I have been representing clients in Massachusetts who are involved in uncontested as well as contested divorces for over 38 years. In that time period I have experienced different types of cases that might fit into categories, but each case is unique based upon its own set of facts.
Let me help you find a resolution that is fair under the factual circumstances of your case on the day we meet, on the day that the divorce judgment issues, and years thereafter.
The term "alimony" is probably one of the most frightening terms to a spouse who is involved in divorce litigation. As a result of the passage of the Alimony Reform Act of 2011, much of the ambiguity regarding the end of alimony payments is now clarified. Three cases, Chin v. Merriot, Rodman v. Rodman, and Doktor v. Doktor were issued by the SJC of Massachusetts January 30, 2015 regarding that statute.
As each case is unique, I would be happy to meet with you to discuss your specific case.
PRENUPTIAL AND POSTNUPTIAL AGREEMENTS
Parties who are planning to marry or who are already married may decide to have an agreement prepared by counsel that clearly defines the assets of each party at the time of the signing of the agreement, and what assets the parties are seeking to exclude from the marital estate in the event of death or divorce. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in DeMatteo v. DeMatteo, 436 Mass. 18, 762 N.E. 2d 797 (2002) added much needed clarity and definition to what constitutes an enforceable prenuptial agreement.
The second type of agreement mentioned herein is a postnuptial agreement. These are prepared when the parties are married but may be heading towards divorce. This is a writing in which the parties agree to the outcome in the event that their efforts to save the marriage are unsuccessful.
Child support is an issue that has received a great deal of attention and revamping in the last two decades. Whether you are the person who pays or will receive payment, you will want to understand this important issue. The federal government, in order to bring the states into line on the child support issue, requires that each state come up with a child support formula or "Guidelines" that would render a predictable result based upon the number of children and the income of the parties.
Although child support is a formula and the intention is to create uniformity, all cases are unique and require looking at. I would be happy to meet with you to discuss your unique situation.
POST DIVORCE MODIFICATIONS
Some of the modifications I handle include modification of court orders and judgments involving support when the obligor is retiring, when a child/children are entering college and there are expenses for school that need to be paid.
I will be happy to meet with you to discuss the issues involved in your modification or defending against the modification launched against you.
The term visitation is becoming archaic in divorce actions. With the increasing involvement of both parties with the children of their relationship, the more appropriate term to use is "parenting plan". In other words, taking into account the age and needs of the child as well as the schedules of the child and the parents, time must be provided for both parties to enjoy the society of their child. As one learned judge from Massachusetts often opined: "You may no longer be husband and wife, but parents are forever".
So long as both parties are committed to the best interests of their children, and they can communicate with each other, parenting plans that result in shared physical custody is no longer unusual in Massachusetts.
There has been a proliferation of paternity cases in the probate court. These cases arise when the parties are not married but have a child together. In today's world where paternity filings exceed divorce filings, the children who were born to parents who were unmarried no longer live under a stigma. These children are given by Massachusetts law the same rights as children of married partners. Massachusetts enacted a very important statute to implement this concept of equality of rights; the statute is General Laws, Chapter 209C.
I have had a great deal of experience dealing with this type of case and would be happy to meet with you to discuss your unique situation.
CONTESTED ESTATES, GUARDIANSHIP AND CONSERVATORSHIPS
I have vast experience with contested estates, guardianship and conservatorships. If you have a problem that is haunting you, keeping you awake at night, please do not hesitate to call me. Maybe I can help you. I would like to try. Please call and let's talk.
Massachusetts has a two tiered appellate court system consisting of the Appeals Court and the Supreme Judicial Court. The appeals court is available to hear from appellants who are seeking reversal of the court judgment where there has been an error of law or an abuse of judicial discretion. The Supreme Judicial Court hears cases which are often what are referred to as "first impression" cases. Cases of first impression are those which involve legal issues in which there is no law as yet. The Supreme Judicial Court also will hear cases which contain issues of general import to the citizens of the Commonwealth.
I would be happy to meet with you to discuss your unique situation.
REMOVAL OF CHILDREN FROM THE COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS
Whether you are married or unmarried, the issues of relocation as a result of the Massachusetts Court of Appeals case Wakefield v. Hegarty are the same. If your spouse or life partner is seeking to move from Massachusetts, great disruption in your life and the lives of your children occur. The spouse or partner cannot move from Massachusetts with your children without your assent or the court's approval. The court will only grant its approval if: 1. The party seeking to leave can establish that he/she has a real advantage to relocating. An example of a real advantage is that the party has a good job waiting for him/her, has family and friends waiting for him/her, the location is a safe environment for families with good schools; and 2. It is in the best interests of the children to relocate. In other words, the children's lives will be better as a result of that move.
Removal cases are heart wrenching to deal with. I would be happy to meet with you to discuss your unique situation.
SINGLE JUSTICE PETITIONS
The appeals court has developed a safety valve for those instances when a case has not gone to a final judgment, but there exists a temporary order which, if allowed to remain unaltered, will result in irreparable harm. This is the single justice system. Every month a justice of the appeals court is assigned single justice duties. Their duties in this respect are not limited to probate court matters. However, I have used the single justice successfully for clients involving procedure used by a probate court judge on a temporary order granting custody of a child. I have also used the single justice in those instances where I feel that my client has been substantially prejudiced by a temporary order, and where the time remaining in the case before it goes to trial and judgment will cause irreparable harm.
I would be happy to meet with you to discuss your unique situation.
My office handles civil contempts. The civil contempt means that there is a violation of a court order or judgment (temporary order or divorce judgment), and you are asking the court to force compliance of the order/judgment.
I would be happy to speak with you regarding the specific issues regarding your possible contempt.
Doing adoptions is what I call practicing "happy law". Judges who never show a smile develops warm and welcoming personalities during adoptions, and I personally love doing them.
Contested adoptions are a horse of a different color. These often involve a mother who has had a child, and the father is absentee and has contributed little to no child support. In those situations, typically the mother meets "Mister Right" who is stable, loving and attentive, wants to adopt the child/children and has a job. The issues joined in court are the child support arrearage versus his waiving his rights to the child and allowing the adoption. These cases can end up being litigated or settled. They are highly emotional, but when resolved for the benefit of the child, once again we have a happy ending. There are many other scenarios, but my point is that I do both uncontested and contested adoptions. Maybe I can help you and your children.