In a Massachusetts divorce property is divided equitably and not necessarily 50/50. The division of property must be fair but that does not always translate into equal. Division of property in Massachusetts is governed under M.G.L. c. 208, §34. This statute lists a number of factors for the court to consider when dividing the marital estate.
If you have questions regarding dividing your marital estate contact Attorney Erin M. Charron for a free initial consultation.
Until recently the prospect of alimony is filled with uncertainty. Recent legislative reforms have changed the Massachusetts alimony laws. The alimony law is found at M.G.L. c. 208, §48-55.
The alimony reform legislation creates a formula for determining limits to alimony for shorter marriages and provides for several types of spousal maintenance that could benefit spouses after the termination of a relatively short marriage.
General Term Alimony
This type of alimony may be granted to a spouse who is financially dependent on the other. Previously, general term alimony could be ordered for an indefinite length of time. Under the Alimony Reform Act, general term alimony payments will end if the recipient spouse remarries or moves in with a significant other. Payments may also end when the paying spouse retires.
In addition, the Alimony Reform Act provides a formula for the amount of time general term alimony may be ordered, based on the length of the marriage.
Other Types of Alimony
While the new law provides limits on the length of general term alimony – especially for short marriages – it also provides for several other types of alimony that may benefit spouses after short marriages. Judges may order:
- Reimbursement alimony when a spouse married for five or fewer years has contributed to the other spouse’s financial resources, such as by helping a spouse through graduate or professional school. The spouse may receive one or more payments as compensation for this financial contribution.
- Transitional alimony when a spouse who has been married for five or fewer years needs financial compensation to transition to a different lifestyle or a new location. These spouses may receive one or more payments during the three-year period after the divorce.
- Rehabilitative alimony when a spouse is financially dependent, but may become economically self-sufficient within a certain period of time. It may be granted for up to five years.
With respect to child support, Massachusetts has developed the Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines to determine the appropriate amount of support. We will explain all aspects of child support such as the details of the child support guidelines, enforcement of support orders, increasing or decreasing current child support orders, and insuring the court has all the necessary information to make an accurate support determination. If you have questions regarding child support, whether you are the recipient or payor, contact Charron and Flaws, LLC for a free initial consultation.
Custody and Visitation
If you have children, custody and support will be two of the most important issues to be decided in your divorce. As a family law attorney we spend a great deal of time helping you understand what custody and parenting plans mean both in legal terms and what they mean in everyday life after divorce. There are two kinds of child custody in Massachusetts.
- Legal custody, which is the right to make major decisions regarding medical care, education and religious upbringing; and
- Physical custody, which is where the child primarily lives
In most cases, both parents will have joint or shared legal custody. Sole legal custody is rare, except in cases of abuse, drug addiction, or when there is either a restraining order or a breakdown in communication between the parents.
One parent will usually have primary physical custody. That parent could be the father or the mother. We have helped both mothers and fathers obtain primary residential custody of their children.
Sometimes parents share both legal and physical custody. This is where they share decision making and the child resides approximately 50% of the time with each parent.
If child custody is contested, the court will sometimes appoint a guardian ad litem to determine the best interests of the child. The parent who does not have primary custody will see the child according to a parenting schedule.
While both parents will jointly make major decisions, the parent with primary physical custody will make day-to-day decisions.
At Charron and Flaws we understand the emotional toll custody disputes can have on a family. If you have questions regarding custody or parenting plans contact Charron and Flaws for free initial consultation.
Many couples are now choosing Divorce Mediation as the preferred method to end their marriages. These are couples that want an amicable divorce. Mediation for divorce has great benefits to divorcing couples. For divorcing couples committed to mediation, it is the chance to move forward in their lives without the bitterness that generally accompanies litigated divorces. At Charron and Flaws we are skilled and trained mediators who will assist in all aspect of divorce mediation from meeting with the parties, drafting an agreement, and filing all necessary paperwork with the court. As long as the parties are committed to the process this can be a very cost effective method to divorce. Contact our office regarding mediation services. We will charge an hourly rate and assist in achieving an amicable resolution to divorce.
Post Judgment Modifications
After a judgment is entered there are many issues that are subject to modification if a major change in circumstances occurs. For example, support can be increased or decreased and custody and parenting arrangements can be altered. If you feel your judgment should be modified or are facing a modification action contact Charron and Flaws for a free initial consultation.
When any temporary order or final judgment is signed by a Judge in the Probate & Family Court, it becomes enforceable. That means that one of the parties can seek the court’s help if the other party does not follow the order. This is done when the innocent party takes the affirmative step of filing a complaint for contempt. Essentially, one party is saying that the other party is in contempt of court because the order was not followed and is asking the court to force the other party to comply. To be held in contempt, there must be a finding that an enforceable order exists, that one of the parties has violated or failed to comply with the order, and that the person charged with contempt had the ability and means to comply. The offender can be ordered to cooperate, face incarceration and pay the innocent party’s attorney’s fees.
Often times a party will file a Complaint for Contempt when they have no cause to do so. At Charron and Flaws we will strive to insure that all orders are enforced and will defend against complaints filed on an innocent party. Call Charron and Flaws, LLC for a free initial consultation if a court order is not properly being followed or you feel you were wrongfully served with a Complaint.
Same Sex Divorce
In many ways divorce law in Massachusetts treats same-sex marriages and opposite-sex marriages the same. However, it is important to have an experienced attorney who is knowledgeable in a few key ways these cases will differ. At Charron and Flaws we are experienced attorneys in the area of same sex divorce. Contact our office for a free consultation if you are contemplating divorce or are already in the process.