Zuckerman Law Blog

Out of State Child Support Modification

Child Support and Out-of-State Issues

Whether one parent is living just over the Massachusetts border in New Hampshire but still commutes to Boston every day, or whether the one parent is living on the West Coast while the children live with the other on the South Shore, issues of state jurisdiction may come into play when seeking to modify a Massachusetts child support agreement.

Changing Circumstances, Modifying Orders In Massachusetts, child support is governed either by temporary orders or by final judgements. Temporary orders govern the terms of child support while there is still open legal action in process to establish a final judgement.

The term “final judgement” is something of a misnomer. “Final” does not mean that the judgement can never be altered again. A child support final judgement may be renegotiated in the future. This can be done with the agreement of both parents, or one parent may … Read More »



5 Key Questions to Answer When Creating Your Will

If you don’t want important decisions to be left up to the state when you’re gone, you need a will. If the idea of creating a will feels like you’re tempting fate, think of it as a road map you’re leaving your family, so they don’t have to stress over making the right decisions on your behalf.

First, you need to understand the differences between a living will and a last will and testament, usually referred to as a will. These are two different documents that serve different purposes.

A living will serves to state your wishes in the event you cannot communicate. This is a legal document outlining which life support services you approve or disapprove of in certain situations.

A last will and testament dictates how you wish your assets to be distributed and utilized following your death. This article will address five crucial questions you need to … Read More »



How to Land on Your Feet After Divorce

Divorce takes a toll emotionally, physically, and mentally on everyone involved. It’s not uncommon for individuals going through a divorce to want to curl up in bed all day and abandon all responsibilities. As tempting as this sounds, it’s not practical. In fact, doing so can even make things worse.

The first step to landing on your feet after divorce is finding acceptance. Just because you’re making the right decision to split up with your partner, doesn’t mean it’s easy, but accepting your post-divorce life means finding new normals.

This will look different for everyone. However, there are several steps you can take to make your new normal as seamless as possible. For starters, get clear on the unknowns. You’ll need to answer questions such as where you will live, what your child custody arrangements will look like, and what your financial needs will be.

Answering questions to unknowns will … Read More »



An Update on Massachusetts Probate & Family Court Reopening Procedures and What It Means for You

Slow Re-Open

With COVID-19 still posing a serious risk to health and safety, the courts, like the rest of our society, continue to adapt their procedures to minimize the risk to court workers and private citizens. The Probate and Family Court is no exception and is adhering to the same general guidelines as the rest of the court system.

What Is Open?

Beginning July 13, Massachusetts courts, including the Probate and Family Court, allowed some in-person business to resume. No jury trials will be seated before September 8, 2020.

As of July 13, only a few types of court proceeding are conducted in-person. These are “trials and evidentiary hearings.” These proceedings are defined as those requiring:

1. That witnesses take oaths before a judge, making it a grave matter subject to perjury penalties 2. In certain cases, that documentary evidence must be presented which cannot be conveyed, for legal or … Read More »



Staying Safe and Saying NO to Domestic Abuse During COVID-19

Strict stay-at-home orders implemented for safety have placed abuse victims directly in harm’s way. Safety measures recommended to limit the spread of the coronavirus pandemic have led to a rise in domestic abuse. For many, this is not a surprise as domestic violence goes up whenever families spend more time together.

With families in quarantine and isolation worldwide, stress-levels are at an all-time high. The uncertainty of the future can increase anxiety for many. Coupled with unemployment and financial stress, tension among households is sure to rise. With the children at home all day, empty refrigerators, low bank funds, and forced interactions, families everywhere are facing conflict, creating the perfect storm for abusers to intimidate and inflict harm on their victims.

While conflict doesn’t always explode into violence, many living in isolation from their support network have nowhere to turn when violence erupts. As routines change and families are stuck … Read More »



Co-parenting in the Face of Coronavirus

Amid the spread of COVID-19, we are all facing unprecedented times. As this pandemic continues, regulations regarding safe practices change daily. One thing on the mind of parents sharing custody is whether or not their court order is enforceable.

Rest assured, custody, visitation, and placement are in effect and continue to be enforceable during this period of time. Court-ordered arrangements remain obligatory and should be followed accordingly.

Any parent planning to use the pandemic as a reason to deny access to another parent can expect the courts to come down hard on parent agreement violations. Many judges view time of crisis to be particularly critical times for children to maintain some form of normality.

In cases where parents are willing to work together, they should consider the following: which parent has better resources for the child to complete distance learning, if one parent has a high-risk job, the health … Read More »



Is it legal to videotape my spouse behaving badly (verbal or physical abuse, infidelity, etc) as evidence in a divorce case?

As thoughts turn towards divorce, tempers can flare and people may behave in ways they normally would not be proud of, even in a relatively amicable situation. Of course, the bad behavior of a spouse—ranging from neglect of household duties to infidelity to abusive actions—may well have begun long before the divorce, and may well be the reason for it.

In seeking a favorable divorce settlement, one that compensates you for violations of the marriage contract and shields you from your spouse’s ongoing bad behavior, you will want to have evidence to bolster your claims. In a world of smart phones, where everyone has both a video camera and a broadcasting station in their pockets, you may be tempted to record your spouse’s bad behavior.

In a word: don’t.

Massachusetts laws on recording interactions between persons are possibly the strictest in the nation. While many states have “two-party consent” laws, … Read More »



Is Massachusetts a 50/50 state when it comes to the division of assets in a divorce?

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is not a 50/50 state. When a court is needed to rule on the allocation of assets, they are not necessarily divided equally between the two parties. While some states mandate a 50/50 split, Massachusetts is an equitable division state.

Commonwealth laws dictate that the courts can decide on a fair division of assets regardless of who actually owned it. A court could declare that the division is 60/40, or 70/30, etc. Any assets are subject to division between the spouses, and not always equally. This includes inheritance, a spouse owned business, real estate, retirement accounts, etc.

Many factors are taken into account when determining the division of assets. The factors considered are tailored to the individuals involved. Some examples include the length of the marriage, the behavior of each party during the marriage, the health status of both parties, and the occupations of each … Read More »



What is the difference between a fault and no-fault divorce?

In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the grounds for divorce depends on whether you decide on a no-fault or fault divorce.

A no-fault divorce does not require parties to prove blame for the breakdown of the marriage. Either or both parties can file to begin the process for a no-fault divorce merely pleading that the marriage is beyond repair, and it is time to move on. The ground for this action is “irretrievable breakdown of marriage”.

A fault divorce is more involved. In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, you have the option of filing for divorce and claiming one person is to blame for the failure of the marriage. Common grounds for a fault divorce include cruelty and abuse, desertion for one year or more, adultery, impotence, excessive use of drugs or alcohol, failure to provide support or maintenance, and sentences of five years or more in a penal institution.

Proving a … Read More »



Am I eligible to adopt in the state of Massachusetts as a single parent?

To be eligible to be an adoptive parent in the state of Massachusetts, the law states you must be at least 18 years old, and you or the child must be a resident of Massachusetts. In most cases, any married couple or single adult is eligible to adopt. If married, both spouses must be a part of the adoption. In nearly every adoption case, judges in adoption courts will consider the child’s best interests when making adoption decisions.

In Massachusetts, you can adopt anyone younger than you are, as long as they aren’t your spouse, sibling, uncle, or aunt. In most cases, any child you are adopting under the age of 14, must live with you for at least six months. Consent is required when adopting anyone being adopted over the age of 12.

It’s important to be aware that the state of Massachusetts does not allow private adoption, those … Read More »