What are my rights during the divorce process?

Additional Info: My husband has moved out of our home in Natick and changed all the passwords to our bank accounts. Can he legally do this before we get divorced?   I am a stay at home mom.  How am I supposed to live and take care of the kids with no access to our financial accounts?  What do I do?

Attorney Answer:

If a complaint for divorce has already been filed with the Court, then there is a Rule 411 automatic restraining order that is in effect on the plaintiff (i.e., the filing party) upon the filing of the complaint and on the defendant once he/she has been served.  You make no mention as to whether a complaint has been filed or served.  Assuming there was, your husband is in contempt of court and you should file a complaint for contempt immediately.  If nothing has been filed, you should consider filing a complaint and having him served as soon as possible.  You can include a motion for temporary orders requesting child support and spousal support, etc.  You may even get the Court to order that your husband pay for your attorney’s fees for the divorce (pendent lite).

In any event, during the discovery phase, you can obtain records for all accounts and the Court will certainly take into account what your husband did and what assets he dissipated (or moved around) when it makes an order for an equitable division of the marital estate.  There are cases in which a Court has ordered attorney’s fees when one spouse has purposely dissipated assets just so the other spouse would get nothing, plus ordered that the wronged spouse be compensated for what his/her share would have been had the assets never been dissipated.

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