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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 things you should know about divorce under any circumstances.
Massachusetts recognizes both “fault” and “no-fault” divorces.

  • Massachusetts Courts divide property equitably–not necessarily equally. This means property and assets will be distributed in a way that the Court believes is fair under the circumstances.
  • Whether to award alimony, how much to award, and for how long is all left to the discretion of the Court.
  • In Massachusetts, both parents have a legal obligation to support their children.
  • If parents can’t agree on custody and visitation, a court will decide all custody issues.

If you decide to explore your options or start the divorce process now amid the covid-19 pandemic, our skilled attorneys and staff are here to help and support you. To learn your options or for advice on how to proceed during these unique circumstances, give our office a call.

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.

Conflict and negative situations are not the only reason to consider modifying a custody agreement, however.

Perhaps, at the other end of the spectrum, a mom can now spend more time with her children because of a promotion that allows her more control over her schedule. Or perhaps a ten-year-old custody agreement no longer works for a fledgling teenager because she prefers to live at her mom’s house as it is considerably closer to her new high school than dad’s, allowing her to participate in more extracurricular activities and sparing her a long commute in rush-hour traffic.

In these cases, it may be in the child’s or children’s best interest to file for a custody modification. If approved by the court, this modified agreement will supersede the original judgement or a preexisting temporary custody order.

In Massachusetts family courts, as in family courts across the country, children’s best interest and well-being are primary concerns. As such, any petition for custody modification must demonstrate that:

  1. Circumstances have substantially changed since the last custody agreement was approved
  2. The change is in the child’s or children’s best interest

When both parents agree to a change in the custody arrangements, they can jointly file for modification. Each parent could benefit from having a lawyer to help set out the details and wording of the petition and its filing. In general, a joint petition for custody modification is a fairly straightforward procedure.

In contrast, when one parent is applying for a custody modification the other does not want, it is highly recommended to have a lawyer. This applies whether you are the parent filing for a change or the parent opposed to a change.

Our partners are experienced family law practitioners. We can help make custody modifications easier on the whole family. Call today to schedule a consultation. We will discuss your family’s unique situation and design a plan to best serve your family’s needs.

What are the benefits of choosing mediation over litigation in a divorce?

When most of us think of divorce, we think of custody battles, endless legal filings, and costly court proceedings. The whole process of divorce can seem more daunting, and perhaps even more painful, than the emotional aspects of a marriage’s dissolution.

But what if there was another way? Another, more humane, more gentle, less expensive way?

There is: mediation.

Not every divorce is contested. If both parties agree that the marriage should end, it is a much simpler process than when one seeks to prevent the divorce, or when it is necessary to assign fault to one partner or another. What remains for the spouses is to agree on the division of property, alimony allocation, and child custody arrangements.

By meeting with a divorce mediator, such as one of our experienced family law attorneys, couples can work out the terms of their divorce face-to-face. The mediation process can save divorcing couples time, money, and heartache.

Once an agreement is reached by both parties, an attorney can help with filing a petition for divorce with the courts. The court will then review the property distribution agreement signed by the divorcing parties. Once approved by the court, the divorce will be final. The whole process from petition to grant of divorce could be only a month, as opposed to a months-long legal battle.

If you believe that divorce mediation is right for you, call our office today to arrange a consultation.

Child Custody Laws in Massachusetts – What You Need To Know.

Divorce is described as one of the most stressful events in a person’s life. Add children to the mix, coupled with questions of custody, support, and visitation, and emotions and stress can reach a breaking point. Wading through this difficult time calls for the help of a professional such as a divorce & family law attorney who also understands laws specific to Massachusetts.

Before you meet with an attorney, here are few pieces of information about child custody in Massachusetts that you’ll need to know in order to develop questions pertaining to your situation.

Two primary forms of child custody in Massachusetts

Physical custody determines where a child will live during certain periods of time.

Legal custody determines which parent has authority to make major decisions as in the doctor the child sees, the school the child attends, and even in which faith to raise the child. [Read more…]

The Best Interests of the Child in a Divorce

When you’re going through the divorce process and managing the child support and custody issues, you’ll hear the term “best interests of the child.” Generally, the court will consider the new family lifestyle after a divorce and where the court feels the child will best be able to adapt to the new changes. It is possible for you and your spouse to ease into your new family dynamic in order to make the transition easier on your child.

Amicable Relationship

In order for you and your spouse to best help your child through the divorce process, they should maintain an amicable relationship. While that may not be easy, especially at first, this is beneficial in helping your child’s transition into this new way of life. It’s best to avoid contentious debates about visitation, child support, visitation and other child-rearing issues. [Read more…]

What Can Be Modified in a Divorce Agreement

Having the provisions of a divorce agreement modified under Massachusetts law is possible, based on how the separation agreement was written and the circumstances bringing about the request for a modification. Before bringing your modification request to the court, you need to consult with an experienced divorce attorney.

The first thing to realize is that there must be a material change in circumstances to request a modification, such as an employment change, a significant change of residence, or change in income. These changes can affect custody agreements and spousal and child support.

When drafting a separation agreement, there are two types of provisions addressed in the agreement: surviving and merging. Merging provisions are open to modification. Merging provisions are generally child specific issues like custody arrangements, support, and health insurance. Sometimes alimony can be a merging provision. Surviving provisions are generally not open to modification. An example of surviving provision is the division of property. [Read more…]

Divorce and The Length of Your Marriage

When considering divorce, there are many things to consider like property division, child custody, alimony and more, but one important consideration that many couples overlook is the date. In Massachusetts the amount of time you were married might matter in a variety of ways. Here are just a few examples:

Dividing Assets

Figuring out exactly when a marriage is over can be complicated as some states look at the date of separation, but Massachusetts courts generally refer to the date of divorce. Assets acquired during the marriage through the date of divorce are joint property, so a bonus one spouse receives at a job might be divisible between both parties if it was earned before the date of divorce. [Read more…]

Divorce in Massachusetts: How to Get Started

Deciding to end a marriage is a difficult and stressful decision. But, the decision is only the first step in ending a marriage. Once you have decided that divorce is best for you and your spouse, the next step is finding an attorney. A law firm well-versed in Massachusetts law pertaining to divorce can help make the dissolution of your marriage as painless and smooth as possible.

When you begin looking for representation, it is important that you understand exactly what your needs are to choose an attorney best-suited for your situation. Below are a few basic things you should look for in a divorce attorney. [Read more…]

The Massachusetts Divorce Process

No one enters a marriage with the idea that it is going to end in divorce. However, for many couples a divorce is the only solution for an unhappy situation.

If you’re considering filing for divorce in Massachusetts, make sure you understand the two types of dissolutions available to you.

Uncontested Massachusetts Divorce

In an uncontested divorce (sometimes referred to as 1A) you and your spouse file a joint petition for divorce along with a separation agreement.

The separation agreement, usually drafted with the assistance of an attorney, reviews the equitable division of property, assets, debt, businesses, and inheritances, and clarifies issues surrounding child custody and support.

Additionally, where there are minor children involved, the parents must attend a parenting class.

The court may request other documents as well. These may include a financial statement, the marriage certificate, and written statements about the reason for dissolution. [Read more…]

Massachusetts Child Custody and Visitation Laws

Divorce is rarely easy, and even less so when it comes to custody and visitation arrangements for children. In Massachusetts, the top priority of the courts is to determine arrangements that are “in the best interests of the child”, but that may not always be as straightforward as it seems. This is not the time to try and do it yourself. Instead, the assistance of an experienced family law attorney/mediator will help.

Massachusetts recognizes shared legal custody, sole legal custody, shared physical custody and sole physical custody. When a couple files for divorce, the court will issue temporary orders regarding custody based on what is in the best interest of the child. During what can be contentious times, differing ideas about many aspects concerning the child including schooling and or religious upbringing of children may surface. Having an experienced family law attorney/mediator can make sure that these discussions and decisions remain on track and comply with the law. [Read more…]

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