Know When to Settle: A Cautionary Tale about the Cost of Litigation

In the midst of a legal dispute, agreeing to mediate or settle can feel like a loss. In addition to legal fees, litigation can have hidden costs in time, emotional energy, unwanted publicity, and prolonged uncertainty.

Are Your Family’s Assets Safe?

Transferring a property’s title to a family member is a common method of protecting that property from creditors. Such transfers do not always guarantee, however, that creditors will be prevented from reaching it. A May 2013 Massachusetts Appeals Court case, Citizens Bank v. Coleman, specifies the criteria that a court will consider in determining whether […]

My Kid is in College! When Can I Quit Paying Child Support?

Many parents reason that they should be able to stop paying child support when a child turns eighteen, finishes high school, or begins a job or college. In Massachusetts, G.L. c. 208, § 28 limits the support orders for these older children, but provides that the court may still order support for children aged 18-20 […]

Responsibility to Protect Children from Abusive Co-Parents

Massachusetts law allows parents many rights in raising their children. However, parents also have responsibilities, including protecting children from abusive co-parents. This was illustrated by a recent Appeals Court case. In Adoption of Cecily, a mother’s parental rights were terminated after she was found to have left her child with the child’s father, knowing that […]

Modifications of Child Support Orders More Easily Available Under New Standard

No material or substantial change in circumstances is now required to seek modification of a child support order!

Parental Fitness or Best Interests of the Child? Balancing the Interests of Parent and Child in Custody Disputes

How does a court determine who gets custody of a child? “Parental fitness” and “the best interests of the child” are standards that are used together to make custody and guardianship decisions in Massachusetts. See Veronica Serrato, “Case Comment: Best interests of the child versus unfitness of the parent: Unraveling the intertwinement,” 94 Mass. L.R. […]

Attribution of Income to an Unemployed Spouse at Divorce

In assigning child support and alimony, Massachusetts courts may “attribute” or “impute” income to a voluntarily unemployed or underemployed divorcing party. The imputed income is based on what that spouse could be earning, considering education, job history, experience, and local job opportunities.

New Alimony Law Now in Effect!

As of March 1, 2013, many people who have been paying alimony are eligible for a reduction or termination of their alimony obligations. Retirees and those with marriages of five years or less are most likely to receive modifications at this time, while others will become eligible in subsequent years. These reductions are the result […]

Family Court Judges May Now Impose Non-Compete Orders on Spouses

In May 2012, the Massachusetts Appeals Court expanded the equitable authority of Probate and Family Court judges by holding that judges have authority to impose non-compete orders where division of a family business is in controversy. See Cesar v. Sundelin, 81 Mass. App. Ct. 721 (2012).

Can property awarded to one spouse at the time of divorce, later be considered a source of income in determining spouses’ child support or alimony obligations?

At divorce, Massachusetts equitably divide marital assets and liabilities between the parties. G.L. c. 208, § 34. Child support and alimony calculations are then based, in part, on the incomes of the parties. Should income from assets assigned at divorce later be considered in determining child support and alimony?