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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Divorce Modifications in the State of Massachusetts

When the terms of your divorce no longer fit your present circumstances, petitioning for divorce modification can help alter the terms accordingly. In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, overturning a divorce decree requires an appeal. The appeal process is often drawn-out because one appellate court will need to overturn a lower court’s decision. Appeals are usually unsuccessful except in the case of exceptional and compelling circumstances. The following are common examples of situations that warrant a divorce modification. 1. Moving a long distance from an ex-spouse. 2. A needed increase of alimony. Spousal support is not mandatory in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It depends upon the income and situation of the spouses. 3. Dramatic increase or decrease of income for former spouse under a child support order. 4. A child not being properly supervised by parent or current partner of parent due to psychological or substance abuse problems. 5. A teenage
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Uncontested and Contested Divorce in Massachusetts

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. Once the paperwork is complete, both parties appear before a judge. At this meeting, the judge will ask questions concerning the documents. As long as there are no problems, the judge will order the
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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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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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