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Showing posts from March, 2012

Does Massachusetts Need Child Custody Reform?

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Following the enactment of the new Alimony Reform Law, the Boston Globe has published an editorial calling for child custody reform. Just as the alimony reform has changed the law from pro-female to pro-male, advocates of child custody reform are seeking pro-male changes as well.

The current law for child custody is based on a standard referred to as “The best interests of the child.” This means that a judge will make all custody decisions by considering what is best for the child. A judge has great discretion in making a decision. A court can award primary custody to one parent or shared custody between both parents. Since the custody decision controls the payment of child support, some people fight over custody as a way to fight child support payments. The result is that people who pay child support frequently call for child custody reform.

As a lawyer, I always explain the way that the courts currently approach child custody as trying to preserve the status quo. In most m…

What to wear and how to behave in Family Court

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What people wear to court and how they behave in the courthouse can make a difference in how the court treats them.   Whether you are in court with a lawyer or as a pro-se litigant, how the court views your appearance and behaviour can affect your case.  This is true for all types of actions from contested divorce to a non-contested adoption.  You always want to make a good impression on the Judge.

Dress respectfully.

The Judge holds your fate in the palm of the Judge's hand. You should act as if you want to please the judge at every opportunity. I frequently describe the way to dress as the way people dress when going to church. It is a formal setting. No shorts, halter tops, or stained or torn clothing. Clothing that is very fashionable may be too revealing for a court setting. Clothes that are too sexy may offend a Judge.

Dress the part.

Don't cry poverty and wear an expensive watch or carry an expensive purse. If you are appearing in court requesting money fr…

Working with a co-parent.

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In the Massachusetts Family and Probate Courts, the focus in divorce and related cases, is always on the best interests of the children.  Children are viewed as incompetents who need protection from the State.  In these cases, the State is represented by the Judge.  Parties who come before the courts need to work to improve the lives of the children.  An article by Donna Ferber, a therapist in Connecticut, discusses a common problem:  dealing with an uncooperative co-parent.  She discusses the problem and makes excellent suggestions on how to interact with the other parent for the best interests of the child.  This article is worth reading.  As a divorce attorney, I measure the success of cases involving children by the actions of the children when they become adults.If a child is able to lead an independent, productive life with employment and healthy relationships, then the case was a success.In contrast, if the child has addictions, is unable to work, sabotages relationships, or ca…