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Boston Family Law Blog

Immigration And Marriage: What Happens If You Marry Or Divorce A Foreign Spouse?

Hollywood movies have made it conventional wisdom that one way to speed through the red tape of immigration is to marry. This is true. Often, the marriage is one that is genuinely based on love and affection. Other times, not so much:

5 Reasons Why Alimony Should Be Reduced or Terminated if You're Living With Someone

alimony.jpg1. If you are living with someone else, your financial need has likely been reduced or eliminated, thereby reducing or eliminating your need for spousal support.

Divorce Hits Children In Higher-Income Families The Hardest, Study Says

rich kids.pngAs the divorce rate began to rise in the 1960s and level off in the early 1980s, the face of American families underwent major reconstruction, leaving individuals and psychologists alike wondering: How are the children faring?

Divorce for $999.00

Online Divorce Mediation.Com™ (ODM) was created by an experienced family law attorney who was tired of seeing families torn apart, both emotionally and financially, by the contested and insanely expensive divorce process.  His goal was to make getting a divorce more dignified, yet do so in a quick, simple, and inexpensive manner. At the same time he wanted to focus on preventing a permanent wedge from developing between spouses to the detriment of their children, which frequently occurs in a contested divorce setting. ODM's fresh approach to divorce and innovative style mixed with state of the art technology will assist in preserving and enhancing your family unit, with an emphasis on the best interests and needs of your children.  All of ODM's mediators are certified in divorce mediation and are highly skilled and thorough divorce attorneys who are able to negotiate family law matters including divorce, paternity, child support, child custody, alimony, the division of assets and liabilities and other family related matters in usually ten (10) hours or less for a cost of $ 999 per spouse, which includes three (3) hours of mediation time with the parties, plus the time it takes to prepare a comprehensive divorce agreement, a petition for divorce filing, and the parties' respective financial statements.

The pricier the ring, the likelier the divorce

Diamonds are forever, according to the song, but a marriage that starts with a lavish ceremony and expensive engagement ring is less likely to succeed.

The Legal Status of Parent Coordinators in Massachusetts

          Parent Coordinators are commonly used in child custody and parenting matters in Massachusetts to facilitate resolving disputes between parents on issues relating children of divorce and children born out of wedlock.  The Parent Coordinator typically acts as a referee to rule on any disputes, or works more like a mediator to help the parents negotiate and resolve any dispute.  Using Parent Coordinators can be an effective tool in assisting parents in avoiding lengthy litigation in the Probate and Family Court to resolve custody and parenting disputes.
          On September 15, 2014, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled on a case of first impression relating to Parent Coordinators, in the case of Bower v. Bournay-Bower.  The issues at hand were whether the Probate and Family Court has authority to appoint a Parent Coordinator over the objection of one parent, and also whether the decision of the Parent Coordinator be binding upon the parents. 
          The Supreme Judicial Court acknowledged that Parent Coordinators play an important role in resolving disputes between parents.  The SJC further stated that the Probate and Family Court can recommend or refer a Parent Coordinator in a specific case, but the authority of the Probate and Family Court is not limitless.  By mandating that a Parent Coordinator be appointed to a case, the SJC held that such an appointment undermines due process and the rights of parent to seek relief through the courts and also obtain judicial review. 
          However, in no way does the SJC mean to discount the important role Parent Coordinators play in a custody or other child-related matter.  The Court acknowledges that parties can by agreement engage a Parent Coordinator, and define the scope of the Parent Coordinator’s role, including binding the parties to any decisions made by the Parent Coordinator. Because of this importance, the SJC referred the issue of Parent Coordinators to the Probate and Family Court to review whether rules regarding Parent Coordinators should be promulgated.
          Ultimately, the use of a Parent Coordinator, after Bower v. Bournay-Bower is still permissible; however, the appointment of a Parent Coordinator by the Probate and Family Court when one or both parents object to such an appointment is not permissible.  Now it we will just have to wait and see what, if any, rules the Probate and Family Court promulgates regarding Parent Coordinators.

How Women Can Keep From Making Themselves Victims in Divorce

Sep 4, 2014, 9:22 AM ET
By LAURA MATTIA, Baron Financial Group
Financially Empowering Women
Too many women undergoing divorce don't think enough about their long-term financial stability.
All too often, women getting divorced become financial victims. Many get settlements that are fair or, in some cases, more than fair. But because they have misguided priorities, they may make choices that aren’t in their best interest, ultimately rendering themselves victims. The sad reality is that they are responsible for this unfortunate fate.
For some women, victim status is assured by the way they relate to their husbands concerning money during their marriages. When they get divorced, the choices they make amid this emotional turmoil may stem from this marital dynamic in ways that make their situations worse. By contrast, women who are financially empowered are more likely to make choices in their best interest.
If women are to emerge from divorce in a financial situation that works for them in the long run, many need to begin thinking in a new way. Just thinking straight is difficult when undergoing this emotionally wrenching process. Thinking about money in a new way is especially difficult.
Critical to this new mindset is the importance of looking out for yourself – not just regarding the division of marital assets, but also regarding your long-term financial security. Many women who have been financially dependent on their husbands in marriage make the mistake of continuing this dependence after divorce by focusing too much on alimony. There’s nothing inherently wrong with getting alimony, especially if you’ve foregone career opportunities to stay home with the children, enabling him to advance his career. However, obsessing over alimony to the exclusion of self-reliance can be an error with serious consequences.
You may not get all of this money; some ex-husbands disappear to avoid their alimony (and child-support) obligations or they just don’t pay, and it can be extremely difficult to get them to make up missed payments. They could become disabled, unable to work, or they might die. Many women think they have this covered by life insurance, but what if, to give an extreme example, he commits suicide? Then the insurance company may not pay.
Also, in many states where alimony is common, divorce agreements typically limit the total amount and duration of alimony payments. What will you do when the payments end?
A more fundamental problem with obsessing over alimony is it’s a distraction from what should be your real focus: earning a living. If you can get alimony, fine. But instead of getting as much alimony, perhaps you can secure a provision in your divorce agreement to receive money for tuition for more education or skills training to increase your value on the job market.
If you’re working already, of course, there’s not as much need for alimony, though you’ll probably need to make more money. Consider the old adage about learning to fish versus receiving a fish. If you’re in your 30s, 40s, or 50s when you get divorced, becoming equipped to get a job or increase your existing income can make a significant long-term difference.
Failing to realize the importance of true independence, some women undergoing settlement negotiations don’t like to talk about increasing their incomes -- or, if they don’t have a job, about getting one -- because they believe they’ll get a better deal in their agreement if they appear helpless (victims). They should be aware that because they’re not focusing on their own earning potential, their fixation on alimony could cost them dearly.
Regardless of their post-divorce earnings picture, many women make self-defeating decisions regarding their property settlements. A prime example of this is the common fixation on trying to get the house. They think of how their children used the swing set in the backyard, and irrationally connect motherhood with getting the house. Emotionally tied to their homes, they don’t consider a host of important financial factors.
When a couple divorces, one household becomes two. This is expensive. Critical questions include:
  • Can you and your husband afford notto sell the house? Do you have enough other assets that one partner can be fairly compensated for the equity in the home? This assumes that there is substantial equity which, given the prevalence of outsized mortgages, often isn’t the case.
  • Assuming that there are enough other assets, can you afford to own the house – not just initially, but down the road? Will your post-divorce income be enough to pay the mortgage each month?
  • Can you afford the upkeep costs – energy bills, repairs, renovations, yard maintenance among them – that would be far lower with a smaller, less expensive home or a townhouse or condominium?
Typically, women are advised on such matters by divorce attorneys who, instead of looking at long-term financial-planning impacts, simplistically view property settlements as a snapshot of present-day value. As a result, many women fail to realize that getting the house might imperil their ultimate security because the financial burden of the house may severely limit their ability to set aside money for retirement. Depending on their age at the time of divorce, retirement may be the last thing on their minds.
Instead of getting the house, perhaps it would be better to get a fair share of the liquid assets (which may include money from the sale of the house), plus money for job-training or additional education.
The goal of post-divorce life should be financial independence and self-reliance. Finding a man with money after divorce isn’t independence; it’s dependence. As is the case when you’re married, a man is not the answer to your financial situation.
Often, the die is cast for becoming a financial victim of divorce during the marriage. The way to avert this fate is to claim your financial power and to use it to make beneficial decisions during – and, if you get divorced, after – your marriage. Claiming this power is an uphill battle when you’re divorcing, but it’s all the more necessary then.
Any opinions expressed here are solely those of the author.

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