family law

September 4, 2020

Divorce When Only One Partner Lives in Massachusetts

Many married couples live separately, even across state lines, for reasons which have nothing to do with the health of their marriage. However, when living across state lines from each other, couples may find their marriage at a crossroads and begin considering divorce. Perhaps distance has created serious problem in the relationship or laid bare preexisting problems. Perhaps one partner has moved away, even across state lines, as part of a trial separation. Or perhaps a history of domestic violence and a need for safety has compelled one spouse to put considerable distance between his or her person and the other spouse. As the coronavirus pandemic continues to disrupt life, some people may find themselves stymied by closed courts, recommendations against travel, and derailed moving plans. Many are wondering how to file for divorce in Massachusetts. Whatever the circumstances that have led to divorce, if one member of a couple lives in Massachusetts and the other does not, there are certain requirements that need to be met before filing for divorce. Divorce in Massachusetts: An Overview First, it is helpful to review the types of divorce available in Massachusetts, as these rules can have an impact on whether a spouse […]
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 […]
April 15, 2020

Staying Safe and Saying NO to Domestic Abuse During COVID-19

Strict stay-at-home orders implemented for safety have placed abuse victims directly in harm’s way. Safety measures recommended to limit the spread of the coronavirus pandemic have led to a rise in domestic abuse. For many, this is not a surprise as domestic violence goes up whenever families spend more time together. With families in quarantine and isolation worldwide, stress-levels are at an all-time high. The uncertainty of the future can increase anxiety for many. Coupled with unemployment and financial stress, tension among households is sure to rise. With the children at home all day, empty refrigerators, low bank funds, and forced interactions, families everywhere are facing conflict, creating the perfect storm for abusers to intimidate and inflict harm on their victims. While conflict doesn’t always explode into violence, many living in isolation from their support network have nowhere to turn when violence erupts. As routines change and families are stuck in the confinement of their homes, reports of domestic violence are increasing nationwide. The commonwealth of Massachusetts has very stringent laws in place to protect domestic violence victims. Such laws apply to people who: are or were married are or were living together are related by blood or marriage have children […]
April 10, 2020

Co-parenting in the Face of Coronavirus

Amid the spread of COVID-19, we are all facing unprecedented times. As this pandemic continues, regulations regarding safe practices change daily. One thing on the mind of parents sharing custody is whether or not their court order is enforceable. Rest assured, custody, visitation, and placement are in effect and continue to be enforceable during this period of time. Court-ordered arrangements remain obligatory and should be followed accordingly. Any parent planning to use the pandemic as a reason to deny access to another parent can expect the courts to come down hard on parent agreement violations. Many judges view time of crisis to be particularly critical times for children to maintain some form of normality. In cases where parents are willing to work together, they should consider the following: which parent has better resources for the child to complete distance learning, if one parent has a high-risk job, the health of family members, social distancing rules, etc. In the unfortunate event that a parent is required to self-quarantine or is restricted from having contact with others, efforts should be made to allow for parenting time by video conference or telephone. A critical aspect of co-parenting that may be affected is where […]
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 […]
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 […]
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.
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