Is it common to have second thoughts about signing our settlement agreement?

Additional Info: My spouse and I are going to be signing our settlement agreement this week. But I am having second thoughts about parts of the agreement. I am not so sure I want to sign because of that. As I read over the agreement days prior to signing, I am not so sure now.…

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How is income divided at divorce?

Additional info: For MA, I’ve heard 30% of the difference in income is typically paid from the higher income spouse to other spouse as alimony until retirement. Does this include only primary job, or also occasional consulting, book royalties, etc? What if income spikes or falls in some years? What if someone quits or gets…

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What Color Is This Dress And Questions Of Perception In Divorce Mediation

By Tracy Fischer This dress is creating an internet frenzy. It has even had an appearance on the network news – is it blue and black or white and gold? It turns out people interpret color in different ways, though the dress is actually blue and black. Each individual’s brain assigns more or less weight…

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New Mortgage Rules: The Effects on Separation and Divorce

By Tracy Fischer Recent Fannie Mae mortgage guidelines changes are causing delays and difficulties among couples who are going through separation and divorce. It is crucial to be prepared and to know what to expect. In the past, husbands or wives could fairly easily begin the process to move on by preparing to purchase a…

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Alternatives to Massachusetts Family Court

By Tracy Fischer Family law disputes such as divorce, child custody, visitation, and spousal support discussions are often emotional and can be stressful. When two parties cannot agree, they may believe taking their case to court is the only option. However, litigation is expensive, emotionally draining and can be a very lengthy process. Additionally, the…

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How to Choose a Divorce Mediator in Massachusetts

When looking for and choosing a divorce mediator you should consider a variety of factors.  The most important is experience and training of the mediator.  The Massachusetts Council of Family Mediators has a rigorous certification process for divorce and family mediators.  As the current chairperson of the Certification Committee for MCFM, and a Certified Mediator…

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Alimony and Remarriage in Massachusetts

Divorce is a challenging time for both spouses. So many factors involving the outcome can have lasting effects. Alimony is no exception. Alimony refers to a specified amount of money paid to one spouse by the other spouse during and after divorce. The purpose is to help the lower-earning spouse maintain a reasonable standard of…

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Massachusetts Financial Statement in Divorce Mediation

By Tracy Fischer When you are in the process of getting a divorce, you may feel overwhelmed by all of the decisions you have to make. If you and your spouse are able to be amicable towards each other, then mediation is a viable and effective alternative to litigation especially when it comes to settling…

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With the new Massachusetts Divorce laws on alimony, can my alimony be ceased due to new circumstances?

Additional Info: I have been divorced for over 27 yrs. and am still paying alimony. I am now 72 yrs. of age and live solely on social security.   Answer: With the new changes in the law it is possible that your alimony obligation would be modified however, what your divorce agreement or judgment says…

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Spousal Support Modification – Is it right for you?

There are many existing divorce agreements that have orders of spousal support or alimony. Recently, many states, including Massachusetts, have instituted new guidelines to determine who will receive alimony and for how long. The alimony that was set in an agreement or judgment years ago may no longer make financial sense.   There may be specific…

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Can I petition to change our visitation schedule?

Additional Info: My ex and I are in the process of divorce and have a custody agreement, and temporary orders set in place. He has our 1 year old son every Monday over night into Tuesday. However, he works Mondays and Tuesday, and pawns my son off on his family. He also has our son…

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Parenting Together Through Divorce

By Tracy Fischer Our children are an integral part of our lives and keeping them safe and feeling secure 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…

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I want a divorce but my husband refuses to leave.

Additional Info: I don’t have any family or friends that can let me and my 2 small children stay with them and not enough money to move out right away. Is there anything legally I can do to make him leave while we start the divorce process? Answer: I would suggest that you consider divorce…

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What’s In A Name?

By Tracy Fischer When a couple marries one of the big decisions made initially will be…. what last name the female spouse will use. There may be a difference of opinion that will need to be ironed out.  Will she keep her maiden name, will she take her new husband’s name or will the name…

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Will using a mediator put me at a financial disadvantage?

Additional information:  My husband and I separated last fall. I have always homeschooled my children (something we both agreed upon). I have a M.S. in Nutrition and up until this past January, I have put my career on hold to homeschool the kids. I think that I have a right to get 50% of our…

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How can I use QDRO money without penalty?

Additional information: I’m 40, getting divorced & expect $50K from QDRO. I’m so in debt. How can I use QDRO money without penalty? Answer: There is a little known exception to the requirement that an early distribution from a retirement plan causes one to pay a 10% penalty on the money withdrawn.  If this QDR…

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Supreme Court Decision’s Effect on Same-Sex Divorce

By Tracy Fischer The new Supreme Court ruling striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as a union between only a man and a woman, has surprising ramifications not only for marriage but also for divorce.  Until now, in Massachusetts a same-sex marriage that led to a divorce had several complicating factors.…

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Is The Time Right To Sell The Former Marital Home?

By Tracy Fischer – June 2013 Many divorce agreements drafted over the past few years provide for joint ownership of the marital home, with one party residing in the home usually with the children. Often when these arrangements are made, parents want to maintain stability for the children, trying to keep the same school system…

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Will the courts grant my ex-wife alimony?

Additional information: My ex wife wants alimony but refuses to pay me child support. She is currently living with her new boyfriend and to date has refused to support her daughter but is insisting on me giving her alimony. Will the courts grant her alimony even when she is working full-time but refusing to work…

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Massachusetts’ New Alimony Law and How it Could Affect You

By Tracy Fischer The Massachusetts Alimony Reform Act was signed into law in 2011 and became effective a little over a year ago. This law brought about sweeping new changes in the way alimony is awarded in the state, and many orders issued prior to its enactment could be modified as a result. One of…

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Is mediation the right course for my divorce?

Additional information: My Husband and I lived together for 8 years before marrying in Aug 2010. We have no children and the majority of our assets (including our condo) are in his name only due to my poor credit. Now that he has asked for a divorce I have found reason to believe he is…

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Co-Parenting Successfully through Divorce – Establish a Parenting Plan

By Tracy Fischer The decision has been made and action has been taken. Whether your divorce was mutually agreed upon or contested, what should be agreed upon is the direction for raising your children. Whether you are the mother or father, you need to make sure that you are parenting together. Your children have the…

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My husband controls all the money. How can I afford a divorce lawyer?

Additional Information: We have been married for 32 years. I stayed home to raise our two children. When they were older I starting working until I got laid off fairly recently. Last year I developed many health issues that caused me to not be able to work. I work part time now despite health issues.…

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May 1, 2013 – A four part series: When Your Kids Push Your Buttons

  With Danya Handelsman, Pediatric Physical Therapist and Parent Coach Download Event Flyer End the action-reaction cycle between you and your child Learn to recognize what pushes your buttons Defuse difficult, emotionally charged interactions Change your reaction when your kids challenge you Regain your parental authority Positively reconnect with your children Become the parent you…

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Can the divorce paperwork be submitted without his financials or mine for that matter?

Additional Information:  My husband and I will be separating and I met with a lawyer (initial consult)and told him that husband and I want a very amicable divorce as husband doesn’t want anything and we have no children but the lawyer wants him to submit financials for both myself and him. Husband will not have…

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If I start the divorce litigation process, can I still use a mediator?

Additional Information: My wife doesn’t seem to want to get the process started so if I initiate and file for divorce does that require court or can I still use a mediator and does it force a time frame to start and resolve the divorce? Answer: You can certainly file for divorce and still use…

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Getting divorced on irreconcilable differences

Additional Information: I have friends who are married, both with learning disabilities. They want to get divorced based on irreconcilable differences. They don’t have children, only a house with a mortgage – how does that work? Answer This couple may benefit from divorce mediation which would allow them to meet with a neutral professional trained…

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If I worked part time am I entitled to alimony?

Additional Information: My husband and I both worked full-time early in our marriage–both professionals with careers. Once our child was born he refused to help with transport of our child to/from daycare (citing he could no longer take the express train) so I was left on my own. After 9 months of handling 90% of…

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We are getting divorced and selling our Watertown home.

Additional Information: My husband and I have decided to get divorced and to sell our Watertown home. Recently he became angry and threatening so I moved to my brothers. My husband is living in the house and will not leave. I will be paying the mortgage alone and want to know if there is any…

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How do I tell my wife I want to divorce?

Additional Information: I want to do the right thing for my children and wife. She will be totally caught off guard by my request. What should I do to prepare for the day I tell her this? ANSWER: I don’t know if you have been in therapy at all, but telling your wife how you…

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Does child support continue if daughter is pregnant and not in school?

Additional  Information: Do I have to pay child support in Massachusetts if my 19 year old daughter is pregnant and working and not a full time student? I have a current order to pay weekly support. ANSWER: You may want to consider, in addition to getting legal advice from an attorney, the option of post…

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Alimony and child support reduced during unemployment?

Additional Information: I recently got laid off and struggling to make ends meet while keeping my ex-wife and kids on health insurance through COBRA, child support and alimony, and my own expenses.  How does MA courts view these circumstances?  Can the court ordered support be modified while I am temporarily unemployed? ANSWER: What happens to…

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MA Laws regarding grandparent visitation?

Additional Information: We are getting divorced after an 8 year marriage. We have 3 young children and haven’t figured out the children’s schedule and both sets of grandparents want to see the kids too. I’ve heard some states have laws in regards to grandparents rights.  What are the laws, if any, in MA regarding grandparent…

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Getting divorced. I am getting divorced. Am I obligated to keep my ex on my health insurance?

Additional Information: I am providing health care for my children aswell. She works and has for a few years. Her job offers health insurance. What if one of us were to remarry? ANSWER: Usually couples want to make every effort to minimize additional costs at the time of separation and divorce. Adding an additional individual…

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Can I get a divorce and move out of state (MA) if I’m pregnant?

Additional Information: My husband and I are getting divorced.  We currently live in Massachusetts but I am from Illinois and would move back to live near my family, especially for support when the baby is born. ANSWER: You may want to consider divorce mediation as a way to communicate and discuss with your husband all…

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I need a Qualified Domestic Relations order.

Additional Information: Do I need a lawyer to draw it up?  Husband is 64 but he was married to another woman while he was a Teamster. To collect his pension he has to pay her half according to his divorce agreement. The Teamsters say they need a Qualified Domestic Relations Order. ANSWER: I would suggest…

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Have a job offer but it is a reduction in pay, will I get modification to alimony?

Additional Information: I have been ordered to provide alimony to my wife, and I’ve been doing that for some months now. I have a new management job offer in Brazil where I’m originally from, and I want to really take it. Problem is when converting my pay back to US dollars, it reduces my pay…

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Divorce agreement doesn’t say anything about college tuition.

Additional Information: I got a divorce 8 years ago in New Hampshire and my ex-wife moved the children to Massachusetts 4 years ago. There is nothing in the divorce decree about having to pay for college.  I can only afford in state tuition. My ex wife refuses to have me involved in the college planning…

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Divorce and division of property without going through courts?

Additional Information: We live in Massachusetts. I’ve been married for nearly 21 years. We have a house and lots of “stuff”. My wife wants a quick divorce and wants to work out division of property without courts. Our youngest child will be 18 in a couple months. It sounds like it may work if you’ve…

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My husband and I are divorcing but I am overwhelmed and in a dire financial position.

Additional Information: My husband and I have recently separated. He is from a wealthy family and already has his lawyer in place. We have a 2 year old daughter together. I am trying to file for a legal separation, as well as set up some sort of custody arrangement for our child. I am in…

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My ex has declared bankruptcy. Will he still be required to pay back money I lent him?

Additional Information: My divorce agreement states husband must pay back $80,000 I lent him to pay taxes.  Can I still get it now that he has filed bankruptcy Chapter 13? He has not paid me for more than two years. He was supposed to pay me $1700 a month. Now he has filed bankrupcy. Can…

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Ex-husband doesn’t want to hold to our divorce agreement, daughter’s emancipation age is 23.

Additional Information: My daughter attends  a college in the Boston Metrowest area, but  she doesn’t drive.  I take her 90% of the time both ways as she has a learning disability and panic attacks. She can’t work during college due to the case load of the program. Her father & I were told during orientation…

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Years after a divorce, can you petition for joint custody?

Additional Information: My ex-wife and I got divorced ten years ago and I got sole custody of our now 15 year-old son.  She hasn’t seen him much over all these years and recently she’s been making an effort to get to know him.  My question is can she petition for joint custody now?  We live…

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Can a divorce mediator help us create a post nuptial agreement?

Additional Information: My husband and I have been married for almost 2 years. We unfortunately did not sign a prenuptial agreement.  We are working on our marriage and I’ve heard about post-nuptial agreements. Besides figuring who would get our Needham home, and division of other assets if we end up getting divorced, can we put…

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We are going to separate or divorce. How are assets split?

Additional Information: We are in our 50’s and are going to separate or divorce.  My wife works and makes approx $27K per year. I am currently collecting unemployment 4-6 months remaining at about $650/week.   Also, would she be entitled to half of my unemployment?  What happens if I get a job after the divorce…

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We can’t agree to who gets what property when we divorce.

Additional Information: My husband and I are divorcing.  He offered to buy our real estate in Dedham, MA for less than the appraisal amount but refuses to buy our vacation property in Florida for the appraisal amount.  I want the property in Dedham and not Florida.  What are my options? ANSWER: The issue of how…

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We’ve been separated for 4 years, when we divorce, wilI I be entitled to portion of the home?

Additional Information: My husband owned a home in his own name before we were married.  We are now divorcing.  Am I entitled to a portion of the home’s worth?  We’ve been married for a little over 10 years but have lived apart for 4 years. I was the one who left. He also made a…

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We are divorcing, if I move out, will I be entitled to part of our home?

Additional Information: My wife just ask me to move. I have no problem as I have a place to go. However, with me agreeing to her request, will this hurt me in the eyes of the court? Will the judge look at it and say “Well you moved out, you’re not entitled to the house…

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Does my husband have a right to a percentage of future inheritance from my mother?

Additional Information: I am in the process of getting a divorce. In his divorce proposal, my husband is asking for a percentage of a future inheritance I may get from my mother. My mother is still alive and well and I hope will be for quite awhile. Does he have a right to such a…

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Does a soon to be ex-wife have rights to a future inheritance in a divorce?

Additional Information: My wife and I have been married for 19 years and have 2 kids. We live in the Boston metrowest area and are going to get divorced.  She is after my future inheritance from my mother who lives overseas.  I am the sole beneficiary but nobody knows how much the inheritance will actually…

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Can my wife legally keep me from seeing my children while a divorce is in progress?

Additional Information: My wife recently filed for divorce. We had been separated for about a year beforehand. About 2 weeks before she filed I was unable to reach her or my 2 children.  I used to call the kids every 2-3 days and visit at our home in Dover every 2 weeks or so.  I…

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Can a signed separation agreement be modified without going to court?

Additional Information: I have a separation agreement that was signed in July 2011 by both parties. We didn’t have a hearing yet, and the agreement didn’t go through the court. I want to update it based on the new alimony law. The other party wants to keep it as is. The other party’s lawyer is…

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Can my ex just show up at our children’s sports games with disregard to our parenting schedule?

Additional Information: My ex and I have been divorced for 4 years.  He wants to be there for the kids without regard to our schedule. He unexpectedly showed up at Brookline High last week to cheer on our daughter and her basketball team, and as I wasn’t expecting him it caused a lot of tension…

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Can I use mediation for a divorce modification seeking sole custody?

Additional Information: We have been divorced since 2008 with shared custody.  My ex-husband was supposed to see our son every other weekend and he saw him the first few times then hasn’t seen him since. I just found out he moved to the west coast (we live in Newton, MA).  Since he moved and hasn’t…

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A Divorce Expo?

By Tracy Fischer This weekend, for the first time ever, a divorce expo is being held in Manhattan and the week before in Michigan.  Modeled after the very popular Bridal Expo these events will combine exhibitors like divorce lawyers, mediators, therapists, collaborative law specialists with make up specialists, life and dating coach’s.  One has the…

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In the state of MA how do I prove common household?

Additional Information: I’m paying alimony but my ex wife has had her boyfriend living with her in Danvers  for a year now.  How do I prove they are a common household? ANSWER: I am assuming that you are inquiring how to modify or stop your alimony payments to your ex-wife given the the new alimony…

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How hard is it to get a divorce in MA due to adultery?

Additional Information: I just found out my husband has been cheating on me.  He denies it but I am certain of it.  How hard is it to get a divorce in MA due to adultery? ANSWER: Adultery is often a symptom of a marriage that may not have been working to begin with.  Although it…

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How long do I have to respond to a proposed Divorce Agreement?

Additional Information: My wife and I are getting a divorce.  Her lawyer sent me the proposed Divorce Agreement. How long do I have to respond?  Is there any limit of days?  What can I do if I do not agree to this proposal? ANSWER: You may want to consider using divorce mediation  to come to…

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What do I do if I cannot afford an attorney?

Additional Information: My husband and I would like to get divorced.  We live in the expensive Greater Boston area.  What do I do if I cannot afford an attorney? ANSWER: Area lawyers charge a variety of fees. Retainers are required when the attorney feels the divorce will clearly involve court hearings. If you feel your…

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My ex comes to my house for his parenting time with our daughter.

Additional Information: My ex-husband and I still jointly own our home in Dedham where my daughter and I live. He frequently comes to spend his parenting time in my house with our daughter. Our daughter is special needs and we both agreed that I would be a full time stay at home mother in the…

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Can I move with my kids before our divorce is finalized?

Additional Information: My husband and I are getting divorced. Can I move with our kids into my mother’s home in Westwood and enroll them in school there before we complete our divorce mediation? ANSWER: The most important question here is – does your husband – the children’s father – agree with your decision to move…

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My teenage daughter doesn’t want to spend her weekends visiting her dad anymore.

Additional Information: I have been divorced for 8 years. My 16 year-old daughter lives with me in Danvers and doesn’t want to visit her dad 2 hrs away every other weekend.  She hates giving up her sports and social life every other weekend.  Her dad gets very angry when she asks to compromise, and just…

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I’d like to plan future mediation sessions after divorce.

Additional Information: My husband and I are getting divorced and have agreed to try mediation.  We have 3 young children, oldest is 8 years old.  The kids are all handling the news of the divorce differently and we know that they’ll adjust and also that their needs will change as they get older.   Before we…

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Should I consult with a divorce attorney before we begin mediation?

Additional Information: My husband and I are getting divorced and have agreed to go through mediation. We are on good terms and are basically going to split everything 50:50.  I already have a local Marblehead divorce attorney who will review the final mediation agreement but wondering if I should consult with one before we start…

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Can I ask for child support and my husband to move out without an actual divorce?

Additional Information: My husband and I have decided to separate and will likely get divorced.  What do we do in the meantime in regard to finances and parenting?  I am a stay at home mom in Wellesley so I don’t have my own income. ANSWER: You may want to consider divorce/family mediation which would allow…

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My ex says he won’t pay for our last son’s college tuition.

Additional Information: I thought that our separation agreement was clear, and he paid tuition for our oldest two children to attend well-regarded Boston area colleges. Am I missing something? ANSWER: As the cost of college has become such a huge cost, many parents are having difficulty paying for college. Given that you already have had…

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Can you please explain the law in regard to divorce and dividing assets?

Additional Information: My husband and I are divorcing after a 6.5 year marriage.  We have 4 young children under age of 6. I am currently on an unpaid maternity leave from my job as a teacher. My husband owns his own periodontist businesses. My name is not on his business. We also own 2 condo’s…

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Massachusetts Probate Courts Underfunded and Overworked

By Tracy Fischer The Massachusetts Bar Association has produced a video to highlight the results of underfunding of the Probate Courts.  In this video Judges, professors and court officers discuss the difficulties in administering justice when the resources they had depended on are no longer there.  It is clear from these interviews that hearings and…

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I’m afraid I won’t have enough money to hire a divorce attorney

Additional Information: My husband and are are getting divorced.  We have about 40k in our joint savings account, but if he takes half or more, that doesn’t leave me enough for a lawyer does it? ANSWER: You may want to consider divorce mediation.  If you and your husband feel that you are able to sit…

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My wife and I are not yet divorced, can I take our son out of the country for vacation?

Additional Information: My wife and I are going to get divorced, but we are not legally separated yet.   Can I still take my son on vacation out of the country?  My ex doesn’t want me to take him to a vacation to Brazil, she thinks I will keep him over there.  My mom and dad…

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Is it better to have an aggressive divorce attorney or a collaborative one?

Additional Information: I’ve heard about collaborative divorce attorneys in the Boston area.  What exactly is a collaborative divorce attorney? Which is the best use of our money for our divorce? ANSWER: Technically when an attorney is acting as a “collaborative” attorney, the hope and intention is that the other party will also engage a collaborative…

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Going through a divorce with financial matters now my lawyer isn’t returning my calls.

Additional Information: I work part time as software engineer in Needham, my husband works full time same type of position but he works for a big company in Boston and makes four times what I make. I make $80k, he makes $300k.  We have two young children and have been married 6 years in MA,…

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My wife and I are divorced, but now I can’t get a loan for my own home.

Additional Information: I’m recently divorced and my ex-wife can’t refinance our house, so now I can’t get a loan to purchase my own house.  What can I do? ANSWER: This type of scenario is becoming more and more common given the stricter financing requirements.  This would be a very good situation for mediation. If your…

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My husband and I are separated and I’m left with no health insurance.

Additional Information: I was in the process of being added to my husband’s health insurance when we separated. He then canceled the process and left me without insurance. In Massachusetts everyone is required to have health insurance coverage.  We have not yet filed for divorce but we no longer live together.  What can I do…

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Massachusetts Council of Family Mediation Annual Conference

By Tracy Fischer A divorcing couple can work with a neutral mediator and take control of the process in a more timely manner than going through the court system. I recently attended the Massachusetts Council of Family Mediation’s Annual conference and was able to hear news from the Probate Court by Keynote Speaker Paula Carey,…

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Divorce settlement wasn’t fair, I’d like to reduce my Child Support Payment.

Additional Information: I’d like to take my ex-wife back to court, in hopes of  lowering my Child Support Payment. I pay over 2K a month, but here is the catch, I have the kids 50% of the time per the agreement. I also pay for their cell phones and insurance, and half of everything else…

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Is a prenup legally binding in MA? A lot has changed and we’re now divorcing.

Additional Information: I signed a prenuptial agreement before getting married to my husband.  This was years ago and now we have a house in Weston, four children and are going through a divorce.   Is the prenup legally binding in MA or can we modify it now as we go through mediation?  He had a successful…

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What’s the best way to handle financial matters in a divorce mediation?

Additional Information: We’re going through divorce mediation.  What’s the best way to handle the financial matters?  My husband moved out of our Peabody home about a year and half ago.  We’re on good terms and share custody of our 2 children.  He currently pays for extracurricular activities for our 2 children and I’d like to…

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Divorce and visitation schedule for extended family members?

Additional Information: My husband and I are getting divorced.  We are divorcing amicably and have decided together that the children will live with me and see their dad every other weekend and Wednesday nights.  Will a mediator help us figure out a visitation schedule for grandparents and aunts/uncles who will want to see the kids? …

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I’d like to go through divorce mediation, my wife wants to hire attorneys.

Additional Information: I have just told my wife that we should divorce. I would like to go through mediation to resolve as many issues as possible but she insists she wants an attorney. During the course of our 5 year marriage she was the bread winner and only at the beginning of this year did…

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Will our divorce mediator help us with financial issues?

Additional Information: I’ve always been a stay at home mom in Needham to our 3 kids.  My husband and I are divorcing and he recently said that he’d like me to go back to work to help support the kids and with expenses.  I just don’t know how this will all work out.  That would…

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I have a question about the division of assets in a divorce.

Additional Information: When my husband and I got married, instead of a having a lavish wedding, my parents gave me the down payment on a house we bought together in Needham.  It was about $100K.  I am now in the early stages of filing for a divorce, will my husband get half of this asset?…

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Will I be able to keep sole ownership of ski condo after divorce mediation?

Additional Information: My wife and I are getting divorced and we have our first mediation session next week.  We’ve been married for 3 years and we rent our place in Danvers. I purchased a ski condo in NH while we were dating, the place is in my name only.  Throughout our short marriage she did…

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Can mediation work if my husband is very powerful?

Additional Information: My spouse is very powerful and influential, he is the CEO of a Fortune 500  Boston based company.   I, on the other hand, am the opposite, I’m shy and don’t often speak up for myself.  With our personalities, I’m worried I won’t get a fair mediation settlement.  Do I have any hope that…

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Can divorce mediation work for us?

Additional Information: My husband and I are getting divorced and we’re considering working with a Boston divorce mediator.  He’s all for it as it’ll be less expensive than us both hiring attorneys, but I’m not so sure.  Is it appropriate to go through divorce mediation if my husband has physically threatened me? ANSWER: If you…

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