New Massachusetts Alimony Law

By Tracy Fischer October 2011 – read the entire Alimony Reform Act (PDF) The Massachusetts Alimony Reform Act of 2011 was just passed into law amending Massachusetts  General Law chapter 208 section 34, adding section 48, clarifying the nature and duration of alimony.  The law will become effective in March of 2012 First, four different…

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How long does divorce mediation take and what do we do regarding parenting schedule in the meantime?

Additional Information: My husband and I are getting divorced and have both agreed to go through divorce mediation.  It seems that’s the only thing we can agree on.  He already has his own apartment in Peabody, but we can’t agree on how many nights our children can stay over with him.  I think they should…

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My husband cannot agree to a mediator.

Additional Information: The Dedham court has required that we go to mediation to agree upon a parenting plan and division of assets. My husband refuses to agree to a mediator. Its been four months now! What can I do? ANSWER: Assuming the mediation requirement was an order in an ongoing court action, your husband’s delay…

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Is long distance divorce mediation possible?

Additional Information: Is mediation possible when one of the parties resides outside of the Boston area, or even outside of Massachusetts? ANSWER: It is possible though more difficult. If one party is out of Massachusetts it would be preferable that at least some of the meetings take place in person and some meetings could be…

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In divorce mediation, do we always meet together or can we meet separately with the mediator?

ANSWER: Most often, couples meet together with the mediator. A technique called “caucusing” may be used by a mediator in order to have private conversations with each spouse – in conjunction with meeting together. It would be used for a limited duration- with the main portion of the mediation involving the couple meeting together. This…

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Can a lawyer hired by one spouse then become the mediator?

Additional Information: Is it possible for the lawyer I hired in Marblehead to handle our divorce, to then become the lawyer to handle our mediated divorce? ANSWER: A mediator is bound by ethical considerations to have not had a prior relationship with one party to the mediation. Any mediator who is a member of the…

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Can one party make legal changes to the signed mediation agreement?

Additional Information: Can he legally make changes to the signed mediation agreement? We settled all the issues, we both signed the papers, along with our attorneys in Gloucester.  Now he said he has contacted his lawyer to make changes to the agreement. Can he do that? ANSWER: Once a mediated or negotiated Separation or Divorce…

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Are children or supportive friends permitted to attend mediation sessions?

Additional Information: May a child who is the subject of mediation attend the mediation session?  Furthermore, are other supportive friends or family members permitted to attend? ANSWER: Depending of the circumstances, if both parents and the mediator agree, a child may attend and be a part of a mediation session.  It is crucial for the…

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Can mediation assist divorced parents address changing circumstances?

ANSWER: As quickly as one to two years after a divorce, often issues related to the children may arise.  As children get older, parenting plans may need to be revised, schools may need to be changed or college decisions need to be made.  Mediation can provide a safe, secure and comfortable forum for parents to…

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In Massachusetts, are our mediation conversations protected?

Additional Information: May parties involved in the mediation process in Massachusetts be required to sign a confidentiality pledge or agreement prior to the commencement of the process? ANSWER: Often a Mediation and Fee agreement is signed by both spouses and the mediator at the outset of the mediation process.  The agreement outlines the role of…

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How do I prepare for a custody mediation session?

ANSWER: The first thing to think about and remember is “what is in the best interest of the children?”, not necessarily what may be in the best interest of either parent.  The negative effect of divorce on children is directly related to the level of conflict among their parents, so a parenting plan that both…

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How do I know if divorce mediation is right for me?

ANSWER: Divorce mediation can be helpful to most couples who want to preserve their relationship as parents even though they may no longer have a relationship as husband and wife.  As long as both spouses feel confident that all income,  assets and debts will be fully disclosed to one another, mediation can be a viable…

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Can the provisions of a divorce be changed after finalization?

Additional Information: I had a divorce attorney in Wellesley represent me three years ago in my divorce. Many things have changed since then and I’m thinking instead of going back to the divorce lawyer in Wellesley, it may be best for me to use a divorce mediator. ANSWER: Once a judgment of divorce has become…

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We are getting divorced and I want to keep the house in Wellesley.

Additional information: When I got married, I moved into my wife’s house. We are now getting divorced and I want to keep the house in Wellesley. Do I have any rights to it? ANSWER: The answer to your question depends on various factors. How long have you been married? Have you contributed to the costs of the…

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How do I know if a mediator will be fair to me?

ANSWER: Mediator neutrality is one of the most crucial qualities of a good mediator.  Mediators are trained to understand and deal with any biases they may have without letting it interfere with the process of the mediation.  Couples should select a mediator based on clear criteria: education, training, years of practice, professional background, membership in…

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Is mediation legally binding? What can I do if I don’t like the way the mediation is going?

ANSWER: The agreement that is produced as a result of mediation is only legally binding after it has been signed.  The discussions and conversations that couples have during mediation are actually confidential and cannot be disclosed by the mediator.  The purpose of the confidential nature of mediation is for couples to feel free to communicate…

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How creative can couples be in dividing the assets of their marriage?

ANSWER: Couples CAN BE creative in mediation in terms of dividing assets. However, the agreement must be “fair and reasonable”, taking into account each couple’s specific situation. Some of the factors that a court must consider when making a division include ages, future employment potentials, abilities to acquire income and assets in the future and…

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Do couples need to exchange financial information about their changing finances while their children are growing up?

ANSWER: Couples are given the option of including in their Agreements, provisions that deal with changing future finances and give them the ability to modify the child support amount when changes occur. These provisions usually call for a periodic exchange of financial information such as tax returns and W-2 forms.

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What happens if the incomes of parents go up or down during the time they are supporting their children?

ANSWER: All child support orders are modifiable based upon a material change in circumstance. Mediated agreements often provide the couple with the ability to review and modify their support order in the event of a significant change in financial circumstances, and may do so without resorting to the adversarial process.

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Massachusetts Post-Nuptial Agreements

By Tracy Fischer The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts found that post-nuptial agreements entered into under specific conditions would be enforceable. Post-nuptial agreements are made by couples contemplating divorce but still trying to work on their marriage and not yet ready to commit to divorce. They are able, through this type of agreement, to decide…

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The Use of An Attorney in Mediation

Many clients ask me if attorneys are necessary during the divorce mediation process. I’ve prepared the following video discussing the use of an attorney during the divorce mediation process. Attorney Tracy Fischer is a  certified Massachusetts family mediator by the Massachusetts Council on Family Mediation (MCFM). She has offices in Danvers and Newton, Massachusetts. She…

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Questions About The Divorce Mediation Process

I’m often asked about the process of divorce mediation and how a couple might get started with mediation. I’ve prepared the following video to help answer some of the most common questions couples ask when considering the mediation process. Attorney Tracy Fischer is a  certified Massachusetts family mediator by the Massachusetts Council on Family Mediation…

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Changes in Massachusetts Alimony Rulings

By Tracy Fischer What This Means For You The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has made a controversial ruling recently regarding alimony payments. They decided that alimony payments do not automatically end when the paying spouse reaches the age of retirement. In the recent case the spouse who had been paying alimony, voluntarily retired at the…

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Newton, MA Divorce Lawyer & Divorce Mediator

Newton, MA divorce lawyer and divorce mediator, Attorney Tracy Fischer is a  Boston metro family and divorce mediator with offices in Newton, Massachusetts. She provides mediation and family law services to individuals and families throughout the Boston Metro West region including Newton, Needham, Waltham, Watertown,  Wayland, Wellesley, and Weston Massachusetts. Attorney Tracy Fischer assists couples…

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Danvers, MA Divorce Lawyer & Divorce Mediator

Danvers, MA divorce lawyer and divorce mediator, Attorney Tracy Fischer assists couples in the Boston metro region who are seeking an alternative dispute resolution. Avoiding costly divorce lawyers, litigation and court fees, divorce mediation, when managed by an experienced divorce mediator, can be less costly, less stressful and more timely then bringing your divorce to…

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