Posts Tagged ‘Divorce Process’

On occasion, a spouse will separate and relocate without telling or notifying the other spouse. Most Court systems have a provision for granting a divorce when you cannot locate your spouse. The Court will usually have a procedure that allows service by publishing and mailing (to the last known address) notice of the divorce. Although the Court may decline to enter substantive orders (such as alimony or child support) without the presence of the other party, the divorce itself will almost certainly be granted.

Massachusetts was the first state to legalize same sex marriage, back in 2003, with the first same sex couples marrying in 2004. Now nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized same sex marriage and people talk of a “sea change” in marriage in the US (and, indeed, elsewhere, as similar changes have been underway in other countries, particularly in Europe). This raised the question of the constitutionality of DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, passed by Congress and signed into law by President Clinton (who has recently spoken out in opposition to the law) in 1997. In all, there are some 1,100 federal marriage benefits denied to all same sex married couples, regardless of whether they were legally married according to their state law. Beyond the questions of marriage benefits, however, there are also questions regarding the dissolution through divorce of any same sex marriage.

Obtaining a divorce for same sex couples is an area replete with difficulties, including issues of jurisdiction for divorce (your state may determine divorce based on residency, which will prevent the Commonwealth of Masschusetts from having jurisdiction to grant divorce even if the marriage was originally performed in Massachusetts), and a great many limitations on “standard” divorce practices due to the fact that same sex marriages are not recognized at the federal level. These limitations may include alimony, pension divisions, and limitations on bankruptcy provisions. This is an area where a very experienced divorce lawyer is often required.

Be prepared for your first meeting with your divorce attorney by planning ahead. A major step in this direction is to gather all of your Essential Papers in an Essential Papers File in a safe place. You will then bring this file with you to your initial meeting with your attorney, so that these items are ready for review at the start of the process.

What are Essential Papers? Documents such as copies of your tax returns for the past three years; the deed to your home and any other real estate, plus any items that may affect the cost basis of your home, including receipts for major repairs or renovations; your birth certificate; your marriage certificate; your passport; automobile title(s); insurance forms; bank account statements; outstanding debts; and stock certificates and other investment documents.

Also include a listing of names, addresses and contact info for key people or businesses such as your attorney, accountant, stockbroker, financial planner, creditors, and executor of your will and estate.

You may also want to consider recording a video of your home and its contents to document the value and appearance of the house and valuables. Keep this tape or digital recording with a list of valuables, including description, when and where acquired, original cost and current value (if a collectible), and where possible the serial number of the item (included with all electronics but not necessarily with other items), in a safe place, preferrably not in the marital home.

Armed with these items, your attorney will be better able to advise you from your very first meeting. However, if you think that divorce may be imminent, it is important that you get the advice of an experienced divorce attorney as soon as possible. Don’t delay doing this because you are gathering documents and information. Your divorce attorney will advise you on how to best proceed.

The information contained in this blog is for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. The use of this Blog does not create an attorney/client relationship between you and the Law Offices of Barry R. Lewis. If you are considering divorce or if you are involved in any legal matter, you should hire an attorney.

Massachusetts Divorce and Family Law
Attorney Barry R. Lewis — Divorce Law Specialist
Locations Throughout Eastern & Central Massachusetts :: 508-879-3262