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Massachusetts divorce questions

Attleboro, MA |

My husband earns $84,000 MORE than me. We have 2 school aged children & have been married 13 yrs. In the past I worked, then was at home w/kids for a few years, but am working part time now. He says he will never let me live in our house with our kids after we split up. He's not trying to take them away from me, just thinks all of us should just move...him separately and me with the kids. I'm willing to live in the house and take care of it. I'm capable of working full time now and earn more money than I do now. My name is on that mortgage. Can he do this? He says he'll quit his job if I live there and also won't pay me alimony, which I'm not concerned about anyway. What's it mean that MA is a no fault divorce state? I'll admit I had 2 affairs. Will that matter to a judge?

I will add that the affairs were over a decade apart. Each time we've gone to marriage counseling, and this time I see my own therapist to deal with my own issues, and am making great progress. He's unwilling to take into consideration my mind-set when this 2nd one happened (death of a parent, he treated me like he was my drill-seargeant = mental breakdown for me.) Not trying to excuse my behavior. But I've asked him to hang in there while I work on my own issues so then we can work on ours together. He won't. He'd rather be angry and not try to look forward. I don't blame him, but am wondering if any of that will be considered by the judge? He just wants to punish me. I have taken full responsibility of these affairs. I'm more concerned about the well-being of our kids.

Attorney Answers 6

  1. Since it sounds like your husband is very angry about the situation it might make sense for you to consider divorce mediation. You and your husband would work with a neutral third party to help figure out the parenting plans and financial issues in coming to a comprehensive divorce agreement. Mediation would help the two of you figure out what the real issue is and come up with a plan that would be in the best interest of the children. Generally the issue of fault only is a factor in financial matters when the fault was financial - meaning one person actually reduced the marital assets through for example, gambling or drug addiction.

    This answer is not intended to provide legal advice or to create an attorney client relationship. Tracy Fischer is a certified divorce mediator and attorney with offices in Newton and Danvers MA.

  2. It's possible that you will be able to keep the house until such time as your children go away to school. The court's primary concern is the children, and if the children have lived in the house for a significant amount of their lives, the court would prefer to keep the house in the possession of which parent handles the primary care taking of the children until such time they are either emancipated or go to school. In lieu of a sale upon divorce, the court could divide the remaining assets of the marital estate in a manner in which you "buy out" your husband from his share of the value of the house, among other possibilities. It all depends on the complete picture of the assets and obligations of each spouse, but it is common for the court to delay the sale of a marital home until the children have left.

  3. First, do not worry about the affairs. People make mistakes, and these affairs will not affect the outcome of the divorce, the amount of child support, or division of the marital estate. It does sound like the marital home will be a major issue in the divorce, and while your husband is angry, and is saying things motivated by that anger, in the end the Court, and not your husband will make the decision of who - if anyone - may stay in the marital home.

    This can only be determined after a complete financial picture of the marriage is viewed, and after a proper division of all of the marital assets and debts is carved out. You should contact an experienced divorce attorney to guide you through this difficult time, and stay strong, for your children and for yourself. While this time will be a difficult one, this chapter of your life will be over soon, and a new chapter will begin.

    Good luck!

  4. Hi. I'm sorry for the situation your in. I can only imagine how difficult it must be. To answers your question, the marital home would likely be sold and the equity, if any would be split between the two of you. However, if you are the primary parent for the minor children, then you could make an argument to remain in the house with the kids until they are 18. He would have to help pay the mortgage and taxes with perhaps a reduction in child support payments. When the kids turn 18, the house can then be sold and the equity to be divided equally. You say he may "quit" his job. Unfortantely for him, that is no bar to paying support, the courts will likely look at his historical earnings and untimely reasons for quiting his job in assessing his final support obligations. Hope that helps! Feel free to contact me if you have any further questions.

    Legal disclaimer: The above answer is not legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship.

  5. The fact that you had affairs will have no impact on how the court adjudicates your divorce unless the affairs drained the marital asset pool. The same goes for mismanagement of the financial affairs – you can’t be blamed for poor budgeting, but squandering the assets on other things might be a problem (affairs, gambling, alcohol, drugs, etc.).

    The courts will attempt a fair and equitable division of marital assets, presumptively 50/50, but that is rebuttable under the fair and equitable standard. The court will also seek a custodial determination that is in the best interest of the children and as mentioned previously, that may include maintaining the marital home for the custodial parent and children until the children are older. Since you seem to have been the primary care taker, you would probably be granted physical custody of the children and your husband would have to contribute to the children’s support in accordance with the Massachusetts Child-Support guidelines.

    Your husband may be angry, but he has no veto power of the process. He can not unilaterally force you out of the home and quitting his job will not reduce his liability to the children.

    This is not legal advice and is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. You should speak to an attorney for further information.

  6. Your affairs are largely irre

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