Family Law: Parenting Through Your Divorce

posted by Eric Schutzbank

Our children are an integral part of our lives and keeping them safe is what parenting is all about.  Parenting together after divorce presents new challenges to an already difficult process, but navigating painful emotions to maintain a united front is an essential part of the job.  The bottom line is, kids feel healthiest when their parents get along.

Breaking the News

Depending on age, discuss the process openly in your family.  If possible, include both parents in the discussion.  Emphasize that while the family is changing, it is not ending.  Divorce means that a marriage is over, it does not mean that a parent’s relationship to his or her child is over.  Your children should feel secure that both their parents love them and neither parent will leave their lives.  Make sure they understand that the divorce is not their fault, that there is nothing that they can or should do to change things.  Remember to answer their questions with as much care and honesty as possible.  They will probably have quite a few questions, and answering them, repeatedly if necessary, will help them regain the sense of security that they’ve lost.  [Read more...]

Three Ways to Protect Your Credit During a Divorce

posted by Eric Schutzbank

The emotional aspect of divorce often makes it difficult to focus on the details of what needs to take place. One of the areas that is often overlooked is your credit rating. How can you protect yourself? Consider three tips.

1. Take inventory. Pull your credit report to get an idea of everything that is out there. Be aware that some lines of credit may not be reported to a credit bureau. For example, you may have a credit account with your dentist office or other private service provider. Look through past records to try to identify any creditor you may have overlooked that is not on your credit report. You should also find out if your spouse has credit accounts with a private service provider that may be considered marital debt. [Read more...]

What is the time frame on indictment while incarcerated in Massachusetts?

My husband was arraigned 60 days ago and they have been keeping him on 5000 cash bail . I am questioning if there is a time limit on indictment and should he have to be let out by now ?

Attorney Answer: There is no minimum time frame for which the Commonwealth has to indict your husband.  The only requirement is that he be brought into Court every thirty days.  Your husband’s attorney can force the Commonwealth to show that they have probable cause for the charges.  If sufficient time passes, your husband’s attorney can move to reexamine bail and reduce it to personal recognizance based on the Commonwealth’s failure to indict in a timely manner.  Depending on the strength of the case and your husband’s criminal record, there may also come a point where he may want to enter into a plea for time served.  Without knowing the facts of the case and more about your husband’s record and history, I cannot be any more specific.  I suggest you speak with his attorney who should be able to answer your questions so long as you are not the named victim in the case.  Good luck!

Two things you need to know before you divorce

For Massachusetts residents, here are two important areas of divorce law you should be aware of:

Property Division

Pursuant to Massachusetts General Law Chapter 208 Section 34, property is divided in an equitable manner (this is often but not always equal) based on a series of factors that include (but are not necessarily limited to) the length of the marriage, the vocational skill or employment capability of each spouse, the financial and non-financial contribution of each spouse to the marital estate, the source of the capital contributions, the conduct of each spouse throughout the marriage, and the age and physical health of each spouse. The Court does not simply look at who was the “breadwinner” or source of income or finances during the marriage.  Marriage is viewed by the Court as a partnership and things like who cared for the children and other non-financial contributions are taken into consideration.


Alimony is not the same as child support.  It is based mostly on need.   There are three basic types of alimony: General Term, Rehabilitative; or Reimbursement.  Reimbursement alimony is awarded where one spouse made a major financial contribution or sacrifice so the other spouse could better themselves (usually through education or employment).  Rehabilitative alimony is awarded where a spouse needs assistance getting on his or her “financial feet” because they have been out of the work force for some reason or maybe are still in school.  General Term alimony is spousal support based on the same factors as property division plus financial need for the recipient and ability to pay of the payor.

A divorce can be an emotionally trying and painful process. We are a skilled and experienced family law firm who will make sure the legal aspects of your divorce doesn’t compound your troubles. Call or email us to schedule your consultation.

Will I be entitled to anything when we divorce?

Additional Info:  We have been married for 6 months and I realize it was a mistake and want a divorce. We got married because I am pregnant with his child. We rent an apartment in Lowell. He has some money in savings, I do not.

Attorney Answer:

Once the child is born, you will be entitled to child support assuming he earns more than you and you are the primary custodial parent of the child.  With respect to asset division, this is a short term marriage, so it is likely that the Court would look to put the parties in the financial situation they were in before the marriage (in other words you each keep what you have).  That being said, if you need to move and he has more in assets and earnings, it is possible you could receive some money to assist with your move.

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Can my ex prevent me from moving out of the country with our daughter?

Additional Information:

My ex and I have a 6 year old daughter.  He sees her every other weekend and occasionally during the week.  We live in Acton, MA but I have met someone who lives outside of the US and we are getting married this year.  I am also pregnant with his child.   I want to move with my daughter to be near him.  What are my legal responsibilities in this situation?  I’d still like my daughter to be able to see her biological father, but obviously it’s not going to be as frequent and can he prevent us from moving?


The short answer to whether or not you can be prevented is that it depends on what the current Court Orders state and the nature of your relationship between your ex and the child.  If you were married to the father of your daughter, you will absolutely have to file a Complaint for Modification seeking permission to “remove” the child from the Commonwealth for residency purposes.  There is strong case law that outlines the factors that are considered by the Court in determining whether or not to permit the removal.  The fact that you are pregnant and engaged to be married may or may not be sufficient grounds to justify the granting of the relief you’re seeking.  The Court will look at the advantage to you and the child as well as what is in the best interests of the child.  The closeness of your daughter’s relationship to her biological father will play a significant factor as well.  The exception to the above would be if your ex agreed to the removal in writing.  I would strongly suggest that you consult with a family law attorney as soon as possible.  [Read more...]

Who has visitation rights?

Recently, many states have passed laws that give grandparents certain visitation rights with a child after a divorce or after the death of the child’s parent.

Predictably, this has given rise to questions about whether this right should be extended to other close relatives, such as aunts, uncles and cousins.

The issue came up recently in Minnesota, when a woman asked for visitation rights with her niece – the daughter of her recently deceased identical twin sister.

The woman argued that since Minnesota has a law that gives visitation rights to grandparents, it only made sense to include other family members as well.

But the Minnesota Supreme Court said that the law was to benefit grandparents and shouldn’t be extended to other relatives – except perhaps in unusual cases where another relative had previously been acting in place of the child’s parents.

What are consequences for minor daughter arrested for petty theft?

Additional Information:

What are the consequences for petty theft in MA for my teenage daughter (under 18 years old)?  It is her first time getting in trouble.  Some girls had dared her to steal from a store in Tewksbury and challenged her to see how much she could steal.  She was arrested for merchandise totaling $200.


It depends on how old your daughter is.  If she is under age 17, she will be charged in the Juvenile Court.  If she is 17, she will be charged as an adult in Lowell District Court.  There are a wide range of possible consequences.  Under the facts as you present them, it is likely that she would be looking at a dismissal upon payment of Court costs and any restitution.  She could also receive pretrial probation (which is when a Defendant is placed on probation without any type of admission in Court and the case is subsequently dismissed if she complies with the terms of probation) or receive what is called a Continuance without a Finding in which she admits to sufficient facts to find her guilty but is not found guilty.  If she complies with any probationary terms for the continuance period, the case is dismissed.  Massachusetts law allows for more significant penalties such as a conviction or incarceration but those are extremely unlikely for a first offense for someone with no criminal record.  [Read more...]

Can you change your children’s name after divorce?

After a couple divorced, the wife asked a court to change their two children’s last name to her maiden name. (The children had been given the husband’s last name at birth.)

The judge agreed, saying that since the mother was the primary residential parent, it should be presumed that she was acting in the children’s best interests, and her decision should be respected.

But the father appealed, and a higher court sided with him.

The appeals court said that this result might make sense in the case of a child who was born out of wedlock. For instance, if a child were born as a result of a momentary physical relationship between a couple, or during a very brief relationship, then the parent who later assumed responsibility for the child might have a right to choose the most appropriate name.

However, where children are the product of a marriage, and were named by a “marital partnership” with the intent that their names be permanent, one parent can’t simply reverse that decision without the other parent’s consent, the court said.