Divorce & Family Law

November 14, 2018

How Are Child Custody and Visitation Established?

If you are going through a divorce and have children, child custody is arguably the most important matter you will have to deal with during the divorce proceedings. Although custody arrangements can be reviewed and modified until the child turns 18, it is very rare for custody to be changed from one parent to the other after the initial order has been established. This is why it is important to understand how custody and visitation (more often referred to as parenting time) will be determined. There are two types of custody, legal custody and physical custody. The parents may share both legal and physical custody, share legal custody but give one parent sole physical custody, or have one parent have sole primary and physical custody. As you will see below, even when one parent is granted sole custody, the other parent will still retain rights to the child. Legal Custody Legal custody relates solely to the decision-making rights regarding the child. A parent can have legal custody of a child without having physical custody. The parent with legal custody will have the authority to make decisions about the child’s medical, religious, and educational needs. If one parent is awarded sole […]
November 1, 2018

Would we benefit from a prenup?

My fiancé and I are not particularly wealthy, but we are established professionals. Should we get a prenup? You and your fiancé would be wise to consider a prenuptial agreement, or “prenup” as it has come You and your fiancé would be wise to consider a prenuptial agreement, or “prenup” as it has come to be known. In fact, most, if not all, couples would benefit from a prenuptial agreement. Objections to getting a prenuptial agreement usually come in one of two categories. The first kind asserts that there is no pressing need for the contract: “We don’t have anything financial worth fighting over.” The second appeals to sentiment: “It ruins the romance to talk about money” or, even more wishful, “We’re sure we won’t get divorced.” While no one goes into a marriage planning to get divorced, even the most optimistic couple should acknowledge that divorce is a possibility. While the statistics vary, a good number of American marriages will end in their dissolution by divorce. The wise bride and groom will have to address this possibility on their way into matrimony, rather than deal with the consequences of exiting matrimony unprepared. Even if you have “nothing worth fighting […]
October 14, 2018

Massachusetts Law: Divorce, Custody, and Child Protection

Massachusetts General Law (MGL) 208 covers divorce. This chapter of the laws of the Commonwealth describe everything from the definition of divorce to alimony, child support, and custody issues. Section 31A pertains to visitation and custody in the best interest of a child and covers abuse of parent or child. The best interest of the child is the primary determining factor in awarding custody. An abusive parent may not be awarded sole custody, shared legal custody, or shared physical custody. Custody arrangements must be in the best interest of the child. If one of the parents in a divorce or custody dispute has a history of being an abusive parent, then the court may deny custody or visitation or place restrictions. The court may order supervised visitation for the abusive parent. The abusive parent may be ordered to attend a certified batterer’s treatment program. They are often ordered to refrain from alcohol and other controlled substance during and up to 24 hours before a scheduled visitation. They may also be restricted from overnight visitation. The court may impose any other condition to provide for the safety of the child. Restraining orders are often issued when there is a request for […]
August 8, 2018

Mediate, Collaborate or Litigate in Divorce?

There are three ways to get divorced. The first is mediation. The husband and wife meet with a third party neutral, who is usually a lawyer or retired judge, to craft a Separation Agreement that meets their needs. Customarily, the issues are child support, alimony, parenting plan and division of the marital estate. The marital estate may include the marital home, investment accounts and marital debt. Sometimes the lawyers play an important role behind the scenes advising their clients on whether the proposed agreement is in their best interests. If the husband and wife trust each other, and that is a big “if,” then mediation can work. When the issues get complicated or more contentious, however, the husband and wife should consider a second option. This is the collaborative approach where they retain their own legal counsel through-out the entire negotiation. The trust factor is as critical here as it is in a mediated divorce. In a collaborative divorce, the husband and wife have their own legal counsel but agree not to litigate or threaten to go to court if the negotiations go sideways. If one party goes to court, then the collaborative law agreement states that the parties will […]
July 22, 2014

Domestic Violence Laws in Massachusetts

In the state of Massachusetts, domestic violence laws include physical harm or the intent to physically harm, the infliction of fear of physical harm, and involuntary sexual relationship against a family or other household member. This crime is especially serious if the victim was violated by the suspect while a protective order was in place. Definition of a household member: people who are or have once been married individuals that have children together individuals that are related through marriage or by blood individuals who live together are have lived together, such as roommates Assault can range from actual physical harm or the intent to commit physical harm against another individual. This means that even a serious threat to commit physical harm can be considered assault. Simple assault is in itself a crime, but in Massachusetts, assault against a family or household member is considered a much more serious offense. In addition, stalking can be considered domestic violence if it is proven that the suspect intended to cause bodily harm or inflict fear to a household member. Repeatedly calling, emailing, or attempting to contact an individual after it was made clear they want contact severed can be considered stalking. Stalking can […]
August 23, 2013

New Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines – August 1, 2013

The Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines have been revised and went into effect on August 1, 2013. You may read the official document:  Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines. Here are some of the highlights: 1.    If you have two or more children, there will be a slight upward adjustment in the amount of child support paid.  The adjustment will remain the same for one child. 2.    Income will be attributed to a spouse if the court determines that the spouse could be employed, or is underemployed and could be earning more. 3.    Modification of a child support order will occur when there is a deviation between the child support order and what the level of child support should be under the new Child Support Guidelines.
April 23, 2013

Parenting your children through divorce

The bottom line is, kids feel healthiest when their parents get along and divorce does not make things easier. There are several things you can do as parents to help manage parenting through your divorce. Breaking the News Depending on age, discuss the process openly in your family.  If possible, include both parents in the discussion.  Emphasize that while the family is changing, it is not ending.  Divorce means that a marriage is over, it does not mean that a parent’s relationship to his or her child is over.  Your children should feel secure that both their parents love them and neither parent will leave their lives.  Make sure they understand that the divorce is not their fault, that there is nothing that they can or should do to change things.  Remember to answer their questions with as much care and honesty as possible.  They will probably have quite a few questions, and answering them, repeatedly if necessary, will help them regain the sense of security that they’ve lost.  
March 29, 2013

Massachusetts Alimony Law and how it could affect You

The Massachusetts Alimony Reform Act was signed into law in 2011 and became effective a little over a year ago. This law brought about sweeping new changes in the way alimony is awarded in the state, and many orders issued prior to its enactment could be modified as a result. One of the biggest changes brought about by this act was the length of time a spouse may receive alimony. In the past, alimony was sometimes awarded for an indefinite period even when marriages lasted less than 20 years. The current law requires couples to have been legally married for at least 20 years before alimony will be awarded indefinitely. Those who were married less than that amount of time may receive spousal support for a period of time ranging from 50% to 80% of the number of months married depending on the length of the union. Alimony may be suspended under certain conditions including if the recipient later remarries. If he or she cohabitates with another for a period of time that exceeds three months, a judge may also order alimony be suspended. In most instances, payments will automatically cease when the spouse who is ordered to pay reaches […]
December 6, 2012

Options Available When Getting Divorced

Last night The Divorce Center and the Massachusetts Collaborative Law Council presented a joint program, entitled, Options Available When Getting Divorced, at the Watertown Public Library in Watertown, Massachusetts. Attorneys David Rubin, Miriam Kosowsky, Linda Sternberg, and Linda Cohan, a collaboratively-trained coach, explained the options that are available to individuals when they are getting divorced. Attorney Rubin, a trial lawyer in Framingham, said that the best approach depends upon the facts of each case. In situations where there is physical or emotional abuse, litigation is probably the best course of action. The filing of a 209A restraining order, for instance, may result in the issuance of a Stay Away Order to the spouse who is abusing the other spouse or children and an Order to Vacate the Marital Home. The purpose of this is to protect the victim from irreparable harm if the abuse is not addressed immediately. Once the situation at home is stabilized, the parties can come to court again to obtain Temporary Orders to address other issues, such as Child Support, Parenting Plans, Health Insurance and other matters.
November 30, 2012

Getting Divorced: You Have Options!

Join The Divorce Center and Massachusetts Collaborative Law Council for this Free presentation “Getting Divorced: You Have Options!” Wednesday, December 5, 2012 from 7:00 PM to 8:45 PM (EST) Watertown Free Public Library 123 Main St Watertown, MA 02472 Are you or a family member or friend thinking about getting divorced?  Are you a professional who comes in… Register here: Event is free