Divorce Modification in Massachusetts

Once a divorce is finalized, the documents are filed with the courts. However, life is unpredictable and circumstances can change over time. In Massachusetts, if an earlier court order or judgment no longer suits the parties because circumstances have changed in a significant way since the order or judgment was issued, the court can “modify” the prior order or judgment. Cases where a modification might be appropriate include those where the children are significantly older than at the time when the last child support order was issued, or where a person ordered to pay alimony has retired and now has a substantially smaller income than at the time he or she was ordered to pay alimony. Sometimes a party may want to change an order or judgment because there is a legitimate need to do so, and it would be unfair not to allow a change. For example, when there
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Massachusetts Cases Provides Guidance for Child Custody Issues in Same-Sex Divorces

Massachusetts was a leader in its early recognition of same-sex marriages. Logic dictates that the Commonwealth will also have more experience with same-sex divorce and family law matters, including child custody and support issues in cases involving the dissolution of a same-sex marriage. Three Massachusetts cases do, in fact, reflect that experience. In a 2006 same-sex divorce case (A.H. v M.P., 447 Mass. 828), one partner never adopted the child of her partner, although she was well aware of the importance of pursuing a formal adoption. Her former partner was the child’s primary caregiver. The court determined that she had no legal right to parenting time and had no support obligations as a “de facto” parent. The result in this case indicates how critical it is for one partner in a same-sex marriage to adopt the other partner’s biological child if the first partner desires to continue to have a
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What You Need to Know About Child Custody in Massachusetts

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. Sole vs. shared
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Dealing with False Allegations During Child Custody & Divorce

It seems like everyone knows a story about false allegations during child custody and divorce. One spouse points the finger at the other and receives a restraining order from the court. The wife or husband recognizes that doing this will, almost by default, give them custody of the children and exclusive use of the family home. The accused parent then must defend themselves in court and prove these allegations false. While false accusations are a legal mess, it is also terrible to have someone who you once shared a life make claims of either abuse or neglect. It is something no one is ever really prepared for. You may feel you should reach out to your soon to be ex-spouse, but this can actually make things worse for you. Additionally, trying to make contact could be used against you. It is not unheard of for there to be accusations of
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Ways to Discover Hidden Assets During a Divorce

Despite complications to the marriage, most people enter the divorce process believing their soon to be ex-spouse is an honest person. However, this is not always the situation. The fact is, dishonesty is a common reason for seeking a divorce. Regardless, even if you have no reason to suspect your former partner is a liar, there is still good cause to be curious and concerned about their finances heading into a divorce. Once a divorce begins, many people will do whatever it takes to conceal and hold on to what they believe is their money. Moreover, some will even create secret accounts, or perform other financial actions, during the course of the whole marriage. Discovering these hidden assets, during a divorce, is the only way to ensure you receive a fair settlement. You should never rely entirely on your spouse’s financial affidavit. The good news is an experienced divorce attorney
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Massachusetts Family Law Regarding Separation

If you and your spouse are thinking it is time for a separation, there are some factors you should consider in order to make sure this is not only the right step for your family but also done in accordance of the law. Before any decisions are made, it would be beneficial to consult a divorce and family law attorney to help you fully understand the legal implications and consequences of filing any official documentation to separate assets. In the state of Massachusetts, there is no judgement for a true legal separation. However, if one spouse seeks support from another spouse and does not want to file for divorce, he or she can file for a judgement of separate support.  This would allow for child support payments to begin as well as alimony. Because Massachusetts does not provide a way for a legal separation, the process for filing for separate
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Massachusetts Small Business Owners Going Through Divorce: What You Need To Know

Divorce is never easy, and it gets more complicated when a couple begins a successful business after their marriage. Massachusetts is an equitable distribution state which means the business equity is held marital in nature even if only one person does the work. There are very few people who divorce and then are able to manage working together on a daily basis, so splitting the company or leaving it is generally best for one spouse. Using mediation rather than going to court is an effective way of ensuring both parties continue to profit from the successful business, and it is the best way to ensure future alimony payments through divorce and family law court. Splitting the Business Down the Middle There are some businesses where splitting a company is relatively easy, and each person has their own territory. Mediation helps to decide which partner gets a particular territory, and this
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Modifying Your Divorce Agreement in Massachusetts

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
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Divorce and Separation Agreements

Divorce is a complicated and emotional endeavor. Naturally, divorcing parents of young children have additional considerations over childless couples. The many complexities involved in reaching a desired outcome during a divorce, are weighed according to a number of different factors. In some cases, it can be helpful to ask an attorney to draw up a Separation Agreement. A Separation Agreement is a written document that determines how the divorcing parties will handle matters relating to the end of the marriage. This Agreement can serve to clarify and simplify the overall divorce process. Normally, the agreement deals with child custody issues, parental visits, child support, alimony and division of assets and similar issues. The Agreement is only good if both parties agree to its terms and sign it voluntarily, without duress or intimidation. The Separation Agreement usually becomes part of the final divorce judgment.
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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. Joint Debts While dividing property is obviously important, many people do not give much thought to dividing debts. This can cause problems later as you can still be held responsible if
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