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:
• 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
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.
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
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
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
Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite holidays and I was reading this post from the Day on Torts Law Blog and it struck me as a perfect example of love run amok.
Nancy… Keep reading
Hope you enjoyed the first tip! Let’s continue…
The date on a lawyer’s license to practice is not necessarily an indicator of his/her experience and skill as a divorce lawyer. Unlike medicine, in most places, there are very few “specialties” in the law. In Massachusetts, passing the bar exam entitles the new lawyer to practice in any area she chooses, criminal, contract, civil litigation, real estate, and virtually everything else. A special certification is required to appear before admiralty courts, handle patent and copyright litigation, and a few other esoteric legal areas, but divorce isn’t one of them. Conversely, a relatively new attorney who served as a divorce paralegal while going to law school at night may be a terrific divorce practitioner.… Keep reading
Taking a quick break from the list of Top 5 Tips on Picking a Divorce Lawyer to bring you the new Massachusetts child support guidelines.
Massachusetts has deployed new child support guidelines. We have had guidelines substantially unchanged, for about twenty years and the new guidelines are in many ways quite different. Here is a link to a good article on the subject. FYI, Robin is no longer an associate, she just made partner!
It is important to note that if your agreement or judgment is 3 years old or older, the new guidelines are automatic grounds for modification.
Stay tuned for my next post, Tip #2 out of 5 on Picking a Divorce Lawyer.
Nancy… Keep reading
Start by talking with family, friends and acquaintances who are current or recent parties to divorce. Ask them who their attorney is/was, and how they rate him/her. Remember that it isn’t uncommon for both divorce litigants to think they “lost,” and that the lawyer who represented their ex was a superhero. Divorce is an unpleasant business, and many people think they fared badly, when in fact they did very well. Ask if the lawyer returned phone calls reasonably promptly, for example. In some surveys, that’s the number one divorce client complaint. Here are some other areas to ask about.… Keep reading
After deciding to get divorced (if the decision was yours), choosing your divorce attorney may be the most important choice you will make. Divorce cases differ widely. Fact patterns are invariably unique, as are the personalities of the parties. What’s of utmost importance to you will be meaningless to some other litigants. Do you want to avoid a “messy” divorce, or do you want an attack dog to savage your soon-to-be-ex? Was the marriage a short one or was it long term? Is there a lot of money in play or are both parties of limited means? If there are minor children, is custody likely to be an issue?
Choosing the wrong attorney can have a major negative impact on the rest of your life. Your childrens’ lives, as well as close relatives’ lives will be affected as well.
As I write this, we’re entering a new year and a new presidency, a season for new beginings. This blog, in its beginning stages, will focus for a few weeks on the beginning of the divorce lawyer-client relationship. The first five posts will consist of my Top 5 Tips on Picking a Divorce Lawyer.
Nancy… Keep reading