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

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What Are the Differences Between an ARC Attorney, Guardian ad Litem and Parenting Coordinator?

In high conflict custody cases in Massachusetts, there are many experts that can become involved in your case to help with the conflict and pending issues. The most common experts are Guardians ad Litem, Parenting Coordinators, and ARC Attorneys. However, many parents often confuse these roles. This article will explain what each role is and the difference between these types of experts.

 

 

Guardian ad Litem

A Guardian ad Litem (also known as a GAL) is one of the most common experts in a high conflict custody case. A GAL is typically appointed by the court to investigate the pending issues in the case. A Guardian ad Litem is either a mental health professional that works with divorced or separated families, or a Family Law attorney.

 

Oftentimes, the GAL is asked to investigate the facts of the case and then make recommendations for legal custody, physical custody, and parenting time. A GAL is oftentimes also charged with investigating other issues that arise such as substance abuse, domestic violence, and child abuse. Ultimately, the GAL … Read More »



The Legal Status of Parent Coordinators in Massachusetts- An Update

Parenting coordinator Massachusetts

In 2014 we blogged about the legal status of Parent Coordinators in Massachusetts. The article was written just after the Supreme Judicial Court decided the case of Bower v. Bournay-Bower. However, since that decision came down in September 2014, a lot has changed.

 

For those who do not know what a Parenting Coordinator is, a Parenting Coordinator is a trained attorney or mental health professional who has a background in child custody and parenting time disputes assist parents to resolve and reach agreement concerning disagreements about co-parenting, custody, and the parenting schedule.

 

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 … Read More »



Creating New Holiday Traditions for Children After a Divorce

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Divorce is difficult for anyone, but it can be especially difficult for children. Once parents decide to divorce, the children then have to face the reality of their parents no longer living under the same roof. This is a difficult transition for almost all children, but it can be especially difficult at the holidays. Parents should stress to their children that it is okay to enjoy the holidays during this difficult time—at both parent’s homes.

 

But to help children transition to this new structure of the family, parents should consider developing new traditions that the family as a whole did not do before. This can be something very small, such as selecting a Christmas tree from a specific place, or baking holiday cookies with your children, or something bigger, such as a nice vacation.

 

On the same hand, though, parents should also try to maintain some consistency. If there … Read More »



Types of Child Custody in Massachusetts

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Legal custody is the “decision making” custody. The parent or parents who have legal custody of a child have the authority to make decisions regarding the child’s care and upbringing, such as … Read More »



How to Help Your Child Emotionally Through a Divorce or Child Custody Matter

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What is a Guardian ad Litem? Do I Need a GAL for My Custody Case?

Custody

In high conflict child custody cases in Massachusetts, it is not uncommon for the court to appoint a Guardian ad Litem (also known as a GAL). However, many parents do not know what a GAL is, and what a GAL is supposed to do in a child custody case until the GAL is appointed. If you are a parent in a high conflict child custody case, it is important to know who a GAL is and what he/she does before the case even starts.

 

Q: What is a GAL?

A: A GAL is a person (usually a Family Law Attorney or mental health professional who works with families) appointed by the court to investigate the issue of child custody and/or parenting time for a family in the midst of a child custody case.

 

Q: What does the GAL do?

A: The GAL is required to conduct an investigation whereby he/she speaks with the parents, child(ren), and anyone else necessary and relevant to the case (e.g. school teachers, doctors, family friends, family members, family therapists, etc.) The GAL will also review any relevant documents for the … Read More »



5 Ways to Help Your Kids Thrive After Divorce

happy kidDivorce is prevalent in American culture nowadays. All divorces are painful, but those between parents of small children can be particularly hard, since you worry about your children’s emotional welfare on top of all of the other stressors involved in your divorce. Amidst all of the pain and chaos of your divorce, making sure the kids are okay is of paramount importance for most parents.

As a therapist in private practice, and the author of the upcoming book How to Talk to Your Kids about Your Divorce: Healthy, Effective Communication Techniques for Your Changing Family, parents ask me many questions about how to help their kids deal with divorce in the healthiest possible way. Here are five tips to help your kids cope and even thrive after divorce.

1. Be honest.

Make sure that your kids know that the divorce is final and that you won’t be reconciling with your co-parent. Additionally, admit if you are sad about the divorce; your child will likely be upset and this will validate his or her emotions. If you are going to have to change your … Read More »



Good Tips for Co-Parenting After a Divorce or Breakup

When a couple divorces (or in the case where they were never married, breaks up), it can be difficult to get along after the breakup or divorce. However, when there are children involved, the couple has no choice but to stay in touch and try to get along after the divorce or break up. As much as one-half of this previous couple may want to ignore the other person and never see or speak to the other person again, the two will have to talk and work together for the sake of the children. Here are some good tips to make things easier for the sake of the kids.

1. Put the children first. Remember, you may not be a couple anymore, but you do have children together. They were innocent in the breakup, and they shouldn’t be pulled into the breakup or divorce. Keep the children out of the “adult” stuff, and put them first amongst all else. As much as you may dislike your former spouse or significant other, you still have to work with him or her for the … Read More »



Understanding Types of Child Custody in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, along with most other states, there are two types of child custody: 1) legal custody; 2) physical custody. Not all parents understand the difference between the two types of custody, and it can sometimes be confusing.

When a parent has legal custody of a child, then the parent has the right to make important and major decisions in the child’s life. This includes where the child will go to school, decisions about the child’s health and welfare, what religion(s) the child will be raised in, as well as other significant decisions affecting the child. Typically, but not always, both parents share legal custody, which then is known as joint legal custody. However, in certain instances, only one parent has legal custody, which is known as sole legal custody.

The other type of custody is physical custody. This type of custody relates to who the child physically resides with. If a child resides with one parent more than the other parent, then the parent who has the child more of the time has primary physical custody. If parents equally share time with the child, then there is no primary physical custodian, … Read More »



Child Custody & Visitation Mediation

Child Custody & Visitation Mediation FAQ’s

Do you wish there was a way to make getting a separation from your significant other or divorce from your spouse easier on your children?

Mediation helps preserve and maintain whatever is left of the good part of your relationship by significantly reducing the tension of getting a divorce. Parties who mediate their family law matters are typically able to reach an agreement that first serves the “best interests” of their children and then themselves.

Who is best suited to make decisions about your children?

Typically the parties are more satisfied by having arrived at their own “solutions” to the problems as opposed to having a judge ram a decision against you both that neither party may like.

How do you know if mediation is right for you?

Mediation may be an option if each party wants to save money for their children’s interest instead of paying excessive fees to their lawyers and if both parties wish to reach and create a thorough agreement in a short period of time usually a month or so as opposed to waiting close to 14 months for the traditional … Read More »



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