October 2010 Newsletter


Our pets are often our "babies," and it is not unusual for divorcing parties to disagree about who gets the dog, cat, or other treasured family friend.  Be aware that the courts will not enter custody and/or visitation orders for pets, and if language is included in any agreement for judgment, it will likely be removed by the Court prior to granting any approval on the Agreement itself.  Therefore, all issues related to these friends will need to be made in an agreement that is a separate agreement and/or not part of the divorce agreement.  Remember that such "side" agreements are not enforceable in Court should one party not comply.
Although the Court will not become involved in custody/visitation issues of animals, the Court will award animals to one party in rare exceptions.  In one Plymouth County case, there were no assets to satisfy an outstanding child support order, except a horse.  The Court ordered the horse to one party, as there were no other assets to satisfy the outstanding obligation.




The Parenting Plan is in place, there is a child support order being paid, and the retirement accounts have all been divided.  The only thing left is the personal property, the "stuff" that is accumulated during a marriage, such as furniture, televisions, computers, photographs, books, memorabilia, pots, pans, and dishes.  In most cases the children's clothing, personal possessions, and their bedroom furniture remain with the children.  Dividing up the other items may be problematic, as each Party wants the same items.  Unless the Parties have valuable collections, artwork, jewelry or similar items, the Court will not likely become involved.


Each Party will need furniture and other items to establish and furnish his/her home after the divorce.  There is an expectation that the Parties will share those items.  For example, if there were a dining room set and a kitchen set, each Party would get one set.  Four televisions?  Each gets two sets.  If you cannot decide who gets exactly what television set, or couch, you can have a system whereby one Party makes the first selection, and then the other Party picks, until all items have been allocated.  Photographs are easily shared, as one Party can either make a CD of the digital photographs, or if they are not digital, take the photographs to be copied, to obtain his or her own set. 


If there is a family heirloom, like that vintage pickle jar from Aunt Peggy, it usually goes back to the spouse related to Aunt Peggy.  Therefore, the division of personal property may be equitable, but not necessarily equal in value or otherwise.  If the Parties cannot agree as to how to divide the property, and/or there are antiques, newly bought electronic equipment, or numerous wedding gifts, it might be advisable to have an appraiser or auctioneer value the property to help move the process along.  Don't expect the Court's assistance in this area.  Also, remember that if there are two attorneys involved, you could easily spend more time arguing over who gets what, and incur fees well in excess of what that pickle jar or couch is worth!



1.    All restraining order and paternity files in Plymouth County are kept in Brockton?

2.    All other cases are filed in Plymouth?

3.    Most counties have "attorney of the Day Programs" in the Probate Court?

4.    These programs are supported by the local bar associations, and the lawyers volunteer their time?

5.    Interpreter services are available in any court within the Commonwealth?  If such services are needed, they must be requested well in advance of any hearing.

6.    Any time a financial matter is presented to the Court in Plymouth County, a current financial statement must be filed?

7.    Financial statements must be current, that is within the last sixty days?

8.    Financial statements must have copies of any 1099's and W-2's from the prior year attached to it?
Issue: 20

scales of justice

In This Issue
We Have No Children But A Very Special Dog/Cat. Can We Get Custody?
Pots, Pans, and the Pickle Jar: Who Gets Them?
Did You Know . . .?



It is not too early to be thinking about the holidays and parenting/visitation time.  November and December will soon be upon us, and it is essential to insure that provisions have been made for important holiday occasions.  If a hearing on temporary orders has not occurred, or is not scheduled for some time, holidays should be addressed as soon as possible.  The courts prefer that you not wait until the last minute to address these important times.  Save yourself unnecessary worry, and plan ahead, so you do not have to seek such orders on an emergency basis. 

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Susan C. Ryan, Esq.
Law Office of Susan Castleton Ryan, PC
(781) 982-8850

This newsletter is designed to keep you up-to-date with changes in the law.  For help with these or any other legal issues, please call our firm today.
The information in this newsletter is intended solely for your information .  It does not constitute legal advice, and it should not be relied on without a discussion of your specific situation with an attorney.