Hi there,
 
In my last post I mentioned the Family Service Office of the Probate Court.  That is the department which is tasked with getting litigants to settle their cases. Most cases do settle, which is a good thing as the system would otherwise be totally overwhelmed. It is also a good thing for the parties, as an agreement in which you have had some say is generally better than one which is imposed on you. 
 
Even if it is costly to get there, an agreement is less expensive than trying your case and it has a better chance of being final as well.  One of the best ways in terms of cost and civility to reach an agreement is through mediation.  This is what the Family Service Officers do and here is a good explanation of non Court mandated mediation from Partner Robin Lynch Nardone who has extensive experience in family law mediation:
 
Resolution of a divorce or other family law matter without extensive litigation in the court is possible. Mediation is a voluntary process that invites people to come to agreement through informed negotiation with the assistance of a neutral third party. Mediation gives the Keep reading

Hi There,

Along with many folks my age I have been watching the news regarding Chris Brown and Rhianna with a jaded sense of "here we go again, another classic case of domestic violence playing itself out in the media."  Then the other night I heard a truly terrifying statistic – a poll of 200 Boston area teens revealed over half of them believed that Rhianna was at fault.

Domestic violence is real and the victims are NOT at fault . Oprah (no guys, I don’t watch her someone told me about it) had a good show on this last week. 

If you are a victim of domestic violence here are some useful links where you can find help:

Massachusetts has an excellent violence protection statute too.

May you never need these links,

Best,

Nancy… Keep reading

After the defendant has been served or has entered an appearance, one or both parties usually file a motion asking the court for temporary orders. These deal with important issues such as:
• Who has to move out
• Who has physical custody of the kids (where they live)
• Who has legal custody of the kids (who chooses their doctor)
• Visitation issues (parenting plan)
• Spousal support and/or child support
• Other financial issues such as who pays the mortgage, medicals bills, tuition, etc.
Obviously, these are all compelling and important issues which differ widely from family to family. If the issues can be resolved between the parties, or the parties and their lawyers, then their agreement can be brought to court in the form of a joint stipulation which the judge will (usually) approve and adopt as a court order. The judge will send the parties to Family Service to mediate unresolved issues. Issues remaining after mediation will be decided by the Judge after hearing from both sides.
Before going to Court your attorney should help you prepare a financial statement (there are two – for those with income over $75k and for those with income Keep reading

Hi there,
 
When the complaint for divorce is filed the automatic restraining order on assets immediately applies to the filing party and as soon as the other side is served with the complaint the restraining order likewise then applies to him or her.
 
The purpose behind this is to maintain the status quo so people won’t hide or spend beyond what is normally reasonable. It is not intended to prevent someone who has been managing the couple’s finances from continuing to trade in the ordinary way and thus hopefully to protect assets. AND…because most legislators are lawyers and lawyers can be counted on to take care of themselves, it allows both parties to spend marital assets (and at this point and throughout the divorce ALL assets are considered marital assets) on divorce attorneys.
It also keeps the family’s insurance provisions in place.
 
In my experience Judges take violations of this very seriously, so be very mindful of the restraining order throughout the divorce process.
 
NancyKeep reading

Hi there,

For most divorcing couples the legal process begins with filing what is called the complaint. This is a form (PDF) which sets out the basic information the Court and the other side need. In addition to the obvious, it asks where you last lived together as this tells the court whether or not you have filed in the right county and whether Massachusetts has jurisdiction.

It lists the children, asks if anyone has filed previously and also asks what are the grounds for divorce. Massachusetts is a "no fault" state, we call it "irretrievable breakdown." In practical terms this means that either a person can get a divorce without the assent of the other party and without having to prove the other party at fault. Which brings me to the fault grounds. We have a lot of choices; irretrievable breakdown (two kinds, with an agreement and without one) and fault grounds:
• Adultery
• Cruel and abusive treatment
• Utter desertion continued for one year
• Sentence of confinement in a penal institution
• Gross and confirmed habits of intoxication caused by voluntary and excessive use of intoxicating liquor, opium or other drugs
• Gross or wanton … Keep reading

Hi there,
As you can no doubt tell I am as new to blogging as you probably are to divorce.  New beginnings can be scary, but I find it helps to understand what the process is. This is particularly true when you are dealing with something as arcane as the court system.  My next posts (although I may interrupt them) will be the divorce process in 10 not so easy steps. Divorce is never one size fits all, so this is intended to be an overview of how the procedure often goes in a litigation; mediation will be the topic of another post.   
Best,
Nancy… Keep reading

Hi there,

Glad you’ve followed through to the last tip!  Read on for information to assist you in completing your search for the right attorney to handle your divorce.

Remember, and keep remembering, the purpose of the initial consultation -it is to enable you to decide if the person conversing with you is going to represent you in the divorce process. That person is going to be your guide, your advocate, your advisor, and something very close to a best friend during an incredibly stressful time in your life. There are important specifics, but the most important thing is this: at the end of the interview, do you think that this person will do his or her very best for you?  Specific questions:… Keep reading

Hi there,

We’re getting closer!  Hope these tips are helpful in your search for the right divorce lawyer.

An interview with a prospective lawyer is called a “consultation” or an “initial consultation.” Some charge a fee for this, others don’t. Don’t make the mistake of interviewing only those who offer free initial consults. Most of the best require payment for their time whether a prospective client retains them or not. Find out ahead of time if a fee will be required, and how much. If your spouse is unaware that you are talking with divorce lawyers, you might want to bring cash or a money order, rather than paying by check or credit card in a joint account.… Keep reading

Hi there,

As in most other professions, the best attorneys usually charge the highest legal fees. By “best” we mean those attorneys who obtain favorable results for their clients in most cases. They usually have many years of experience; have only one area of “concentration,” and rarely stray into other areas. This is especially true in the case of divorce lawyers. In and around Boston, Massachusetts, experienced family law practitioners will charge at least $250.00 per hour of work. Many of the best charge $500.00 or more. “Billable time” includes time spent in meetings with the client, opposing counsel, and other individuals such as expert witnesses. Time spent in research and drafting letters and pleadings is, of course, billable time. Most attorneys also bill for time spent traveling to and from court, settlement negotiations on the courthouse steps, and waiting for their cases to be called. Time spent on the telephone and the omnipresent blackberry is also billed.

Of course, not everyone needs or can afford the top shelf attorneys.… Keep reading