FIND Q&A BY TOPIC BELOW:

  • Divorce

    Q
    How do I get Divorced if My Spouse is Missing?
    AIf your spouse has disappeared and cannot be found, then at least a status only Divorce, ending your marriage can be had by effecting service on your spouse by publication in a newspaper.
    Q
    Will a New Job, Paying Less, Allow for a Reduction in Child Support?
    AAll by itself, a voluntary job change resulting in lesser income, probably no; on the other hand, if there are other and new factors showing the new job, even with lesser income, is a child’s best interest, probably, so. An example might be, leaving a dead end career path; for new education preparatory to a new career path with will pay substantially more money.

    Involuntary job changes almost always will found a claim for reduced child support payments, but sometimes with an affirmative obligation to advise the receiving spouse of increases in your income.

    Read more FAQ’s about Divorce

  • Alimony

    Q
    What Is a “No-fault” Divorce?
    AThe most common, a “no-fault” divorce” is based on statutory grounds of an “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage”. Divorces on the basis of “fault” have become rare; meaning those on typical grounds of cruel and abusive treatment, adultery and abandonment.
    Q
    Can My Spouse Make me Stay Married?
    AYes, no one needs a reason to be divorced, other one spouse wants to be divorced. Uncooperative spouses can make things take longer and perhaps, cost more, but not prevent a divorce.
  • Adoption

    Q
    How Long Does it Take to Get a Divorce?
    ABest case, about half a year from the decision to be divorced to the judgment of divorce, absolute.
    Q
    Can You Represent Both Me and My Spouse?
    ANo.Joint representation is a conflict of interest and cannot be done.
    Q
    Instead of Getting Divorced Can My Marriage Be Annulled?
    AGenerally, No. Marriages are annulled only in two very limited circumstances: void marriages and voidable marriages. Marriages of short duration may not be annulled simply because they did not last very long.

    1. Void Marriages. Void marriages means either: Bigamy, a spouse is married to two or more people at once; or, the spouses are already too closely related: parents, siblings, and children are examples.
    2.Voidable Marriages. A marriage not freely, knowingly and intelligently made, made with a spouse not of legal age or with a spouse not physically capable of a sexual relationship, and finally in very strict circumstances that show the marriage is based on a fraud.

    Q
    Can I get a divorce in Massachusetts?
    AAfter being resident in the Commonwealth for a year, you should be able to file for Divorce in Massachusetts. If your case is out of the ordinary, for example, your spouse lives elsewhere or child custody is an issue, then the time is residence may change or the Court may or may not have jurisdiction over things like alimony, child support or property division.

    Even if you were married in Massachusetts, but if neither spouse currently lives in the Commonwealth, it is unlikely that you can file for divorce in Massachusetts.

    Consulting a lawyer with these questions is warranted.

  • Child Custody

    Q
    Instead of Getting Divorced May I Apply for a Legal Separation?
    ATechnically, no; Massachusetts does not have a “legal separation.” Couples separate when they voluntarily choose to live apart, but they remain legally married.

    Actions for Separate Support do exist in the Commonwealth; they are uncommon and in practice are generally amended to state a claim for a Divorce.

    Q
    Can I Change Lawyers in the Middle of My Divorce?
    AYes, a Client’s right to the lawyer of their choice is of Constitutional proportion; that means that at almost any time you can discharge your lawyer for any reason or even no reason.

    With that said, should you? Changes in representation should not be lightly undertaken: an overall increase in your legal costs is almost unavoidable, there will be additional delay and you will loose the benefit your current lawyer’s first-hand knowledge of circumstances and developments in your case.

    Do, consider getting a second opinion and the possibility that your dissatisfaction is really the result of the overloaded “system” and outside the control of your lawyer, or that infrequent communication from your lawyer may really be your lawyer’s best efforts to control your costs and not waste your money with empty status reports.

    Q
    Does an Uncontested Divorce Require a Court Hearing?
    AYes, but usually a very short and uncomplicated hearing. Sometimes, even on the same day you file your Court papers.
  • Father’s Rights

    Q
    Does Massachusetts Recognize Drug Addiction as Grounds for Divorce?
    AYes, patterns of serious substance abuse are among the classic grounds for divorce on the basis of “cause” or “fault”.
    Q
    Can I Get a Divorce Without a Lawyer in Massachusetts?
    AYes, perhaps half of the people in Family Court do choose to be self-represented. Chiefly, people choose to be their own lawyers for reasons of economy–lawyers are expensive.

    With that said, being self represented may be a false economy. People who represent themselves are held to the same standards as licensed, professional lawyers, overcoming unfamiliarity with the technical law and procedure becomes a part time job and some Courts are particularly unreceptive to self-represented litigants because they make work in the Court harder.

    Your time may be better spent, yielding a better, more predictable product by diverting the part -time job of being self-represented into a paying additional part-time job you can use to hire a lawyer. are and While it is usually best to enlist the aid of an attorney when seeking a divorce, especially when there are children and assets involved or you have trouble communicating with your spouse, it is still possible to obtain a divorce without an attorney.

    Q
    How Much Does a Divorce Cost?
    ANo one can say for sure in advance. The aggregate, eventual cost will be a function of the level of conflict with your spouse and the complexity of the issues in your case. Fully half of the responsibility for the costs of your case rests with what your spouse chooses to or not to do.

    Hourly rates are misleading. Lesser rates often indicate lesser experienced lawyers who simply take longer to accomplish the same task a more experienced lawyer can accomplish is less time.

    Typically, cases with agreements cost less to complete and cases with conflict cost more. A responsible budget for a typical two-hearing no-fault, uncontested case, should be in a range between $4000.00, and $10,000.00; on the lower end, in a case without a contested Parenting Plan and between two Parties who are both salaried employees and on the upper end if there has is a business to be divided or a history of abuse or deception. Be prepared for costs to escalate dramatically, if there is no Agreement and the matter proceeds to Trial.

    Actions for Separate Support do exist in the Commonwealth; they are uncommon and in practice are generally amended to state a claim for a Divorce.

  • Child Support

    Q
    What Is the Divorce Process Like?
    AAxiomatically, Divorces are supposed to be tough, life changing experiences, but almost every one proceeds on grounds of “no-fault” and comes to conclusion with an Agreement.

    Every case wends its way through the same reefs and shoals, but some avoid much of the economic and emotional wreckage by taking the “easier” way instead of the “harder” way.

    The “Easy” Way; the parties negotiate a full and final agreement (a “Separation Agreement”) straight away, and on all their issues: including property division, alimony, a parenting plan and child support. Filing their agreement, and a “Joint Petition” and related documentation, the parties set their hearing at which the Court establishes the agreement is “fair and reasonable”, which both parties understand and mean to be bound by.

    The “Hard” Way; one of the parties files a “Complaint for Divorce”, which is served on the other side. The parties engage in hearings for temporary orders, engage in discovery and contested court hearings . Six months passes, either side may request a trial date and the Case settles with an Agreement that looks much like the one in the “Easy” way.

    The “Really Hard” Way; the case does not settle, but goes to Trial, each side puts on witnesses and evidence and the Judge makes the decision, that still looks a lot like the Agreement reach in the “Easy” way of doing things.

    Q
    What Is a “Retainer” and Why Do Lawyers Need One?
    A“Retainers” are payments in advance for legal services. The payments in advance are placed into a trust account and as your lawyer works on your case he or she bills against the funds in trust and the money comes out of the client’s account. Retainers are really pre-paid legal fees.

    Lawyers needs retainers because once an attorney is “on” the case, representing a client, the lawyer cannot simply withdraw without the Court’s permission and sometimes, judge says no, and the lawyer has to work for free.
    The size of the retainer in your case depends on the levels of complexity and conflict in your case.

    Q
    How do I Choose a Divorce Lawyer?
    A1. Look for a lawyer experienced in the specialized field of divorce law.

    2. A lawyer familiar in the Court where your case will be heard and known to the particular judges who may be involved with your case is generally helpful.

    3. Legal services are always furnished on the basis of a personal relationship, you need someone you are comfortable working with. Your attorney should be responsive to your questions and concerns and return your phone calls promptly. Finally, your lawyer should be a skilled negotiator and be prepared to aggressively litigate as may be necessary.

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