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Showing posts from January, 2012

Can grandparents get visitation rights?

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In Massachusetts, there is a law that on it's face creates the rights for grandparents to visit their children under a court order if the parents are divorced, one parent has died, or paternity is established by a court. This law, G.L. c. 119, § 39D, was interpreted by the Supreme Judicial Court in the case of Blixt v. Blixt, 437 Mass. 649 (2002). In this case, the Court recognized that parents have the constitutional right to raise their children without undo interference from the state. Applying this to grandparent rights, the court found that the statute can only be used to protect a significant prior existing relationship between the grandparent and the child and that intervention by the state is necessary to prevent harm to the children. Applying this to possible facts, basically, the grandparent must have had almost daily interaction with the child. It is best to consult an attorney before seeking grandparent visitation.

Financial Statements and Accuracy

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Every person who appears in a divorce or support proceeding that involves money or finances must fill out a financial statement. If your income is under $75,000.00 per year you should fill out the short form. If your income is $75,000.00 or greater, you should fill out the long form. Financial Statement Forms including schedules for self employment and rental income and instructions for filling out the forms may be found at http://www.mass.gov/courts/courtsandjudges/courts/probateandfamilycourt/forms.html#financial.

I describe financial statements as the heart and soul of divorces. This is the most important document filed in the proceeding. This document will determine child support, division of property, and alimony. Everything else, all exhibits and testimony are to convince the judge that the financial statement is accurate or inaccurate. If the statement is accurate, it means that the person was truthful and acting in good faith. If the statement is inaccurate, it …

Massachusetts alimony reform law – alimony formula

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I have heard many people talk about the new alimony reform law as containing a “formula” for alimony. In my opinion, this is not quite true. The new law contains a formula for the maximum amount of alimony a person can receive. The formula also has conditions that must be met before alimony can be awarded. This formula starts by calculating the length of time that is counted for the marriage. It then limits the income that can be considered for payment of alimony. Finally, it sets forth a math formula for calculating the maximum amount of alimony to be awarded. The law sets forth many factors and gives judges great discretion to grant or deny alimony.

The length of time counted as the marriage to determine alimony can include time before marriage if the couple cohabitation and combined their finances. A couple that lived together for ten years, got married and then separated after five years could have a fifteen year marriage for alimony purposes.

Income that can be considere…

Parental alienation can cause a change in custody.

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Some people are not satisfied to get divorced. They want to inflict pain on their ex-spouse. When the couple have children, the children afford an easy method of hurting the other parent. Some parents use the children as weapons for the sole purpose of causing emotional pain to the other parent. They interfere with visitation and attempt to alienate the children from the other parent. Not only is this harmful to the other parent, it is also harmful to the children. In a recent case of Barrington v. Barrington, the Court changed custody from mother to father due to parental alienation.
The focus should be on the best interests of the children. Parents should try to get along for the benefit of the children. Divorce lawyers should guide their clients to avoid this type of harmful behavior.

Communication with your ex-spouse. Use Email.

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If a couple have children, their relationship doesn't end when they get divorced. They will continue to interact for the rest of their combined lives. The worst way to communicate is in front of the children. Parents who communicate in person tend to do so when they exchange the children for visitation. The children are exposed to every argument and every angry word. Children pick up on these and are likely to have adverse reactions. Even if the children don't show a reaction, they are likely to suffer emotionally.   If the parents communicate by telephone, children are likely to hear one side of the conversations. It is better to keep the communications entirely private from the children. E-mail does this.

Email offers many advantages to other forms of communication. E-mail is private. It allows a greater ability to think before responding. A person who is prone to spontaneous statements can reflect before writing a response. Email can be printed and produced in …