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

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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 on a … Read More »



‘Happy Valentine’s Day. I Want a Divorce.’

Valentine’s Day is approaching — and it turns out the weeks leading up to this most romantic of holidays also mark the highpoint of “divorce season.”

While there’s no national database tracking divorce filings, anecdotally, attorneys report that January and February tend to be the busiest months of the year in terms of divorce inquiries.

Why? In large part it’s a holiday hangover. A recent poll by my divorce mediation company, showed that one in 12 people (and one in eight women!) are considering divorce during the holidays. And as soon as the holidays are over, many make it their New Year’s resolution to begin again and start divorce proceedings.

I’ve worked in family law for 12 years and without fail, my phone starts ringing off the hook on January 2nd. Most start by asking for the lay of the land — they want to know their options.

Unfortunately, most people still think of divorce as the 1980s War of the Roses scenario, where each party hires the meanest pitbull of a lawyer they can find, spends thousands of dollars on legal fees and … Read More »



Rehabilitative, Transitional, and Reimbursement  Alimony in Massachusetts

Q: What are Reimbursement Alimony, Rehabilitative Alimony, and Transitional Alimony?

A: There are 4 types of alimony under Massachusetts law. The four types are:

General Term Alimony Rehabilitative Alimony Reimbursement Alimony Transitional Alimony Rehabilitative Alimony Q: What is Rehabilitative Alimony?

A: By the statute’s definition, Rehabilitative Alimony for a recipient spouse who is expected to become economically self-sufficient by a predicted time, such as, without limitation, reemployment; completion of job training; or receipt of a sum due from the payor spouse under a judgment.

Q: When is a spouse eligible to receive Rehabilitative Alimony?

A: Rehabilitative Alimony is available to all spouses, regardless of how long they have been married.

Q: When Does Rehabilitative Alimony End?

A: Rehabilitative Alimony ends upon the first of the following to occur:

upon the remarriage of the recipient spouse, the occurrence of a specific event in the future that is outlined in the court order the death of either spouse; After 5 years. Q: Can Rehabilitative Alimony last longer than 5 years?

A: Yes, a spouse can file a complaint for modification upon a showing of compelling circumstances in the event that:

unforeseen events prevent the recipient spouse from being self-supporting at the end … Read More »



Having Your Voice Heard in a Divorce

Having Your Voice Heard in a DivorceDivorces can be a lengthy, complicated and emotionally charged process. With all of the procedural nuances of a divorce proceeding and procedural rules of the court, even after several court appearances, it is entirely possible that a spouse will not have had the opportunity to testify and tell his or her side of the story. Oftentimes, the first few court appearances just involve the parties’ attorneys arguing on their respective behalves and a judge making a ruling. It is not until much further into the process that a spouse has an opportunity to speak on own their behalf and tell their side of the story.

Having your voice heard in a divorce can be very therapeutic and cathartic. But all too often that can get swallowed up in the legal technicalities of a divorce. There is, however, an alternative to a long drawn-out divorce, where spouses can tell their side of the story and have their voices heard. This is through divorce mediation.

In divorce mediation, a neutral mediator, … 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 »



Pet “Custody” and Divorce

Pet “Custody” and DivorceIn all families, pets are just as an important member of the family as anyone else. Unfortunately, the law has not caught up with this view. Therefore, when spouses divorce, “custody” of a pet is not treated on the same level, legally speaking, as custody of child. In child custody matters, the legal standard is the “best interests of the child”. However, for pets, the law considers them property, and subject to property division under marital property laws.

When you think about how important a pet is to the family, thinking of them property is unbelievable. It seems like too much of a sterile and unemotional process, that when you are dividing the silverware and furniture, you have factor Fido into that division.

Although the law has not caught up with the popular mentality about pets, spouses are addressing pet “custody” in a more sensical manner in divorces. In cases involving children, the pets typically follow the children, as much as possible, during each spouse’s parenting time.

In cases where there no children, if the pet … 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 »



General Term Alimony: What is It?

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Q: What is General Term Alimony?

A: There are 4 types of alimony under Massachusetts law. The four types are:

General Term Alimony: the periodic payment of support to a recipient spouse who is economically dependent. Rehabilitative alimony: the periodic payment of support to a recipient spouse who is expected to become economically self-sufficient by a predicted time, such as, without limitation, reemployment; completion of job training; or receipt of a sum due from the payor spouse under a judgment. Reimbursement alimony: the periodic or one-time payment of support to a recipient spouse after a marriage of not more than 5 years to compensate the recipient spouse for economic or noneconomic contribution to the financial resources of the payor spouse, such as enabling the payor spouse to complete an education or job training. Transitional alimony: the periodic or one-time payment of support to a recipient spouse after a marriage of not more than 5 years to transition the recipient spouse to an adjusted lifestyle or location as a result of the divorce.

 

General Term Alimony is the most … Read More »



How Much Will My Divorce Cost?

What are the legal fees of divorce?Many times one of the first questions a potential client will ask our firm is “How much will my divorce cost?” Unfortunately, there is no straight answer for this question. There are many variable factors that can affect how much a divorce will cost, and there is no “standard” legal fees for a divorce.

One of the biggest factors to determine how much a divorce will cost is whether the divorce is contested or uncontested. With uncontested divorces in Massachusetts (also known as IA divorces), spouses not only agree to get divorce, but agree to the terms of settlement of the divorce. They then jointly file with the court a Joint Petition for Divorce along with a Separation Agreement that outlines the terms of settlement. There is then only one court hearing to approve the documents that have been jointly filed by both spouses. Whereas, in a contested divorce, either one spouse opposes the divorce altogether, or the spouses cannot agree on some of the terms … Read More »



Who gets the house in a divorce?

Who gets the marital home in a divorce?Q: I’m getting a divorce. Who gets the house when the divorce is finalized?

A: The short answer is, it depends. There are many factors that must be considered in determining who gets to keep the marital home during a divorce.

Q: What factors are considered in determining who gets the marital home in a divorce?

A: One of the biggest factors is finances. If either or both spouses want to keep the marital home, the court will consider whether he/she can afford the operating costs of the marital home. Also, the court will consider whether the spouse who wishes to retain the marital home can afford to buy out the other spouse based upon the remaining equity in the marital home.

Q: How does a spouse buyout the other spouse’s equity in the marital home?

A: This can be done in a few ways. First, the spouse who retains the marital home can take out a mortgage, or refinance the existing mortgage and … Read More »



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