Family Law

Overview

I work primarily with individuals coordinating, mediating, and/or negotiating a joint filing of Separation Agreement. I do however inevitably spend a fair bit of time in court if necessary on modifications, motions for contempt, custody etc., on all family related matters. As a side note, if you’re reading this, I amicably coordinated my own divorce several years ago and I have a step son, so I understand not just the legal side of things, but also the personal side of this process.

Mediation: Making the decisions that affect you, your family and your future.

Most often, while still caught up in the emotions triggered by the beautiful messiness life sometimes provides for us, many individuals move swiftly to file law suits and a legal battle ensues, costing tens of thousands of dollars or more and years of/off your life to get a judgment, sometimes in your favor–made by an individual who knows nothing about you (outside of “relevant” facts proffered during during the course of your case), your family or your needs or desires.

Thus, mediation becomes just like the practice of yoga–not easy, but a most empowering process that allows you to actively participate in the resolution and creation of your life.

The first and often the biggest step in this process is for clients to acknowledge they play(ed) a role in creating their current place in this world, their life, and the particular situation presented. Second, at some point having acquired most if not all the relevant facts/factors I ask each of the parties involved what it is that they need and or would like. Third, I present what, in general, a court may do, or in other words, what would be a fair and equitable resolution. And then we look at the actual, real world possibilities instead of arguing over ideals and emotions. Once an agreement has been mutually created and accepted by all parties, it is filed with the court and the cost, time and damage of litigation is typically avoided.

In terms a divorce, there are several documents that get filed including Financial Statements for each of party, a Joint Motion for Divorce, an Affidavit of Irretrievable Breakdown, an original or certified copy of marriage certificate, and a Certificate of Absolute Divorce or Annulment. You can obtain an original marriage certificate from the town clerk at minimal cost if any.  All other documents I will prepare and or provide, and review with you. And in the case of your financial statements, you will provide the information and I will help input numbers and make sense of it for you, as well as print final copies for signature which must be on a particular colored paper depending on which (Long (net income above $75k) or Short (below $75k)) form you file.

The separation Agreement that I prepare for you contains all the necessary legal language which I will go through with you.  Within it I will create exhibits for Child Custody and Support (if applicable)t, Medical Insurance and Uninsured Medical Expenses, Life Insurance (with kids, the judge will have you set up a life insurance policy for each other for the benefit of your minor children ), Alimony and General Laws acknowledgement, Division of Real Estate, Division of Personal Property, and any other exhibits necessary which will outline what you both have agreed to. If there is anything you haven’t considered or thought of yet that needs to be in the Agreement, we’ll cover it–alternating years for claiming dependents for tax purposes for one possible example.

Parents will have to participate in mandatory (per the state of Massachusetts) Parent Education Classes. I can send you the list of approved program providers or you can view the current and approved list of providers at http://www.mass.gov/courts/courtsandjudges/courts/probateandfamilycourt, bottom of page under Divorce Forms.  The certificates are also filed with the divorce.. This can be provoking to be told you have to attend parenting classes, but this is simply a Massachusetts requirement/general attempt at ensuring the welfare of all children.

What I do for you is in essence all the legal work–including all explanation/negotiation/mediation of final terms and preparation and review of all the above mentioned documents–ensuring that within all the legal requirements your mutual terms of agreement, especially concerning your children, are included as you would like them to be carried out. I would need to meet with you initially, or speak with you in some capacity to get your information, dates, names, etc., and the terms you’ve agreed to so that I can draft an initial Agreement we can work from until we have everything in it you need. I will meet you where you feel most comfortable. We would work together to organize and prepare your financial statements.  And at some point, finalize, review and sign all documents for filing.

Once everything is finalized, signed and notarized, you may walk right into the courthouse first thing in the morning and hand the papers to the Probate Registry Clerk who will assign you to a Judge who will walk you through acknowledging that you have read and understood everything have had an opportunity to review or obtain legal counsel. This ceremony if you will, before the Judge takes a couple minutes, give or take. He or she reviews the agreement and terms relating to your children if applicable, and when you’re done, it is entered as an Order and Findings. A couple weeks or less after that the Court will mail to you the Order of Divorce and your divorce will become a final Judgment of Divorce Nisi after 90 days from the date of the Order. Nisi is essentially a legal waiting period.

I charge a flat fee based on the particulars of your case.  I have a Fee Agreement for your review and signature. Fee can be estimated upon consult.

If you would like me to accompany you to the courthouse for filing it is an additional $275 per hour.

I will walk you through this process.  And we can do it in whatever time frame you would like.  Everything gets done when you’re ready.

If you would like to talk further, please feel free to call me. I am available 7 days a week.  If you get my voice mail, please leave a message and I will always call you back.