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Boston Family Law Blog


Six Tips On How to Minimize Your Attorney’s Fees in a Divorce or Family Law Case

saveWhen you are going through a divorce or family law matter, it can cost a lot of money to hire an attorney. However, if you want to successfully navigate through the Probate and Family Court and the litigation process, having a lawyer can be crucial. There are ways, however, to minimize your legal fees from your attorney and achieve your goals. Here are six tips.

• 1. Understand what your attorney will charge for. Under Massachusetts ethical rules for attorneys, your attorney is required to sign a fee agreement with you outlining the scope of the work to be performed by the attorney on your behalf. Within the fee agreement, there will be an outline of what work the attorney will perform, and what you will be charged for. This typically includes all work that the attorney must do on your behalf, not just going to court. So this can include, but not be limited to, emails between you and your lawyer, phone calls between you and your lawyer, written correspondence with opposing counsel … Read More »



Protecting Your Assets in a Dating Relationship Through a Cohabitation Agreement

cohabOnce a couple marries, there are certain protections and rights bestowed upon each spouse under the law. These rights include the right to property division in the event of divorce, the right to maintain medical insurance benefits through his/her spouse, and the right to alimony in the event of a divorce.

However, with the divorce rate close to 60% today, there are many people in committed relationships who choose not to get married. In these situations, the couple is not given the same protections and rights as a married couple. When the relationship is going well, this may not be important to a couple, but as the relationship begins to deteriorate, having these same rights and protections can be very important.

One way unmarried couples can guarantee themselves similar rights and protections afforded to married couples is through a Cohabitation Agreement. Like a Prenuptial Agreement, a cohabitation agreement affords certain rights and responsibilities to each person during the relationship, such as who will pay what living expenses, and who will retain the house or apartment (or any other assets) in the event of a breakup. Having such an agreement can avoid legal … Read More »



Going Through a Divorce When You Have a Child with Special Needs

specialDivorce is a difficult and emotion process for any spouse or parent. But when the spouse is also a parent of a child with special needs, the divorce can be even more emotional and difficult.

In dealing with any divorce that involves children, issues such as child custody, parenting time, and child support must be addressed. However, when there is a child with special needs, this can be even more complex to handle.

The legal standard for child custody and parenting time is the “best interests of the child”. This is an intentionally vague legal standard, because there are so many different factors that apply to this standard, and they are all unique to each family. When applying this standard to a child with special needs, some of the things that need to be considered are: 1) the child’s diagnosis; 2) the child’s ongoing medical needs; 3) where the child requires extensive hospitalization or repeating medical appointments; 4) what medications does the child require, and do they have to be administered in a special way; and 5) is … Read More »



Am I Going to Have to Pay Alimony?

alimonyWith the enactment and implementation of the Alimony Reform Act in 2012, a popular topic among divorcing spouses is whether one spouse will be required to pay the other spouse alimony. With the Alimony Reform Act, the guidelines and requirements for awarding alimony have changed. At the cornerstone of alimony is case law that has been on the books for at least 40 years, in which alimony is awarded where there is financial need for the recipient spouse, and the payor spouse has an ability to pay the support. This case law has not been changed by the Alimony Reform Act.

The Alimony Reform Act, rather, has clarified when alimony is appropriate, and how long an alimony order can last. Under M.G.L. c. 208 §53, the factors to be considered in awarding alimony are:

a court shall consider: the length of the marriage; age of the parties; health of the parties; income, employment and employability of both parties, including employability through reasonable diligence and additional training, if necessary; economic and non-economic contribution of both parties to the marriage; marital lifestyle; ability of each party to maintain the marital lifestyle; lost economic opportunity … Read More »



Winning the Lottery and Then Getting Divorced

lottery articleThe odds of any person winning the lottery are very slim. However, if someone does win the lottery, and he/she is married at that time, under Massachusetts law, the lottery winnings are a marital asset. Under Massachusetts law, all property owned by one spouse individually, or both spouses jointly, is considered marital property. That means, if after winning the lottery, the spouses then divorce, the lottery winnings are part of the marital estate to be divided in the divorce; there is no presumption that the spouse who won the lottery gets to keep all of winnings.

If the spouse who won the lottery wants to protect these winnings from being divided in a divorce, then the spouses can negotiate and enter into a Postnuptial Agreement. A Postnuptial Agreement is like a Prenuptial Agreement, but it is drafted and signed after spouses marry. In such an agreement, the parties can to agree to include or exclude certain assets in the marital estate in the event of a divorce or separation. In Massachusetts, Postnuptial Agreements are considered legally binding and valid as long as the agreement is fair and reasonable, and there has … Read More »



How to Ask Your Soon to be Spouse for a Pre-nup

For many people, falling in love and preparing for marriage is a process that is so wonderful that they lose sight of the harsh reality that anything can happen and marriages often end. Therefore, the idea of a Pre-Nup is many times not spoken of, as it implies that there is a possibility that the soon to be marriage could potentially result in divorce one day. If you have assets, it is in your best interest to have a Pre-Nup prepared, but initiating a conversation with your spouse regarding the same is not always easy. The following are a few tips to assist you in asking your spouse for a Pre-Nup, while decreasing the chances of bringing turbulence to your relationship:

Bring it up in the Beginning

If possible, at the beginning of any relationship, make it known that you intend to sign a Pre-Nup with whomever you marry. Your soon to be spouse will be aware and prepared for the conversation, eliminating any shock or personal concerns that you doubt the marriage will last.

Use Good Timing

If you are already engaged and you haven’t discussed your desire for a Pre-Nup, choose your timing wisely. Avoid having the discussion … Read More »



关于您的离婚程序

在Amaral & Associates, P.C. 的律师给您提供的法律建议与服务的基础上,本介绍为您解答有关诉讼离婚程序的常见问题。本介绍不能替代律师代理。

• 1. 启动离婚程序

在马萨诸塞州存在两种离婚途径:1)无争议离婚;和 2)争议离婚。

如果双方均同意离婚,并对就离婚条款(与离婚相关的各项事宜,比如财产划分,子女抚养与探视等)达成协议,你们可以按照马萨诸塞州一般法第208章第一款(A)项,提交共同离婚申请,以及一份离婚协议(Separation Agreement),该份协议约定离婚条款,此外还需要夫妻双方各自提供一份财务证明(Financial Statement)和一份 “婚姻已无法经调解再继续”的声明书(Affidavit of Irretrievable Breakdown),该份文件声明婚姻已破裂,再无继续可能。

如果只有一方意图离婚,或者夫妻双方无法就离婚条款达成协议,任一配偶可以单方向法院提交离婚诉求(Complaint for Divorce)启动争议离婚程序。申请争议离婚的法律事由有很多,但最常见的是无过错事由(non-fault grounds)。以无过错事由申请离婚,当事人不需要证明对方的任何过错。以过错事由(fault-based grounds)申请离婚的话,声称对方有过错的一方必须实际证明对方的过错。过错离婚事由包括:(1)通奸;(2)残酷及虐待;(3)重大及经证实的酗酒习惯;(4)恶劣、无理并残酷地拒绝或忽视提供适当的赡养;(5)性无能;(6)刑事判刑或入狱服刑;(7)彻底遗弃。我们的律师根据每对夫妻的具体情况,建议应该以什么事由申请离婚。以何种事由申请离婚可能影响到最终解除婚姻关系的所需的时间。律师的专业法律建议可以帮助您尽快解除婚姻,为婚姻解除后的各项事宜做出安排,并与对方达成协议。



Getting Divorced? Do Not Ignore Your Credit Score (and How to Rebuild it if You Did)

credit divorceCredit scores are one of the most critical finances pieces of recovering financially from a divorce. Credit scores are also one of the most overlooked pieces of post-divorce, as I’ve found by communicating with thousands of followers of my blog, WealthySingleMommy.com. I reached out to Gerri Detweiler, director of consumer education for Credit.com, and author of the free ebook Debt Collection Answers: How to Use Debt Collection Laws to Protect Your Rights for tips on navigating this important reality of life.

How big of a problem are credit scores for people facing divorce?

Your credit scores can take a big hit when you divorce, usually for one of three reasons: One, your income may drop and/or your expenses may increase since you are no longer splitting them with a spouse. This may mean it’s harder to keep up with bills. The second is that most couples have at least one joint account when they split. If the debt isn’t paid off right away it will usually end up being the responsibility of one spouse, and if he or she doesn’t pay it both credit reports (and by extension credit scores) will … Read More »



8 Pieces Of Advice For Divorce In Your 20s

young couple fightingIt’s easy to be hard on yourself when going through divorce in your 20s. While all your friends are busy planning their weddings on Pinterest, you’re planning a new life without your spouse and dealing with mounting legal bills.

To make the process a little easier, we asked experts — divorce lawyers, psychologists and financial advisors — to offer their best advice. Here’s what they had to say:

1. Chalk the divorce up to a lapse in judgment.

Don’t fall into the trap of feeling like a failure for splitting up in your 20s. Forgive yourself and remember that you were young and maybe a little naive when you said “I do,” said Andra Brosh, a Los Angeles-based psychologist.

“The truth is that you probably landed here because of a lapse in judgment and unrealistic expectations of the relationship,” she said. “Blame it on your brain; some research has suggested that the brain is not fully mature or developed until well into your 20s.”

2. Learn from the mistakes you made in your marriage.

You’re only allowed to sulk about splitting up … Read More »



5 Essential Tips for Financial Planning After Divorce

divorce financesDivorce is about severing ties and starting over, at the same time. Having a financial plan can help secure your future and give you peace of mind, but this process isn’t without its challenges.

Related: ‘I’m Getting Divorced, and My Spouse Owns Part of My Company’

“You have to reassess everything,” says chartered financial analyst Robert Stammers, director of investor education for the CFA Institute. “Everything you do is built on a set of future goals, and these change when you get divorced. Your future goals aren’t going to be the same; they’re no longer in connection with someone else.”

While untangling your marital finances, then, think about how to fund the divorce along with your new life.

As Laura Pilz, financial advisor at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, says, “One of the fundamental financial planning rules is that oftentimes, when people get divorced, they think they’re entitled to the life they’ve been living. What ‘divorce’ means is that you’ll get a life that’s 50/50. You’re not guaranteed that you’ll maintain the lifestyle that you’ve become accustomed to.”

Separating emotions from financial decisions makes for smarter choices, too. “Marriage is about love, … Read More »



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