SJC Rules That a Biological Connection Is Not Required for Parentage

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) has ruled that a person may establish herself as a child’s presumptive parent without the need for a biological relationship to the child. The same-sex partner of a woman who gave birth to two children conceived via artificial insemination during their committed, but non-marital, relationship is entitled to the presumption that she is a legal parent of the children.

The Story Behind Partanen v. Gallagher

Karen Partanen and Julie Gallagher were in a committed relationship for 12 years, but never married. In 2005, they decided to start a family with a “shared intention of both being parents of the resulting children.” Partanen tried artificial insemination, but was unable to become pregnant. In 2007, Gallagher conceived a child using assistive reproductive technology and gave birth to a baby girl. In 2012, Gallagher gave birth to a son. Partanen did not adopt the children and never signed an “acknowledgment of parentage” form. This form would have given her legal status as the children’s parent.

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12 of the Most Common Divorce-Related Questions

divorce-related questions

You have questions. We have answers to at least 12 of them.

Hi there,

If you’re considering a divorce, prepare to face some of the most difficult questions of your life. The divorce process doesn’t have to be a minefield of uncertainty, though. Some of the most common mistakes are also the most avoidable, as long as you have the right direction.

Join my colleague, attorney Michael (Mick) Judge for an inside look at the divorce process. He’ll touch on pre-divorce considerations (including pre-nuptial agreements, divorce mediation and marriage counseling), the divorce process, and post-divorce matters (including modifications and contempt actions). A financial advisor will join him to address many of the pressing financial implications of your divorce.

What: The ABC’s of Divorce: Now is the time to begin your education…

When: Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Where: Burns and Levinson LLP, 125 Summer Street, Boston, MA

Cost: Registration is complimentary through this link.

Starting right at the beginning, Mick will walk you through some of the key issues involved in a standard divorce case.

  1. How is a divorce case started?
  2. What types of divorces are there?
  3. How are child custody cases handled?
  4. What is the role of a guardian ad litem?
  5. How is child support calculated?
  6. What constitutes marital property and how is it divided?
  7. How are debts divided?
  8. Am I entitled to, or will I have to pay, spousal support?
  9. Who pays for health and life insurance?
  10. How do we file our taxes?
  11. Can I make my spouse pay for my lawyer?
  12. When and how does a divorce become final?

We’ll be doing a follow-up blog series to answer these questions, but don’t miss the chance to discuss these topics in person!


How to Choose the Right Divorce Attorney for You

how to choose the right attorney

Hi there,

People have very strong opinions on whether to hire a divorce attorney. One friend may tell you, “Oh I didn’t use an attorney, and it was fine.” Another may say, “My attorney was terrible, the ex got everything!” Don’t let others’ experiences with divorce solely guide your decision when hiring legal counsel for your separation.

Many people think it’ll be easier if they don’t bring lawyers into the picture. They think they can save money, or allow the divorce to be less contentious. But even if you’re going to negotiate directly with your spouse or use a mediator, you still need to double check everything with an attorney. You don’t have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars or drag your spouse into years of litigation, quite the opposite. Double-checking with an attorney can probably save you legal headaches down the road. They can provide more valuable information than you will ever find from google. Guidance on protecting your digital assets, new changes in alimony laws, rights you may not know about or complex processes to avoid.

Every situation is unique. If you have kids or complicated assets, you might need a top shelf divorce attorney. Make sure you have appropriate legal advice any time there is a concern of physical, mental or substance abuse. If there’s a family-owned business or trust involved, things get complicated quickly. However, in many routine cases, you can get terrific representation from a junior partner or associate. With the right plan in place, you should be able to find an attorney you can afford that will weigh in with the appropriate amount of advice needed for your situation.

Be Prepared

If you haven’t been involved in your family’s finances because the other spouse handles them, get to know your budget. You will likely need to bring in a financial advisor to help you sort through the bank accounts, retirement accounts, investments, credit cards, mortgages and liabilities. This will help you determine how much you can afford for a divorce attorney.

Use your network of trusted family, friends and coworkers to ask pointed questions about divorce lawyers friends or acquaintances have used. Don’t be afraid to google the attorney’s name to learn more about them. A reputable attorney will likely have a profile on sites like LinkedIn, Martindale Hubbell or Avvo.

Plan to interview a few prospective lawyers to find the right fit. Some attorneys charge a fee for this initial consultation, some don’t. The consultation usually lasts about an hour. Make sure you come prepared with all the information and documentation possible. Most of all, your divorce attorney should be someone you feel comfortable talking to and discussing all aspects of your case with.