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

Posts Tagged child custody

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 »



Sound Reasons Why You Should Mediate Your Divorce.

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I have been a divorce attorney for over 25 years and a divorce mediator for almost as long. When a potential client asks me whether they should mediate their divorce or whether they should just get their own attorney and file for a contested divorce, I tell them the following. A contested divorce can last well over a year. In fact, in Massachusetts, the tracking order assigned to your contested divorce is for fourteen (14) months. Which means that the life span of a contested divorce can be as much as 14 months. During this time frame, the parties will exchange financial documents, attend numerous hearings on temporary orders in court, have a pre-trial hearing followed up by status conferences and then a trial if your case does not settle. All of this discovery and all of the court hearings and meetings or phone call with your attorney will cost you money in legal fees both to you and your spouse. A divorce attorney can make 10-20 times more in legal fees on a contested case then they can … Read More »



The New 2017 Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines: What’s New? What’s the Same?

Child Support Massachusetts, Child Support Mass., Child Support Suffolk County, Child Support Middlesex County, Child Support Essex County, Child Support Norfolk County, Child Support Boston, Child Support Winthrop, Child Support East Boston, Child Support Revere, Child Support Danvers, Child Support Lynnfield, Child Support Marblehead, Child Support Swampscott, Child Support Nahant, Child Support Peabody, Child Support Salem, Child Support Saugus, Child Support Arlington, Child Support Belmont, Child Support Burlington, Child Support Cambridge, Child Support Everett, Child Support Malden, Child Support Medford, Child Support Melrose, Child Support North Reading, Child Support Reading, Child Support Somerville, Child Support Stoneham, Child Support Wakefield, Child Support Watertown, Child Support Wilmington, Child Support Winchester, Child Support Woburn, Child Support Brookline, Child Support Braintree, Child Support Milton, Child Support Quincy, Child Support ChelseaThe Trial Court of Massachusetts issued new Child Support Guidelines, which took effect last week on September 15th. There are many changes to the new Guidelines, but also a lot of things stayed the same. This article will explain the changes to the new Guidelines, but what also stayed the same compared to the 2013 Child Support … 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. Try to Co-Parent with the Other Parent: Even during a custody case, parents … Read More »



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 »



Establishing Paternity in Massachusetts

paternity

In Massachusetts, the custody of a child born to unwed parents is presumed to be solely with the mother of the child, unless and until paternity of the child is established, and there is a court order regarding custody.

It is important for both a mother and father to have paternity established, because without establishing paternity, there can be no child support order issued, or any order relative to custody and parenting time (also known as visitation), or any other orders regarding the child.

A father can establish paternity in Massachusetts in one of two ways. First, when the child is born, the father can sign a “Voluntary Acknowledgement of Parentage” which is an affidavit in which the father states he is the biological father. In this case, the father is added to the child’s birth certificate. In this circumstance, the mother is still considered to have sole custody of the child. In order for there to be a custody order, either parent can then file a Complaint for Support-Custody-Visitation. After this complaint is filed, the court can issue orders regarding child support, … Read More »



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 … Read More »



How Divorced Parents Lost Their Rights

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — MY wife and I disagree, sometimes vehemently, about how best to raise our four children. She’s a lawyer, and I am sure the thought of suing me has crossed her mind once or twice. But she cannot. American courts consistently refuse to entertain child-rearing disputes between married parents.

In 1936, the New York State Court of Appeals explained the reasoning: “Dispute between parents when it does not involve anything immoral or harmful to the welfare of the child is beyond the reach of the law. The vast majority of matters concerning the upbringing of children must be left to the conscience, patience, and self-restraint of father and mother. No end of difficulties would arise should judges try to tell parents how to bring up their children.”

Married parents cannot sue each other. Divorced parents (or those who never married) can and do. Judges routinely decide where the children of divorced parents will attend school, worship and receive medical care; judges may even decide whether they play soccer or take piano lessons.

0907DIVORCE-articleLarge Credit Bianca Bagnarelli

Judges do this because the law … Read More »



Deciding To Become A Stay At Home Mom? Consider This Cautionary Tale

There’s a story I’ve heard countless times over the years, from both clients and colleagues. The details vary from one couple to another, but in general, the plot goes something like this:

Out of school, Amy and John each landed plum jobs in their fields. They worked hard and made excellent salaries, affording them the classic DINK (double income, no kids) lifestyle for a few years. When deciding to start a family, Amy and John discussed how best to be parents and manage their careers. It was important to both of them that one parent be home with the children. Like many of her peers, Amy chose to become a SAHM (stay-at-home mom) – and, happily at the time, left her job to begin this exciting new chapter in her life.

Over the years, John put in long hours and traveled extensively for his job, while Amy managed house, home and family. They had another child or two, and as the children thrived, Amy set aside the idea of getting back to paid work. John, meanwhile, felt increasingly unhappy under pressure to be the … Read More »



Pets increasingly at center of divorce battles

Can you imagine being separated from your adorable, furry companion? Increasingly, pets are becoming subjects of contention for couples undergoing divorce. In some cases, pets are even included in prenuptial arrangements, also known as “pre-pups.”

There are nearly 179 million cats and dogs living in U.S. homes, according to the Human Society of the United States. Pet ownership has surged over the years, and many Americans would rather go to court than leave a bad marriage even more alone.

“It’s essential a couple that has a pet deal with these with issues because pets aren’t treated in the same way under the laws,” said attorney Ann-Margaret Carrozza.

Vicki Ziegler, star of Bravo cable network show “Untying the Knot” about divorce battles, wrote in her July 2 blog: “Conflicts over pets can be just as important to divorcing spouses as any issue when both spouses have developed a special connection to a furry friend that they love and care for day-in and day-out. This feeling can be even greater when the couple has no children and the animal has taken on the role of the … Read More »



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