How Long Will It Take To Finalize My Divorce in MA?

Attorney Answer:

The divorce process can oftentimes prove to be a long and drawn out process especially when it is filed as a contested divorce under Massachusetts’ contested divorce statute. Delay in the process is common when there are highly contested issues regarding child custody, child support, alimony, and/or division of the marital assets etc. When parties cannot come to an agreement on these issues, the process is set on track by the court and can sometimes take longer than a year or more to resolve as there are typically multiple court hearings that parties must attend as well as extensive discovery procedures that must be completed prior to trial.

On the other hand, finalizing a divorce is usually much timelier and more cost efficient when filed under Massachusetts’ uncontested divorce statute. The reason for a more time efficient result is because it is much easier to schedule an uncontested hearing as all of the other required formalities are usually completed prior to or simultaneous with filing of the uncontested petition. Thus, an uncontested divorce can oftentimes be finalized in just a few months of filing for divorce.

Can I just stop paying support to my ex-spouse?

Additional Info: I recently lost my job and can no longer pay my weekly child support obligation. Can I just stop paying support to my ex-spouse?

Attorney Answer:

NO! You are obligated to follow the exact terms of all Court Orders. If there has been a material change in circumstances and you are no longer able to comply with any term of a Court Order you cannot simply just stop abiding by said term. You must file a modification action with the appropriate Court seeking a modification of the order based on a change in circumstances. In doing so you must be able to show that there has been a material change in circumstances since the order went into effect.

What can I do to make her abide by the Court Order?

Additional Info: My wife and I are in the process of divorcing. We have gone to Court and a Temporary Order was issued regarding the care and custody of our children but she refuses to follow the order now. What can I do to make her abide by the Court Order?

Attorney Answer:

When one Party refuses to abide by the terms of a Temporary Order or Final Judgment of the Court, the method to enforce any such order is by means of filing a contempt action. By doing so you are asking the Court to compel the non-complying party to comply with the terms of what has previously been ordered and or adjudged. In order to prevail on a contempt action, the moving party must prove a clear and unequivocal violation of a Court Order. Short of proving said standard a Judge cannot rule in your favor.

Married for 22 years and contemplating divorce

Additional Info: My Husband and I have been married for 22 years. I am contemplating divorce. He says if I leave he’s keeping every thing including the house. Can he really do that?

Attorney Answer:

In long term marriages, typically speaking the Court’s intent is to equalize the parties.

While there are a number of factors the Court will consider under the Massachusetts Divorce Statute including the length of the marriage and each party’s respective contribution to the marital estate, as a general starting point in a long term marriage the Court will look to equalize each person and divide the marital estate accordingly. The reason for this philosophy is that while one party may have earned significantly more than the other over the course of the marriage, usually the lower earning spouse’s contributions involved caring for the children and running the household. The Court recognizes such contribution as significant for purposes of dividing the marital estate.

In addition, if the house is considered a “Marital Asset” it too will be subject to division. If one party refuses to cooperate in dividing the property, whether by means of sale or transfer, the Court will rule on said issue and ultimately make the final determination.

Will child support change?

Additional Information: 

My ex-wife and I have been divorced for 3 years.  If I get remarried, does that effect my current child support payments?  I heard that my new wife’s income may count towards total household income and I would have to pay more.

Attorney Answer:

Contributions from other household members towards the expenses that you list on your financial statement should also be listed on your financial statement. However, your new spouse’s income should not be included for purposes of calculating the child support guidelines which are used to determine the amount of child support that you can expect pay.

 

 

How does the new alimony law in MA affect my situation?

Additional Info: I am getting a divorce. My wife is a neurological surgeon and has her own private practice in Methuen, MA so she makes significantly more money than I do. I know I will be entitled to alimony but could you please tell me how the new alimony law in MA and what I may receive?

Attorney Answer:

The MA Alimony Reform Act of 2011 provided some clarity to an area that has been historically uncertain for litigants and practitioners alike. Previously, in a longer term marriage there were no term limits on the amount of time a person could expect to pay or receive alimony. Today, in the wake of approval by the legislature of the Alimony Reform Act in Massachusetts, the length of time an alimony award is to go for is very certain as it is based on a formula defined by the total number of months of the marriage. In addition, the act also specifies that the amount of an alimony order should generally not exceed the recipient’s need or 30%-35% of the difference between the parties’ gross incomes established at the time of the order being issued.

Visitation schedule for teen age daughter

Additional info: I have been divorced for 10 years and live with my 16 year-old daughter in Andover, MA. She doesn’t want to visit her dad 1 1/2 hrs away every other weekend. She’s a teenager and has a busy sports schedule and social life. What rights does my daughter have and what legal responsibilities do I have regarding the matter?

Attorney Answer:

This is a common issue that often arises as a child grows older. It is vital to remember that the child is still a child, and does not have the authority to make the decisions regarding parenting time or otherwise. As equally important to remember, when there is a Court order in effect, a party could be subject to the possibility of Contempt proceedings if they are not in compliance with said Court Order. In this case, if the child ceases visiting with her Father, he could seek intervention from the Court and Mother would be faced with impending litigation.

What are the different types of child custody?

It is crucial for divorcing parents to understand that there are different types of Child Custody. The term Physical Custody denotes where the child will actually live. Parents may agree that there will be a shared Physical Custody arrangement or that one parent will be the Primary Physical Custodial with an appropriate Parenting Plan to ensure that the child spends time with each parent.

The term legal custody denotes who will make all of the major life decisions regarding the child’s education, health decisions and all around decisions affecting the child’s livelihood. In cases where parties are able to effectively communicate it is common that Legal Custody be shared.

How is child support determined?

Child Support is determined in accordance with the Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines formula and based on a report of the Massachusetts Child Support Taskforce which outlines what income shall be considered for purposes of calculating support.

What is the divorce mediation process?

Mediation is an excellent resource that divorcing couples often utilize as it is a cost and time efficient method of resolving issues. We offer a structured Divorce Mediation Process. Typically, couples require between 3-5 sessions generally lasting between 1-2 hours. You will be provided with a documentation package that includes information on commonly asked questions along with a checklist outlining many of the common issues that divorcing couples are faced with including Child Custody and Parenting Plans, Child Support and Division of Marital Assets. Once we have discussed and resolved all of the contested or undecided issues, our office will prepare a package of all of the documentation required to be filed with the Court.