Divorce Archives

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 »



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 »



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 »



Does Massachusetts divide property equally between the spouses during a divorce?

Rather than divide marital property equally, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ family law code seeks to divide it equitably.

Massachusetts defines “marital property” as any property—be it income, assets, real estate, or everyday items—that comes into possession of the couple or either of the spouses individually during the course of the marriage. This could include trade secrets, stock holdings, and artistic creations. For individuals of high net worth, or those who make their living by possessing valuable intellectual property, it is especially valuable to have a prenuptial agreement in place to keep this property separate from that held in common in the marriage.

In deciding what is an “equitable” division of property, the court will consider a number of factors. These include if the divorce is no-fault or at-fault, the relative incomes of the parties involved, and the financial, non-economic and emotional contributions made by each party during the marriage.

If … Read More »



I make my living as an artist. Does my spouse have a fifty percent share in rights to my works and the income they produce?

Yes and no.

Yes, in the sense that artistic works, along with patents, trade secrets, and many other “intangible” properties, constitute intellectual property. And intellectual property, in Massachusetts, is marital property.

No, in that Massachusetts does not assume “equal” (fifty-fifty) distribution of property between partners at the dissolution of a marriage, but rather “equitable.” Intellectual property falls under the requirement for equitable distribution.

In dividing something intangible, such as the rights to artistic works, Massachusetts family judges will, as with other forms of property, assess the relative contribution of partners to the marriage financially, emotionally, and logistically. Intellectual property has two sorts of value to be divided. The first is the rights to income from future royalties on a work or idea. Second, the present monetary value of a work or idea.

For creators or inventors, it may be wise to include provisions in a prenuptial agreement to protect your … Read More »