Amaral & Associates, P.C. - Divorce, Family Law

Boston Family Law Blog


‘Happy Valentine’s Day. I Want a Divorce.’

Valentine’s Day is approaching — and it turns out the weeks leading up to this most romantic of holidays also mark the highpoint of “divorce season.”

While there’s no national database tracking divorce filings, anecdotally, attorneys report that January and February tend to be the busiest months of the year in terms of divorce inquiries.

Why? In large part it’s a holiday hangover. A recent poll by my divorce mediation company, showed that one in 12 people (and one in eight women!) are considering divorce during the holidays. And as soon as the holidays are over, many make it their New Year’s resolution to begin again and start divorce proceedings.

I’ve worked in family law for 12 years and without fail, my phone starts ringing off the hook on January 2nd. Most start by asking for the lay of the land — they want to know their options.

Unfortunately, most people still think of divorce as the 1980s War of the Roses scenario, where each party hires the meanest pitbull of a lawyer they can … Read More »



Massachusetts Alimony Reform Act: When Does my Alimony Obligation Terminate?

In March 2012, the Massachusetts Alimony Reform Act became effective. Under the Alimony Reform Act, a spouse’s alimony obligation now has a termination date, whereas under previously Massachusetts alimony law, a spouse’s alimony obligation could last forever.

To determine when your alimony obligation will terminate, you first must know what kind of alimony you are paying. There are four categories of alimony in Massachusetts: General Alimony, Rehabilitative Alimony, Reimbursement Alimony, and Transitional Alimony.

General Alimony

General Alimony is the most common type of alimony. Under this type of alimony, a spouse’s alimony obligation lasts for a percentage of the length of the marriage.

For marriages lasting 5 years or less, a spouse’s alimony obligation lasts 50% the number of months the parties were married. For marriages lasting more than 5 years, but less than 10 years, a spouse’s alimony obligation is 60% the number of months the parties were married. For marriages lasting more than 10 years, but less than 15 years, a spouse’s alimony obligation is 70% the number of months the … Read More »



Rehabilitative, Transitional, and Reimbursement  Alimony in Massachusetts

Q: What are Reimbursement Alimony, Rehabilitative Alimony, and Transitional Alimony?

A: There are 4 types of alimony under Massachusetts law. The four types are:

General Term Alimony Rehabilitative Alimony Reimbursement Alimony Transitional Alimony Rehabilitative Alimony Q: What is Rehabilitative Alimony?

A: By the statute’s definition, Rehabilitative Alimony for a recipient spouse who is expected to become economically self-sufficient by a predicted time, such as, without limitation, reemployment; completion of job training; or receipt of a sum due from the payor spouse under a judgment.

Q: When is a spouse eligible to receive Rehabilitative Alimony?

A: Rehabilitative Alimony is available to all spouses, regardless of how long they have been married.

Q: When Does Rehabilitative Alimony End?

A: Rehabilitative Alimony ends upon the first of the following to occur:

upon the remarriage of the recipient spouse, the occurrence of a specific event in the future that is outlined in the court order the death of either spouse; After 5 years. Q: Can Rehabilitative Alimony last longer than 5 years?

A: Yes, a spouse can file a complaint for modification upon a showing of compelling circumstances in the event that:

unforeseen events prevent the recipient spouse from being self-supporting at the end … Read More »



The Benefits of Mediating or Arbitrating Your Family Law Case

The Benefits of Mediating or Arbitrating Your Family Law CaseIn Massachusetts, divorce and Family Law cases are handled by the Probate and Family Court. Under Massachusetts, law, proceedings in the Probate and Family Court are public and can be observed by anyone. Additionally, almost all cases in the Probate and Family Court are scheduled to be heard at 8:30 a.m. (which can be as many as 75-100 cases scheduled to be heard that day), and then the judge calls all cases in whatever order he/she deems fit. This means, if your case is heard first, there can be over 100 people in the courtroom to listen to the issues pending in your case.

Additionally, the Probate and Family Court is notoriously backlogged. Thus, it can take a few months before a motion on your case is heard, and a few … Read More »



Having Your Voice Heard in a Divorce

Having Your Voice Heard in a DivorceDivorces can be a lengthy, complicated and emotionally charged process. With all of the procedural nuances of a divorce proceeding and procedural rules of the court, even after several court appearances, it is entirely possible that a spouse will not have had the opportunity to testify and tell his or her side of the story. Oftentimes, the first few court appearances just involve the parties’ attorneys arguing on their respective behalves and a judge making a ruling. It is not until much further into the process that a spouse has an opportunity to speak on own their behalf and tell their side of the story.

Having your voice heard in a divorce can be very therapeutic and cathartic. But all too often that can get swallowed up in the legal technicalities of a divorce. There is, however, an alternative to a long drawn-out divorce, where spouses can tell their side … Read More »



Divorce Mediation & Negotiation Rule One: Be Cordial

Divorce Mediation & Negotiation Rule One: Be Cordial Rule One: Be Cordial

(Provided by © National Legal Research Group, Inc.)

There is an old saying that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. By the time the parties are divorcing, the parties are pretty much used to dealing with each other by yelling and screaming. The lawyer should not posture in front of the client and should tell the client that he/she will not posture. Clients watch TV and need to be told that effective advocacy does not mean putting on a show for the client’s benefit.

This is not as simple as it sounds. Unfortunately, television has conditioned many clients that cordial conduct is not what to expect from a lawyer. Rather, the TV lawyer postures, threatens, intimidates and is rude. Then comes the commercial while the other side backs down.

It would be nice, but naive, to suggest that … Read More »



Pet “Custody” and Divorce

Pet “Custody” and DivorceIn all families, pets are just as an important member of the family as anyone else. Unfortunately, the law has not caught up with this view. Therefore, when spouses divorce, “custody” of a pet is not treated on the same level, legally speaking, as custody of child. In child custody matters, the legal standard is the “best interests of the child”. However, for pets, the law considers them property, and subject to property division under marital property laws.

When you think about how important a pet is to the family, thinking of them property is unbelievable. It seems like too much of a sterile and unemotional process, that when you are dividing the silverware and furniture, you have factor Fido into that division.

Although the law has not caught up with the popular mentality about pets, spouses are addressing pet “custody” in a more sensical manner in divorces. In cases involving children, the pets typically follow the children, as much … Read More »



Handling a Child Custody Case

Handling a Child Custody CaseThere are not many other types of court cases that are more emotional and stressful than a child custody case. Because emotions are running high during these types of cases, parents can sometimes fall into pitfalls and traps, which can ultimately hurt their case down the road. Here are some tips for parents going through child custody cases.

Talk to Your Children. Parents should NEVER actively involve children in any pending child custody litigation. These are more “adult” conversations for the parents, their attorneys and the court. However, if a child has questions or concerns about what the child custody case, parents should try to answer the child’s questions and address the child’s concerns. These conversations should be age appropriate conversations, and should not, in any, disparage the other parent. A child shouldn’t feel that they have to take sides through this process. Even though the children aren’t actively involved in the litigation, they will still know what is going on, and most likely will be stress because of it. … Read More »



Why You’re Never Too Young to Have an Estate Plan

Why You’re Never Too Young to Have an Estate PlanWhen people think of estate planning, they tend to think of middle-age or older people, who are more settled in life, and most likely have some assets to preserve, and children to care for. Although that may be the “typical” estate planning client, once a person attains the age of majority (i.e. age 18), he/she is really not too young to draft an estate plan.

To have an estate plan, you don’t have to be rich and have a lot of assets. You also do not have to be further on in life, nor do you need to have children that you need to plan for in the event of an untimely death.

An estate plan typically consists of multiple documents that plan for your incapacity (in the event of … Read More »



Child Support, Alimony & Taxes

Child Support, Alimony & TaxesWhen going through a divorce, there are many financial issues that spouses must address. Some of these financial issues have tax consequences, and other financial issues do not. One area where taxes come into play is support. Under Massachusetts Law, there are two categories of support.

The first category is alimony, which is the periodic payment of support by one spouse to another spouse for that other spouse’s support. Under the federal tax code, and Massachusetts tax law, the alimony paid by the payor spouse is tax deductible for the payor spouse, but taxable to the recipient spouse. That means that the alimony received by the recipient spouse is considered income, and it must be reported on that spouse’s tax returns.

The other category of support is child support, which is support paid by one spouse to another spouse for the support of the child(ren) of the marriage. Unlike alimony, child support is not tax deductible for the payor spouse, or … Read More »



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