more extreme places then others. Reality can sometimes surprise us in its bizarreness.

Divorce can be no laughing matter to most people going through it. Crazy divorce stories aside, there are many different divorce laws created for divorce proceedings. In the United States each state has separate rules and stipulations involving the divorce process. Knowing the possibilities and preparing the future can help alleviate some of the stress that you might be going through. To learn about the laws in your state, or to begin your divorce process online, visit www.mydivorcedocuments.com.

Can Divorce Be a Private Affair?

 

For the rich and famous, being in the public eye, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week is normal. However, we mustn’t forget they are still people too. They go through the same trials and tribulations as anyone else that we may know. Their issues are just magnified because of the lens that they can never escape. So, is it fair that their lives are publicized for the world to see? What, under the law is to remain private? When divorce is thrown into this mix, its safe to say that nobody wants to air their dirty laundry to the world, famous or otherwise. So is it even a possibility for divorce filings to remain out of the public eye, for anyone?

Divorce Behind Closed Doors
Keeping divorce information private is something that in most cases, both spouses and lawyers would like to keep from being plastered on the front page of the local newspaper. The Good news is this is very much a possibility. Court records can be sealed and divorce documents can remain private. However, unless a juvenile case is the focal point of any filing, it is impossible to seal an entire judgment. This means that no matter what, reports will be filed and the majority of those are public record.

There are different laws in different states in terms of allowances of what and what cannot be filed in terms of a judgment pertaining to divorce. One way to keep judgments private is by going to “private judges.” To clarify, through arbitration and divorce mediation, orders are made by the arbitrators or mediators and these orders reference certain divorce related documents. It takes some effort if both parties want things private but as soon as one says no, it’s public.

Child Custody & Privacy
Regarding child custody and support issues, if both spouses cannot decide on an agreement and sign off on a legally binding contract saying as such, then they would need to go to a courtroom to have a judge decide the outcome of the issue. This would in turn, decrease the likelihood it would remain private. Typically, when there is a child involved, both parties usually want to keep things private, as this is in the best interest of the child.  When this is the motivating factor, it is more likely both parties will work together to achieve that.

Keeping divorce a private affair can be hard, but it also can be done. When small children, assets, property and anything of a personal nature are involved, many people want to keep the decisions being made to one another and handle it in house. Civil and private divorces are usually the most successful and  offer the most hassle free method of filing  for divorce.

Common Law Divorce: Myths Debunked

As more states begin to adopt into their laws the notion and recognition of common law marriage, naturally the notion of divorce is also going to appear. The U.S has an alarmingly high rate of divorce, and those of the same sex who are joined in matrimony are no exception. In some states, individuals can live together for a particular number of years and will be recognized by the state as “married,” even if they’ve  never had a legal wedding ceremony. Therefore, when those couples split up, it’s necessary to receive a common law divorce. By understanding the basics of common law divorce, individuals can learn how to obtain one.

Full Faith & Credit Clause
FFAC is the name usually given  to Article IV, Section 1 of the United States Constitution. This Clause addresses the duties that states within the United States have to respect the “public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state.” The clause’s application to state recognized and legal, same-sex marriages, civil unions, and domestic partnerships is however, unresolved, and so too is its relationship to the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment. As of the present, 39 states passed laws and constitutional amendments that define marriage as consisting solely of a man and a woman. Most explicitly prohibit the state from honoring same-sex marriages performed in other states and countries

Obtaining a Common Law Divorce

Now, even though there are some states that do not legally recognize common law marriages, there are states that do, all under certain circumstances. Only eleven states in the U.S. have provision for common law marriages, so unless you live or previously lived in one of those states with your partner under the conditions described by that state’s laws for the formation of a common law marriage, you’re not legally married and thus don’t have to file for divorce. Once a couple has been recognized as married through the common law marriage, they must obtain a divorce in exactly the same way a legally married couple would. They will have to petition the courts to work out issues such as child custody, division of assets and property.

Many hear “Common Law” and automatically think that the divorce process will be different for divorce amongst same sex couples. The opposite is true of this. In fact, obtaining legal certification of marriage between same sex couples is far more difficult than dissolving a marriage. This is due to the fact that many states simply do not legally recognize the act. There are so many myths and falsities floating through the subject of this, and to set the record straight, is to say that divorce, no matter who the spouses are, is entirely the same.

Technology: Changing Family Law Forever

Technology rules the world, plain and simple. Technology has its hand in everything in today’s day and age. It was only a matter of time before new laws were drawn up and integrated into the new and rapid growth of electronics and technology in the world. Divorce rates continue to grow in the U.S, just as the laws do. So it should be no surprise that new

77 Year-Old Marriage Ends

 

In a time where marriage is thought to have a 50% chance of ending in divorce, we often look to our grandparents’ generation for inspiration. Often asking the question of “How did they stay together?” or “What was different about those eras?” we find ourselves trying to figure out some sort of secret formula to make relationships and marriage work.

In truth there is no magic, the magic is a myth; people fall in love for different reasons, meet under different circumstances, and mesh together over many different facets of life that combine their personality traits and the environment in which they traverse together in. Sometimes someone can tell right away if someone is a match, and sometimes it takes decades for spouses to come to the conclusion that maybe this just isn’t working.

Age of the Absurd

In an age where celebrity marriages last a week, pet custody battles range up to thousands of dollars, and marriage is increasingly marginalized in society, comes a story that may be sad to some. But in truth, it’s just another example of what makes a marriage successfully, and that, no matter the situation, age, or how much you get along with your spouse, the truth is always more important than any other choice.

In 2012 we have seen our share of celebrity divorces dominate the news. Game shows, reality programs, and everything in-between have shown us the stark reality of just how absurd some people can be. Those with any significant amount of logic understand the real world without cameras can even be more stressful than those propped up scenarios involving people that are made to think they are “important.”

An Exercise in Real World Truth

Going back to our grandparents’ generation, we can stand amazed at how their families were able to keep it together. That is why this story seems so familiar despite its first glance perception. In 2012 an Italian man wanted to get divorced from his wife. He claimed to have discovered letters between his wife and another man, and when confronting his wife she admitted to the affair but begged him to stay together. Nothing totally out of the ordinary there right? The twist is that the man is 99 years old. The wife is 96. They have been married for 77 years, and the affair took place nearly 60 years ago. Despite his wife’s pleadings for them to stick together in their marriage the man is moving ahead with the divorce. When the divorce papers go through they will become the oldest divorced couple on record. Opinions on this anomaly situation will vary from “Why would they get divorced now?” to “What difference does the affair make 60 years later?”

The truth is, as always, that the truth wins out. No matter the shape, form, or age of a marriage, the same rules apply. There was no special relationship glue in the 1950’s and this story proves it. People are human, and are hurt by deception. Even at age 99 and over, something happened 60 some odd years ago that broke the trust and hurt a spouse. The truth and communication in a relationship and marriage is always the most important facets in its eventual success.

Disability & Divorce

The law has often been behind the times as far as rulings go on specific cases. Family Law is no exception. Many of the laws do not account for special and rare circumstances. There are many disability laws and regulations implemented in other areas of law, however, there are next to none when it comes to the matter of divorce. That is until now. The Illinois Supreme Court opened the door to divorce for people who need guardians because of mental disabilities just this month, and the realm in which Family Law now covers has broadened because of it.

For years, Illinois has been against guardians seeking a divorce on behalf of the mentally disabled people under their protection. That meant the disabled person could not get a divorce unless his or her spouse started the process. To say that this is a double standard would be an understatement. However, guardians were still looked upon as just that, and in no way were they an extension of the disabled person in question.

Before the Law was Implemented

The ban, when in place, affected people with severe brain damage, but it also covered those who could make their wishes known; for example those with Alzheimer’s, or anyone with a mental illness whose effects are not 100% permanent on a daily basis.

The court’s new ruling said an outright ban is no longer appropriate. It could leave vulnerable people “at the complete mercy” of spouses who abuse them or exploit them financially. Guardians will now be able to file for divorce and then a judge will decide if there is clear and convincing evidence that it would be in the disabled person’s best interests. In some cases, that will mean weighing the evidence without any help from the person directly affected. But in others, the people with disabilities will be able to speak for themselves. This obviously depends on the type of mental illness and the severity.

Who is Affected?
At first the restriction on divorce was meant to only affect people with severe brain damage, such as might be sustained in an accident, but ultimately the law affected people who had the ability to make their wishes known. Such individuals’ mental illness may come and go, or perhaps the person’s condition was Alzheimer’s disease. Mental disability rights advocates say that those conditions in themselves should not automatically bar people’s guardians from filing for divorce on their behalf.

Many of the advocacy groups feel that this recent ruling is a step in the right direction toward fully protecting the rights of the disabled. Under the new rules, the guardian of a disabled person will be able to file for divorce on that person’s behalf, and it will be up to a judge to determine on an individual basis what is in the best interest of the disabled partner.

Incorporating disability into laws, such as the ones under the Family Law statute, is a sign that the laws are coming into their own and becoming more adaptive to everyone. With a broader scope under the law, more and more people will have equal rights when it comes to the dissolution of marriage.

Massachusetts Alimony Law Changes

Each state has its own specific and detailed laws in regards to anything that falls under the Family Law tree. Obviously these laws vary state to state, depending on certain instances that only occur and apply to that state, for whatever reason that may be. So, it’s only natural that the state of Massachusetts has its own laws concerning such things as child support and alimony.

However, up until September of 2011, the laws and stipulations concerning alimony were not too kind to those who had to pay it, simply because of the fact that the rules were set in stone and certain circumstances affected those in a divorce quite negatively. That is, of course, until  Governor Deval Patrick signed Chapter 124 of the Acts of 2011. By doing so, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts effectively abolished most lifetime spousal support, thus joining several other states where alimony payment laws have changed. Many of these changes occurred because those who were forced to pay it could not, due to the fact that they were struggling in the current economy.

Significance of the Change

This new change in the measure generally ends alimony either when the payer reaches retirement age or when the recipient has cohabited with a another romantic partner for at least 90 days. With this new law comes a change in how alimony is properly calculated, based on the length of the marriage in question.

This being said the law does still allow judges to award indefinite alimony for long-term marriages. A long-term marriage is defined as a marriage lasting 20 or more years. In the case of short marriages, judges can order “reimbursement alimony” in such situations as when one spouse put the other through school during the length of the marriage.

Why the Change?
This is adjustment to the Massachusetts law was done so to end the previously common practice of judges awarding alimony as a permanent entitlement; such practice is becoming an increasingly rare practice across the U.S because it was seen as highly unjust and unfair. So now, the law sets guidelines for determining the amount of alimony payments. Signed in September 2011, the changes took effect in March 2012, which allows people who are currently paying lifetime alimony to file for modifications starting in 2013.

Tips for Moving on After Divorce

Moving past a relationship can be tough. This cliché has been reproduced in our society for hundreds of years. Love had and lost is a true theme of the human nature. We are all destined to encounter these types of situations at some point in our life.

All people react differently, but no one is immune to the negative emotions that surround this feeling of failed interaction between man and woman. Because it is inescapable to avoid these pains at one point or another, and divorces have become a prominent situation in our society, it has been stressed more and more as to how we can successfully move past these situations. What can you do to help yourself emotionally persevere?

Find a listener, and Forget About Revenge

Communication most likely was a part of the problem in your marriage; don’t let it follow you as you free yourself from a divorce. Two way constructive communications is important, not only for you to express how you feel but to get an outside and honest opinion about some of the things you may question. A long marriage can cloud your judgment and opinions in dealing with your now ex-spouse. A friend who can be objective and is willing to listen to you can be helpful because it is someone you can trust. However, no one should feel guilty about seeing a professional if they really need someone to talk to. We all have questions and problems within our life, and (truth be told) could all use someone with a professionally trusted opinion to help guide us at certain points in time.

Don’t get sucked back into revenge thoughts. We have all had those feelings. Wounded and left with no way to feel better except to inflict damage on the parties that wounded us. These are natural feelings; although they serve no purpose but to perpetuate the negativity and unhealthy behavioral pattern that might have led us into a harmful marriage in the first place. Most likely, no matter the situation, you can shoulder part of the blame for the way things turned out. Coming to terms with your role and accepting a portion of the blame will help you keep a level head and begin to understand that the best form of medicine is to start moving on.

Put more energy into your social life and broaden your horizons

Marital problems and significant schisms in your relationship can set your social life back from where you want it to be. A divorce can also do damage to your attitude at work and affect your productivity. In your post divorce life, focusing on your work or social life can be a helpful distraction and could possibly lead to positive things as you navigate new waters after many years of traversing rough seas. Nautical cliché references aside, many of us need distractions in trying times. Broadening our horizons and trying new things socially can help you both move on from the past and begin to create a positive future.

Moving forward through any negative phase in life can be emotionally stressful. Oftentimes we have to hit a certain “bottom” before we realize how low we have sunk. Avoiding these worst case scenarios and prolonging our misery will only keep setting us back on our road to recovery. Seeking out good listeners, someone to talk to, and trying new things will create positive distractions for as you attempt to dissociate from problematic time in your life. Moving on is never easy, but it’s up to you on how you react to these types of situations