Common Questions About Massachusetts Divorce

FAQs About Massachusetts Divorce

Q: What will happen: If two people were separated but not divorced yet and the husband said it was ok for her to go to Virgina to visit family for Thanksgiving and now is taking it back and threatening if she goes he will file charges. Is this legal? Can she go without getting in trouble?

Bill’s Answer: If you are going only for a Thanksgiving visit and not for an extended period of time, this should not be an issue. If a divorce were filed, it would be prudent to obtain either permission from the other parent or a court order. But as nothing is filed, that’s not necessary. Also, in my opinion, there would be an insufficient basis for a criminal charge.

Q: Spouse successfully served div papers by sheriff but now contesting, refuses to sign in front of the notary. Will it still move fwd?: Filed for divorce in August. My spouse was successfully served by the sheriff & signed the return of service in his presence. Is it still necessary to have the paper signed in front of a notary as well? Now that he has been served he is refusing to sign the papers or to see a notary but I’m wondering if they will move forward with the case since he was successfully served by the sheriff?

Bill’s answer: If served by the sheriff, there’s no need to have the return of service signed in front of a notary. All you need is the return of service from Sheriff, so you can file it with the original raised-seal summons.

Q: Can an inherited property be brought to the table in the division of assets in the state of Massachusetts?: My wife and I are divorcing. She inherited fifty percent of a house. Is Massachusetts a community property state or a separate property state.

Bill’s answer: MA is not a community property state. However, ALL property whether owned jointly or individually is subject to division. Judges have a lot of discretion on what to do with the inherited property.

Generally, the longer the marriage, the more intertwined (mixed in) the inherited asset was with marital finances, the more the non-inheriting party contributed to the inherited asset’s maintenance/management and improvement, and the more the parties were relying on the inherited asset for retirement, the more likely it is that the non-inheriting party will receive some portion of the asset.

Also, especially in a long-term marriage, even if the non-inheriting spouse is awarded no portion of the inherited asset, judges may award that spouse a disproportionate amount of the other assets (e.g. give that spouse 60% of other assets).

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