Articles Archives

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.

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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 »



10 Questions To Help You Create Your Will

A Holistic Approach to Your Affairs

For many people, especially those approaching middle- or retirement-age, know they should put together a plan for their estate, but feel overwhelmed by the details and options. They continue to put off estate planning for “another day” until, often, it is too late. Younger people also should consider their affairs, because there is no time like the present and because tomorrow is never guaranteed.

In fact, putting together a comprehensive estate plan, whatever your particular situation in life, is easier than you think. There are five major components of any estate plan, addressing both medical care at the end of life and the disposition of one’s property.

Three Options During Life

While handling the affairs of someone who dies intestate—without a will—can be difficult, costly, and time-consuming, some of the most difficult choices facing families are those around medical care and end-of-life decisions. By … Read More »



Divorcing in Massachusetts: Initiating the Process

The Basics When beginning the divorce process in Massachusetts, it is important to answer two key questions. First, is the divorce contested or uncontested? Second, is the divorce at-fault or no-fault?

In answering these questions, couples can gain a better understanding of what awaits them in the legal system as they begin this difficult process.

Contested or Uncontested? The question of whether a divorce is contested or not comes down to whether spouses have been able to come to an agreement on the terms of their separation before filing for divorce.

In an uncontested divorce, both parties have agreed ahead of filing divorce on the division of property, alimony, child support, and child custody. They may have worked this out individually, through their attorneys, or in professional mediation. The couple can then jointly file for the dissolution of their legal union. If all necessary documentation is filed then, their divorce … Read More »



Get the Facts About Parental Rights, Paternity Testing, and Child Support

As far as the Massachusetts courts are concerned, both mothers and fathers have legal rights and obligations when it comes to children. However, a child born to unmarried parents doesn’t automatically have a legal father. The mother is given sole legal and physical custody until paternity is established.

For married couples, the husband is presumed to be the biological father and is responsible for financial obligations. As a presumed father, if you believe you are not the biological father, meeting with an attorney to rebut presumed paternity is a time-sensitive matter and needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

In order for an unmarried biological father to be established, paternity must be acknowledged. This can be done in writing if both parents sign a form known as a “Voluntary Acknowledgement of Parentage.” In many cases, this form is signed at the child’s birth. If the biological father is not … Read More »