Zuckerman Law Blog

Tracking Child Support Payments

Under Massachusetts law, both parents have a duty to support their child. Typically, following a separation or divorce, only one parent is considered the custodial parent. This is the parent who lives with and has primary care of the child.

The support provided by the custodial parent is offered in the time and care given to the child. When families no longer live under one roof, sharing duties equally can be difficult. This is why one parent generally performs more of the task related roles, such as taking the child to school and providing meals, while the other offers support financially.

Some families try to avoid the court and legal battles by setting their own agreed-upon child support arrangements. In some cases, this even works—until it doesn’t. Without a formal court order to substantiate an agreement, a parent receiving money can allege the other isn’t holding up their end of … Read More »



Living Without a Healthcare Proxy: A Risk to Avoid

Your Life, Your Way Healthcare decisions are among the most personal, and most consequential, any of us can make. For many of us, there may come a time when old age, illness, or injury will prevent us from voicing our wishes and concerns about what we prefer for our bodies, or even how we prefer to spend the remainder of our lives.

In light of this, everyone needs to make provision, in writing, for someone else to be authorized to make these decisions for them. In Massachusetts, the only recognized legal vehicle by which to do this is by granting durable power of attorney, also called a healthcare proxy.

Massachusetts: The Odd Commonwealth Out When it comes to medical and end-of-life decisions, the law in Massachusetts is unusual when compared with the other forty-nine states and commonwealths that make up the U.S.

Massachusetts does not recognize living wills, also called … Read More »



Can I Change My Original Divorce Agreement?

Yes! Not only can you modify your divorce agreement, it is best to change it as your circumstances change.

Divorce agreement modifications can address changes to child support, alimony, and custody arrangements. Either party can request a modification to reduce or increase support payments or to change parenting plan specifications.

The status of your case, as well as the type of change requested, will determine how you facilitate modifications. One method is through a Complaint for Modification. Once completed, this form should be filed in the county where the judgment was issued.

Another way to make a change in some cases is to file a motion. For example, a Motion for Reconsideration requests a family court judge to review his or her previously issued decision in order to make a change in light of newly discovered evidence, an issue of fraud, or a mistake of law. A Motion to Set … Read More »



What to do when your ex refuses to comply with your parenting schedule?

Once you’ve completed the process of going through a divorce, settling on child support, and agreeing to a parenting schedule, you’d think you can finally move forward and start your new life. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.

When you’re facing the frustrating reality that your ex simply won’t comply with your legally binding agreements, whether that be alimony payments or a parenting schedule, you have options. Massachusetts residents can file a complaint for contempt to address non-compliance with temporary orders and final judgments.

Understanding the ins and out of contempt proceedings is an essential part of litigation in the Probate and Family Court, which is why working with an attorney is vital. Anyone found violating a court order, such as failing to pay child support, denying visitation, etc., may be considered to be in contempt of court.

The court can enforce a defendant to comply with the order(s) in … Read More »



When to Modify Your Divorce Agreement

How long has it been since you terminated your marriage? Have your circumstances changed since then? While your divorce may last forever, your divorce agreement can change over time.

There are many reasons to consider modifying your divorce agreement. Some examples include:

a significant change in income that will impact child support or alimony payments a job change requiring a move needs of aging children the remarriage of the party awarded the alimony

Child Support Modifications

With regard to child support, you can request to modify your original order. Regardless of changing circumstances, under the child support guidelines, you are entitled to review your child support agreement every three years. Modifications to increase or decrease payments can be requested. Factors such as education, training, health, past employment history, and employment availability will be considered by the Massachusetts courts when determining modifications. Hardships and loss of employment will also be considered.

Read More »



Understanding Child Support in Massachusetts

Divorce cases involving children often require a court decision regarding which parent should have physical and/or legal responsibility. Whether granted joint or sole custody, physical custody designates where the child will actually live. The parent who the child resides with most of the time is considered the custodial parent.

The non-custodial parent may be required to provide for a child or children in the form of child support, which is paid to the custodial parent. Strict guidelines are used by the court to determine the amount of child support to be paid.

How Child Support is Determined Both parents’ income and expenses are used to establish how child support is determined and paid. Child Support Guidelines are applied to all child support orders and judgments to be used by the justices of the Trial Court.

Many considerations were taken into account when establishing Child Support Guidelines, including parental financial responsibility, … Read More »



Massachusetts Grandparents, Know Your Rights Regarding Visitation and Custody of Your Grandchildren

When it comes to grandparents’ rights, Massachusetts laws can be tricky to navigate. However, grandparents do have financial, visitation, and custody rights under certain circumstances. To utilize such rights, legal assistance might be necessary to help you take action.

Grandparents today are frequently faced with decisions about what is best for their grandchildren under challenging situations. Whether seeking visitation or custody, grandparents can take legal recourse when it is in the best interest of the child/children.

Visitation Rights Grandparents who are denied visitation with their grandchildren have a legal right to petition the court. However, grandparents are required to prove that such visitation is in the child/children’s best interests.

Under Massachusetts law, grandparents have the right to petition the court for visitation if the parents are divorced, living apart with a court-ordered separation, or are deceased. Additionally, if the parents never married, are living apart, and there is a court … Read More »



If my ex purchased our marital home before we were married, can I request the house as part of my divorce settlement?

In an ideal situation, you’d work with your ex to divide up assets fairly. Unfortunately, that isn’t always possible. Many couples hire attorneys to negotiate divorce terms on their behalf. Some couples even go to court and ask a judge to divide the marital estate.

So the simple answer is yes, you can request the marital home as part of your divorce settlement. A property owned by one spouse alone can become marital property if both spouses pay the mortgage or other expenses, or contribute to significant improvements.

However, divorcing couples may request specific assets during the division of property, but that doesn’t mean their request will be awarded. Massachusetts law requires the division of property in a divorce to be equitable. This means property division must be fair, though not necessarily equal.

Massachusetts law allows a judge to divide all property regardless of when it was acquired or which … Read More »



10 Questions To Help You Create Your Will

Creating a will not at the top of your to-do-list? Maybe it should be! Creating an estate plan is one way to ensure your family is taken care of, and your wishes are carried out in the future.

Having a will isn’t just for the uber-rich or elderly. In fact, everyone should have a will regardless of your marital status, age, or the size of one’s estate.

When writing out your will, many considerations need to be taken into account. Here are ten questions you can answer to help you have peace of mind about your family’s future.

Family Considerations Question #1 Who will raise your children if they’re under the age of 18? When choosing a guardian for your children, consider who your kids will be comfortable with, who shares your values, and who has the capacity to raise additional children.

Question #2 Who will serve as their … Read More »



Modifying Child Custody Agreements: For Safety’s Sake

Final Judgement, Not Final Word

In awarding custody, the goal of a family court, above all, is the safety and wellbeing of the child or children involved. One of these factors is consistency, so courts will be hesitant to change what is called a “final” custody order. While it is possible for later modifications to be made, unless both parents agree to the changes, this is a protracted process.

One exception is when there is a real and imminent threat of harm to a child.

Defining Harm

In Massachusetts, child abuse is defined as a parent or other caretaker either causing physical harm to a child or putting the child in reasonable fear of being harmed. A collection of these incidents, called “a pattern of abuse” in the law can be grounds for modifying custody arrangements and other protective actions, such as mandating supervised visitation between the parent and the … Read More »