This is a question I get asked all the time and I should’ve answered on this blog a long time ago.
How is alimony calculated and how is property divided in a divorce?
First, in an uncontested divorce, those issues are decided by the husband and wife. They work it out between themselves. In the case of a contested divorce where the husband and wife cannot agree, then they must leave it up to a judge to decide.
Probate and family court judges must rely on a number of factors to guide them in their decision as to which spouse should get what. These are more commonly called Section 34 factors. They are:
- Length of the marriage
- Conduct of the parties during the marriage
- Parties’ age
- Parties’ health
- Parties’ station in life
- Parties’ occupation
- the parties’ source and amount of income
- Parties’ vocational skills
- the parties’ employability
- the parties’ estate
- the liability of each party
- the parties’ individual needs
- the chance of future acquisition of the parties
- the parties’ respective contribution, preservation and appreciation to the marital assets
- whether one of the parties was a homemaker
The judge would also look at the needs of the children when making a property division but the judge cannot look to the needs of the children when making an alimony determination – that is a child support issue and covered by another statute.
Unfortunately the title of this post is untrue. Sorry. No law firm, my firm included, can expedite a divorce through the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court system simply by paying extra money. A divorce in Massachusetts cannot legally and practically be accomplished in 1 month, 2 weeks and definitely not 72 hours!
The fastest an uncontested divorce can be accomplished is 121 days IF everything worked perfectly. However, on average, an uncontested divorce will take about 5-6 months to finalize.
Some attorneys will tell you that expedited divorces can be done through “walk-ins” in the divorce court. Although that might be true for some courts, it is not true for all courts. Due to budget cuts, many courts in Massachusetts cannot accommodate walk-in divorces. In addition, even if you managed to walk-in a divorce on that same day and see a judge to approve the divorce, by law, you must wait 120 days after seeing a judge for the divorce to be final.
Some attorneys will also promise expedited service but either not tell you about the 120 day or put it in fine print that their expedited service is subject to statutory law and judicial scheduling. What that means is that they cannot make it go faster than 120 days.
Therefore by law, a divorce can never be faster than 121 days or 4 months.
WedLock, a new company in North Carolina is touting itself as the first company to offer Divorce Insurance. The purpose of this “insurance” is to provide you, the future divorcee, with funds after divorce after your spouse has financial decimated you and deprived you of any real hope of being successful.
“There is nothing to stop your spouse from raiding those investments and taking it all. And then with all the money gone, you’re left with all the legal bills,” said [John A. Logan, chief executive officer of SafeGuard Guaranty]
This sounds to me like the product of an angry divorcee but one who is not typical. Not every divorcee leaves a marriage in ruins and financially unable to care for themselves. Insurance like this makes no sense because presumably if your spouse had a good attorney, they would be able to raid the insurance fund as well.
My advice would be to save your money for something worthwhile – like a marriage counselor.
Divorce Insurance (Yes, Divorce Insurance) (via NY Times Blog)