Who Is Affected by Paternity Fraud?

Some resources on paternity fraud go so far as to label it a type of domestic violence against men and children. Defrauded Man: The man indicated as the father, who has no actual biological ties to the child in question, can be financially and emotionally burdened by paternity fraud. If he’s ordered to pay child support, his financial means may be greatly diminished. The Child/Children: Effects of paternity fraud go beyond the potential emotional trauma of having the children’s identities shaken by learning that “father” isn’t actually related to them. Child victims of paternity fraud also face health risks from not knowing the medical history of biological fathers and risk factors. The Real Father: When a false father is identified, the biological father is denied a relationship with his child or children. The Defrauded Man’s Family: “False fathers” often pay child support, taking away that support from their true families.
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How Long Before You Can File for Divorce?

Some states have divorce waiting periods when filing for divorce to make sure that couples are absolutely certain about ending their marriages. Divorce waiting periods vary from state to state, ranging from a month to six months to even a year or more, if certain divorce issues haven’t been resolved. In the past, states have considered extending divorce waiting periods, especially for couples with children. Such divorce legislation has been based on observations that shorter divorce waiting periods lead to higher divorce rates.
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What happens with Unpaid Debt in our divorce?

Even if your divorce decree assigns certain joint debts to your spouse, you may still be responsible for those debts. If one spouse fails to pay off debts, the creditor can still bring legal action against the other spouse for the full amount of the debts. You may then choose to file a contempt action against your former spouse for violating your divorce decree and seeking reimbursement for any amounts you have paid. In most states, you will also be entitled to your divorce attorneys’ fees. Learn about protecting yourself financially from your spouse’s debt by speaking with a local divorce attorney.
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Which Should Come First, Bankruptcy or Divorce?

Legally, married couples in Massachusetts can file bankruptcy jointly, while divorced couples can’t. Couples who are considering bankruptcy often find it financially advantageous to file for bankruptcy protection before divorcing. However, changes to the bankruptcy laws in 2005 made it more difficult for people above a certain income level to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Some couples might find themselves unable to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, whereas one spouse alone might be able to do so after the divorce.
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Can I represent myself in my divorce?

Under Massachusetts law you have the right to appear on your own behalf in a courtroom in any legal matter including divorce. However, proceeding “pro se” (literally, “for yourself”) in getting your divorce is advisable only under certain circumstances. If you and your spouse have custody disputes, if you are married and paternity of any of the children is in question, if you want support (alimony) from him/her or if there is any marital property which hasn’t already been satisfactorily divided, you are advised to hire an attorney to represent you. If the case is complicated, you do not know how to proceed, or you are unsure how to proceed, contact divorce lawyer Howard Lewis to learn how to protect your interests.
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How much will my divorce cost?

There is a fee to file a divorce in Massachusetts, and to get a summons. As of 2004, the filing fee is $200.00, plus a $15.00 surcharge, and a summons costs $1.00. Notifying your spouse, called service of process, can cost around $30.00 or more if he/she lives far away. Attorney fees will vary and you will need to discuss these fees with the divorce attorney you select. If you’re considering divorce, contact our firm to schedule a initial consultation to learn your options.
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Once I file for divorce with the court, how long is it before I get a trial date?

Each divorce case is unique and the answer to this question depends on many factors such as: which grounds you are using; how rapidly or slowly you are able to complete each step in the process; how long it takes to find and serve your spouse; if your spouse’s address is unknown, serving him/her will take longer; how complete and accurate your papers are; how busy and back logged the court is; whether your spouse contests or disagrees any part of the divorce; and whether there are temporary orders or negotiations in process. There is generally a twenty day waiting period after the defendant has been given copies of the divorce papers before either party can request a pre-trial or trial. (This period is six months for no-fault divorces where you file alone.) If you do not know where your spouse lives or works, you must still give “notice” of
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When should I go to court for my divorce?

Going to court too quickly can often create more litigation in your divorce. In making your decision to live apart, to divorce or to contest certain issues, weigh the price you will pay with your time, emotional pain and money. Each divorce case is unique. When children are involved, your relationship with your spouse does not end with the separation or divorce. You probably, but not necessarily, will continue to have contact with him/her regarding support, visitation, and other parental responsibilities. You both will be grandparents of your children’s children. If it is appropriate in your situation, for the sake of your children, keep the lines of communication open, but only if it is safe to do so. If possible, put your children’s welfare ahead of continuing conflicts. If you are in need of an experienced divorce attorney, please contact Attorney Howard Lewis to schedule a consultation.
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How do I start the divorce process?

You file the Complaint for Divorce and other documents at the court. If there is an Affidavit of Indigency, the clerk will approve it and stamp it, and give you a copy. You will also get a Domestic Relations Summons. Arrange for the sheriff to give a copy of the complaint to the spouse. When the sheriff does this, it is called “service of process,” meaning that the sheriff has served the papers to the spouse. Before trial, either party may request that the court make temporary orders, for example concerning custody, child support, or visitation. Either party must request a pre-trial conference, and then there is a final hearing, the trial. It is important to consult with an experienced Massachusetts divorce attorney. Call us for to schedule a consultation.
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What are the requirements for filing a divorce in Massachusetts?

You may file for divorce in Massachusetts if:    you have lived here for a year, or  the conduct that is the reason for divorce occurred in Massachusetts and you lived as a married couple in Massachusetts, regardless of where your spouse now lives, or even if his/her address is unknown.  You file a divorce in the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court in the county where you and your spouse last lived together if either of you still lives in that county. If neither of you lives in the county where you last lived together, you may file in the county where you live, or you may file in the county where your spouse lives. If you have questions about filing for divorce in Massachusetts, contact Attorney Howard Lewis.
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