Posts Tagged Divorce

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 »



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 »



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 »



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 »



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 »



How can I establish paternity if my child’s mother is married to someone else?

A father petitioning for paternity needs to have a full understanding of the legal process. Fathers who are unmarried in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts can establish paternity in two ways.

The first route is a voluntary process that utilizes a form known as a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Parentage. This is a document signed by both the child’s mother and father, confirming the singing male is the legal father. This form is typically presented to the parents at the hospital when the child is born.

The second route is through an involuntary process, which involves filing a complaint to establish paternity. However, if the mother was married to someone else when the child was born or conceived, the husband must be served with a complaint and summons before the petitioning father can file a complaint to establish paternity.

If the husband signs an Affidavit of Nonpaternity, he will not have 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 »