What to do when your ex refuses to comply with your parenting schedule?

Once you’ve completed the process of going through a divorce, settling on child support, and agreeing to a parenting schedule, you’d think you can finally move forward and start your new life. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.

When you’re facing the frustrating reality that your ex simply won’t comply with your legally binding agreements, whether that be alimony payments or a parenting schedule, you have options. Massachusetts residents can file a complaint for contempt to address non-compliance with temporary orders and final judgments.

Understanding the ins and out of contempt proceedings is an essential part of litigation in the Probate and Family Court, which is why working with an attorney is vital. Anyone found violating a court order, such as failing to pay child support, denying parenting time, etc., may be considered to be in contempt of court.

The court can enforce a defendant to comply with the order(s) in violation by filing a contempt order. To begin the process, a Complaint for Contempt must be filed through the Probate and Family Court that issued the order being violated. Next, a court clerk provides a Contempt Summons—a court order that instructs the defendant when they are expected in court. A deputy sheriff or constable will then serve the defendant with the original summons.

The burden of proof in contempt actions falls to the plaintiff. For help understanding your options when your ex, or soon to be ex, fails to comply with a court order, contact our law office today.

My ex is refusing to pay court-ordered support. What can I do?

When a divorce is finalized, a divorce decree outlines essential information about the court’s decision. A divorce decree is an enforceable order by the court that both parties are legally mandated to follow.

Items outlined can include payment of child support or spousal support, a transfer of property, or specific visitation schedules. Unfortunately, too often, parties neglect or elect to ignore the outlined orders. This can greatly harm the spouse, who is dependent on support. While the penalties to the offending party for these transgressions can be severe, the spouse being affected is required to file a claim to make the court aware of the transgression. [Read more…]

Altering Your Child Custody Agreement

  • My ex-spouse has asked to pick up our children, of whom we share custody, at a different time from that stated in our custody agreement. I’m fine with the change. Do we need to alter the agreement, or is a verbal agreement enough?

The is almost always going to be “get it in writing.” While you may have the most amicable divorce in the world, you never know what the future may hold. Contracts fill the gaps left when human trust fails.

If this is a one-time, or two-time situation, a verbal agreement might suffice. Of course, without putting it in writing, if you agree to a “quick change,” you may find yourself agreeing to a years-long arrangement without intending to. [Read more…]

My Kids Hate the Custody Arrangement – What Can I Do to Change It?

Even in the best of circumstances, divorce can be difficult for children. Children are often resistant to change: adapting to new schedules and surroundings, learning to live with one parent at a time, and getting along with possible new stepsiblings or half-siblings are all big changes, ones which can challenge a child’s developing social skills and coping mechanisms. However, many, if not most, children with divorced parents eventually adapt and thrive, growing into healthy and well-adjusted adults.

There are cases, however, where a child’s discomfort with a custody arrangement goes beyond natural resistance to change, beyond the fairly standard complaints of “I don’t like it here” or “I like dad’s house better.”

Perhaps there is serious, ongoing, and frequent conflict between the child and one of the custodial parents, a conflict that makes living with that parent a deeply anxious situation for the child. Perhaps the conflict is with a stepparent or stepsibling and a child’s grades are dropping as a result of the distress. [Read more…]

What is a ‘gray divorce’ and how is it different from the typical divorce?

A ‘gray divorce’ refers to a split that happens between an older husband and wife, often after many years of marriage. The ‘gray’ in ‘gray divorce’ refers to the color of the divorcing couple’s hair. With more and more couples over fifty, or even over sixty-five, choosing to part ways, the phenomenon has also earned the names of ‘silver splitter’ and ‘diamond divorces.’ While it might be unsettling to think that forty years of marriage is no guarantee for many more, it is necessary to think about the particular issues that arise when senior citizens divorce.

Contrary to what the media would have you believe, gray divorces do not typically come about as part of a man’s midlife crisis. Rather, they are an outgrowth of advancements in medicine and changes in society. With people living longer than ever before, it is getting harder to “grin and bear it” in a lackluster marriage, and people are less tied to ideas of how senior citizens “should” spend their retirement.

With children grown and living on their own, gray divorces do not involve acrimonious custody disputes. However, for well-established couples, there will be extra concern for the division of property and alimony awards. With couples approaching retirement, or already retired, issues of income and savings are critical to both parties’ well-being.

If you or someone you love are involved in a ‘gray divorce’ situation, call our office today to speak with skilled family law attorneys about the best course of action.

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.

 

 

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