Divorce & Child Support

Divorce Questionnaire

How much will my divorce cost me?
Some lawyers may charge a flat fee, but this is unusual because it is difficult to say with certainty what the total cost will be, however some cases can be flat fee cases. I charge $200.00 per hour, but your spouse’s behavior and complexity of the case will have an impact on time, and therefore, cost. I don’t charge for an initial consultation. You can email me or call me.

How long does it usually take to get divorced?
Usually within a year the case should be disposed of. Again, this cannot be predicted with certainty because much will depend on the behavior of your spouse (and you, of course). If one or both of you is unreasonable or litigious, the case will take longer. Unfortunately, the behavior of the spouses’ lawyers may also lengthen the process. An uncontested divorce may take a month, a contested divorce regarding assets or child custody may take a year or two.

Can my spouse prevent the divorce? Will I have to go to court?
No, your spouse cannot stop the divorce. Divorce is unilateral, i.e., you cannot be compelled to stay married to someone. Your spouse can delay the divorce, however, if determined to be difficult. Also, your divorce probably will not involve a trial. Most divorces settle, as they should. Trials are costly “both in terms of emotions and finances” and should be only a final resort to determine serious disputes. You and your spouse should be the final people to determine your divorce, not a judge. You will have to go to court at least once, if there is an agreement, or possibly more depending on whether the divorce is contested.

How is custody of the children determined?
Typically, even today, children remain with the primary caretaker parent, who is usually the mother. However, this is not set in stone, and the court can award custody depending on the “best interest of the child. Getting sole legal custody is difficult and does not automatically convey the right to permanently remove the children from the Commonwealth.

What about child support and spousal support, or Alimony?
Child support is mandated pursuant to the child support guidelines and can be calculated quickly based on your and your spouse’s gross incomes. Alimony has now been transformed as of March 1, 2012. There are now durational limits to alimony. Its not for ever anymore. Alimony awards are usually a combination of the needs of the parties and the ability to pay. There is also a formula that the new law provides. If you have a current alimony order, give me a call to discuss a modification. Wage assignments, if the obligor is employed, are now mandatory for child support (unless suspended by the agreement of the parties) and prevent nonpayment. If payment is in arrears, you can file a complaint for contempt.

To calculate what the weekly child support would be see, click on the following link:

NEW GUIDELINES EFFECTIVE SEPTEMBER 25, 2017:

http://www.mass.gov/courts/docs/forms/probate-and-family/cjd-304-worksheet-child-support-guidelines-2017.pdf

For a look at the financial forms you would be required to fill out, click on the following link and scroll to Financial Statement

http://www.mass.gov/courts/forms/pfc/pfc-forms-gen.html

What about health insurance?

The children will remain covered by present health insurance. The divorced spouse also is covered at no extra cost until such time as the insured remarries. At that time, the divorced spouse may continue on the plan, but it is usually specified that the additional cost will be paid for by the divorced spouse. However, this statute, G.L.c. 175, § 110I, does not apply if the employer is a self-insurer. In that case, the federal COBRA regulations apply. They provide short-term coverage, usually 18 months, at an immediate and substantial cost to the divorced spouse. (Health insurance is an increasingly important issue: the cost is escalating, and fewer parties have low-cost, continued coverage.) If alimony is awarded, judges must also require that the obligor obtain or reimburse the spouse for the cost of health insurance without reducing the alimony award. G.L. c. 208, § 34.

My spouse will try to cheat me financially, so what can you do about it?
An Automatic Retraining Order comes into effect upon the filing of a Divorce for both parties restraining you and your spouse from selling or hiding assets. Take precautions; appraise assets to prevent them from under-valuation; check sources of income from bank records, tax returns, credit card statements and the like. However, if your spouse is very slippery and very determined, discovery will be costly – and still something may slip between the cracks.

Can my spouse get my inherited property?
Probably not. Particularly if the marriage is short, most judges like to leave family assets with that spouse but may compensate in dividing other assets viewed as “joint.” Because all assets, however acquired, whenever acquired and regardless of title are by statute subject to division, do not assume that any asset is safe from division. Other factors could have an impact on this.

If you have questions about divorce, contact Mark Gardner for more information or call 781-337-3999 ext 202 or text me at 617-909-5083.