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

Posts Tagged child support

Sound Reasons Why You Should Mediate Your Divorce.


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 »

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 it is sufficient merely to be cordial. We do not practice law in a vacuum, however. In family law, we … 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 »

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 taxable to the recipient spouse. Child support is considered a tax neutral payment.

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Divorce Mediation: Preparing Your Case

Now that you have made the wise decision to mediate your divorce case, it’s time to do your homework. As you know, mediation provides a mechanism for disputing parties to reach an amicable and well thought out resolution to a divorce, without having to depend on the court to make decisions for you and your spouse. In order to get as much out of your mediation as possible, you need to first do some basic research.

Now that you have made the wise decision to mediate your divorce case, it’s time to do your homework. As you know, mediation provides a mechanism for disputing parties to reach an amicable and well thought out resolution to a divorce, without having to depend on the court to make decisions for you and your spouse. In order to get as much out of your mediation as possible, you need to first do some basic research.

To be sure, divorce mediation is not a formal process like a contested divorce trial would be, but you should prepare your case as though you were going to trial. Whether you will be paying support to your spouse in the … Read More »

Establishing Paternity in Massachusetts


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 »

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 »

The Important Difference Between a Merging and Surviving Separation Agreement

It is not uncommon for a spouse to want to modify certain provisions of his or her Separation Agreement after a divorce. As time goes on, circumstances will most certainly change for the former spouses. However, not all Separation Agreements are modifiable. Before a spouse files a modification action, it is important to ascertain whether the separation agreement, or the relevant portions of the agreement, can be modified.

In Massachusetts, Separation Agreements either “merge” or survive”. When a separation agreement “merges” it means that all provisions in the agreement may be modified through a Complaint for Modification, upon a showing of a material change in circumstances. When a separation agreement “survives” it means it has its own independent legal significance, and can only be modified in the rarest of circumstances. The courts have stated that there must be “countervailing equities” to modify a surviving agreement. Although the term “countervailing equities” has not exactly been defined by the court, it has generally meant the most extraordinary circumstance will permit a modification, such as a person becoming a ward of the state absent a modification.

It … Read More »

Important Documents a Spouse Should Bring to a Consultation with a Divorce or Family Law Attorney

Free Checklist For HomeBuyersIf you are thinking it has come the time to file for divorce, or any other important family law matter, there are certain types of documents a spouse or parent should always bring with him or her when meeting with a lawyer for the first time. Being prepared with these documents can assist an attorney in any initial consultation to better advise you with respect to your divorce or family law matter. So what should you bring with you?

1. Important legal documents. This includes marriage certificates and birth certificates. If you are not yet divorced, but you have a prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement, you should bring this with you as well. If you are already divorced, or never married, and there are existing court orders regarding your spouse or your children, you should bring any of the current court orders with you, as well as any related agreements, such as a Separation Agreement.

2. Financial documents. This includes recent paystubs. You should bring at least one month’s worth of paystubs. You will also want to bring your … Read More »

What a Divorce or Family Law Attorney Can Do That a Spouse or Parent Can’t Do on Their Own

When a spouse is going through a divorce, or a parent is going through a custody or child support battle, it can be a stressful time in that person’s life. Navigating through the family court process can be confusing under the best of circumstances. If the case is very contentious, then this only makes the circumstances worse.

A spouse or parent may think that since the case is about his or her life, who would be better to represent that spouse or parent but himself or herself. However, when going through such a delicate time, in which there are rigid standards established by the law and the court, it is better for that spouse or parent to engage the assistance of a knowledgeable family law attorney to help that spouse or parent through the process.

But what can a family law attorney do that the spouse or parent can’t do on their own?

1. Remove the emotion from the case. An attorney can approach the case with the emotion and stress removed. An attorney is a neutral person coming into the case. … Read More »

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