Robin M. Lynch Nardone

The Appeals Court decision in DeMarco v. DeMarco reminds us that a deal is a deal, even when it’s entered into based upon advice from a trial judge who misinterprets the law.

In this case, the husband and wife were divorced in May 2010. At that time they signed a separation agreement calling for the husband to pay alimony to his wife of until the death of either party, the wife’s remarriage, or such time as the husband had no gross earned income after reaching age 68. After the Alimony Reform Act was passed into law in 2012, the husband filed a complaint for modification seeking to terminate his alimony obligation based upon his having reached full retirement age.… Keep reading

In March 2012, Massachusetts law on alimony was reformed and codified as General Laws Chapter 208, sections 48 – 55. A judicial hearing has been set for Monday, March 7, 2016 at 1 p.m. at the State House seeking further reform of the alimony statute.

The 2012 alimony reform provided for:

  • Durational limits.
  • Termination of alimony upon a payor reaching retirement age.
  • Reduction or termination of an alimony obligation when a recipient cohabitates.

In 2015, the Supreme Judicial Court issued decisions in three cases interpreting the alimony law and held that only the durational limits apply to alimony cases decided (or settled) before March 1, 2012, while the retirement provisions and cohabitation provisions do not.… Keep reading

stuffed animal tigerSince many divorcing people are parents, this new case about physical discipline of children might be of interest. Spanking was more common with previous generations, the practice seems to be dropping off. Under Massachusetts law, a parent or guardian is not subject to criminal prosecution for the use of force against a minor child in his/her care provided the use of force…

  1. Is reasonable.
  2. Is related to the purpose of safeguarding or promoting the welfare of the minor (which can include punishment of misconduct).
  3. Does not cause or create the risk of substantial physical harm or severe mental distress.

Basically, you can physically discipline your children so long as you don’t actually hurt them. This is called “parental privilege.” Recently, our Supreme Judicial Court ruled on whether this privilege should extend to stepparents.… Keep reading

stuffed animal tigerIn my previous post on Adopting a Stepchild, I explained the steps to go through for an uncontested adoption. Many adoptions are very simple and straightforward. However, in situations where there are disagreements about what is best for a child or a parent’s rights are being terminated, the courts must become further involved.

The news media has been buzzing about an internal Memorandum reportedly sent from the Chief Judge of the Probate and Family Court, Angela Ordonez, on August 20, 2015 seeking review of all contested adoption cases in the court system. Specifically, the memorandum is said to require that all pending private adoption cases be reviewed to ensure that children at the center of those disputes have attorneys appointed to represent their interests. Pursuant to the case of Adoption of Meaghan, decided in 2012, children are entitled to counsel in contested adoption proceedings, even private adoptions.… Keep reading

Appeals are not for when you wanted the left slice of the pie, not the right. They're for when the judge makes an error when cutting up the pie.
Appeals are not for when you wanted the right-hand piece of the pie, but got the left.

All too often after a divorce trial, one or both parties is unhappy with the decision reached by the trial judge. It could be about property division issues, custody and parenting, support or other matters within the Judgment. Not all hope is lost, though! You have the right to appeal a final judgment of the Probate and Family Court, by filing a Notice of Appeal in the trial court within 30 days of entry of the judgment. Keep in mind that being disappointed with the terms of the judgment is not a legitimate basis for seeking an appeal.… Keep reading

family
One big happy family!

I am frequently asked by stepparents what is involved in adopting their spouse’s child. The process is often quite simple, and brings a sense of wholeness and belonging to the child and family.

How does this all work?

There are two instances where the adoption of a stepchild is considered uncontested and can move easily through the court system.… Keep reading