Questions

Can recreational marijuana be used against me in a child custody case?

The legalization of marijuana in Massachusetts has left some questions regarding parental rights in child custody cases. Like alcohol, marijuana can be used by adults 21 and older without legal repercussions for safe use on private property. According to subsection (4)(d) of Massachusetts General Laws, unless the child is placed in unreasonable danger, parental rights can’t be changed solely based on the use or possession of marijuana. While Massachusetts laws prohibit marijuana use as a reason to change a child custody arrangement, it can still factor into custody proceedings. Family courts consider many different factors when determining custody. As with any child custody case, decisions must always reflect the child’s

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Do I really have to pay my ex’s student loan debt?

The short answer, maybe. Under Massachusetts divorce law, assets and debts are subject to equitable distribution. The division of assets and debts is attempted to be split fairly, although not necessarily equally. A variety of factors are taken into account by the court when dividing assets and debts- including how long the parties were married, their needs, and the financial contribution made by each party during the marriage. Generally, assets acquired or owned by one spouse before the marriage, in a short-term marriage, will be considered separate property rather than marital property. This may include inheritances, real estate property, etc., and are not subject to division. The longer the marriage,

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Does My Spouse Automatically Get The House In Our Divorce If My Name Isn’t Listed On The Deed?

It is not uncommon for only one spouse to be named on the deed of a home. However, the fact that only one spouse is named on the deed is not determinative in a divorce proceeding. All marital property is subject to Equitable Distribution under M.G.L. Chapter 208, Section 34, the statute governing the factors to be considered by a Judge when making a determination of equitable division of the marital estate. In making a determination regarding the distribution of real estate in divorce matters, the court will consider the length of the marriage, when the property was purchased, the amount and source of any downpayment, as well as each

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Is my Spouse Entitled to My Inheritance in a Divorce Proceeding?

In divorce proceedings the Courts divide property under an “equitable division” of assets standard, utilizing various factors outlined by statute, specifically M.G.L. Chapter 208, Section 34. Inheritances received by either spouse are generally viewed differently by the Courts in connection with a division of assets, as opposed to assets acquired by the parties through their marital partnership. To the extent that the marriage is one of short duration (1 to 5 years), the party receiving the inheritance will generally keep their inheritance as his/her sole and separate property. In longer term marriages, the Courts will look to see when the inheritance was received and further as to whether the inheritance

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Can I Change My Original Divorce Agreement?

There are two ways to request modifications to your original divorce agreement and/or subsequent Judgments entered by the Court. The first method, if the requested change is mutually agreed upon, is by filing a Joint Petition to Modify a Prior Judgment, along with your executed agreement for judgment. To the extent that the requested change involves financial matters, both parties will be required to complete and file updated financial statements with the court. The second method, if the requested change is not agreed upon, is facilitated by the filing of a complaint for modification with the court. Once the summons is received from the Court, a copy of the summons

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What does it mean to be “held in contempt” by the court?

Contempt is a tool used by Probate and Family Courts to enforce compliance with court orders. In the event one party is not following a court-appointed order, the other party can file a Complaint for Contempt with the court. This process requires the initiating party to show that the other party (the defendant) is in willful violation of a clear and unequivocal order. Someone who violates or disobeys a court order risks being held in contempt by the court. Such violations may include failing to pay alimony or child support or refusal to comply with a parenting schedule ordered by the court. To the extent that a party is adjudicated

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What to do when your ex refuses to comply with your parenting schedule?

Once you’ve completed the process of going through a divorce, settling on child support, and agreeing to a parenting schedule, you’d think you can finally move forward and start your new life. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. When you’re facing the frustrating reality that your ex simply won’t comply with your legally binding agreements, whether that be alimony payments or a parenting schedule, you have options. Massachusetts residents can file a complaint for contempt to address non-compliance with temporary orders and final judgments. Understanding the ins and out of contempt proceedings is an essential part of litigation in the Probate and Family Court, which is why working with an

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If my ex purchased our marital home before we were married, can I request the house as part of my divorce settlement?

The simple answer is yes, you can request the marital home as part of your divorce settlement. However, divorcing couples may request specific assets during the division of property, but that doesn’t mean their request will be awarded. Massachusetts law requires the division of property in a divorce to be equitable. This means property division must be fair, though not necessarily equal. Massachusetts law allows a judge to divide all property regardless of when it was acquired or which spouse actually owns it. When dividing assets, such as property, a judge will consider the length of the marriage, the present and future needs of any dependent children, each spouse’s income

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Am I Allowed to Date if My Divorce is Pending?

Divorce can be a lengthy process, and for many divorcing couples, the marriage is over emotionally long before a divorce is legally pursued. It’s not uncommon for a spouse to consider dating while their divorce is pending. The short answer to the question ‘to date or not to date’ is that there is no law in Massachusetts that prevents spouses from dating after separating or divorcing. So yes, you are allowed to date when your divorce is pending. However, before diving into the dating pool, you should be aware of the potential legal and financial consequences. Keep in mind, under the law, you are considered to be legally married until

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What is co-parenting, and how do we do it once we are divorced?

Co-parenting describes a parenting relationship in which the two parents of a child are not romantically involved but still assume joint responsibility for their child’s upbringing. The extent to which parents can effectively co-parent significantly impacts how children will adjust to the transitions associated with a separation or divorce. Parents are responsible for major-life decisions, like those concerning religion, discipline, finances, morality, recreation, physical health, education, and emergencies. Whether married or divorced, agreement on these matters can differ but should be discussed and made jointly. It’s not uncommon for parents to be uncooperative with one another during a divorce. This usually stems from hurt feelings or unresolved anger, grief, or

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