Posts Tagged family law

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 »



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 »



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 »