divorce

May 27, 2020

When Your Co-Parent Is an Essential Worker

Custody and COVID-19 These are difficult times for everyone, but for divorced and blended families there are particular and unique challenges. Many of these challenges center around custody. In a time when travel is discouraged and transportation—by plane, train, or public transit—is limited and fraught with worry, moving children between households, especially across great distances, is difficult. Also, there are concerns about safety. When the other parent lives in another state where social distancing restrictions are much laxer, it may create anxiety about children’s safety. After all, there is much still unknown about this virus, but there is growing evidence that children can suffer a delayed inflammatory response to coronavirus infection. Moreover, even if a child recovers quickly, there is a risk for a child passing the disease onto a diabetic parent, immunocompromised sibling, or fragile grandparent. Complicating factors is when the other custodial parent is an essential worker, whether a doctor, nurse, public safety officer, or grocery store worker. Again, while the virus remains mysterious, scientists generally agree that front-line workers are at a higher risk for exposure to the virus. There is also a significantly increased risk for front-line workers to bring home COVID-19 to their families. Searching […]
April 30, 2020

Divorcing During COVID-19

When your relationship is already strained, living under quarantine conditions can quickly shed light on a troubled marriage. Whether you’ve been contemplating divorce for a while or the stress of recent events has become the straw to break the camel’s back, so to speak, our attorneys can help you understand the divorce process and your options. During these unprecedented times, we are all taking a look at our lives and examining our relationships. Perhaps the tiny cracks in your relationship have turned into irreparable gaping holes. With a newfound outlook on how we see our futures, some couples may decide to part ways. If you’re among those wondering if you can file for divorce during the covid crisis, the answer is yes. While we do not know when the Court will reopen to petition your divorce officially, we can get the ball rolling. While some judges and court employees are working from home, any new or scheduled cases that involve oral argument will likely be postponed for several months. However, if you and your spouse are able to reach a settlement between attorneys, you may be able to process your divorce through the family court system faster. Below are some […]
December 20, 2019

Holiday Custody

The winter holidays may be the most wonderful time of the year, but they are also a top contender for the most stressful time of the year. Regardless of family structure, holiday gatherings and visits can be contentious. Under the stress of cleaning and cooking and visiting in-laws, even close-knit nuclear families, amicably divorced co-parents, or happily mixed step-families might experience some tension and conflict around this time of the year. Given the stress of preparing for holidays, and the emotions invested in family celebrations, it is more important than ever for there to be good channels of communication about scheduling. When child custody agreements are involved, communication is even more important, especially if custody arrangements or their enforcement have been contentious issues in the past. Many shared custody agreements drawn up as part of the divorce settlements will specify holiday visitation and custody rights for each parent. For example, one parent may have the children for Thanksgiving and New Year’s, with the other parent having Christmas and the surrounding days. In the next year, the parents might swap time periods, following an alternating schedule laid out in the custody agreement. Changes happen, however. A flight back from a visit […]
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.
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