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Should I Tell my Spouse in a Divorce that I'm Working with a Lawyer?

Photo by  Sam Moqadam on Unsplash Divorce is complicated and one of the challenges is the push and pull between transparency and protecting oneself.  Individuals in a divorce often want to hide information that they are worried will concern their soon-to-be ex-spouse or in some way potentially disadvantage them in court or in a settlement process.  The choice of whether to be transparent about any choice, including the choice to hire a lawyer, has to be weighed against the pros and cons of that decision. As a mediator, I favor erring on the side of transparency.  If you hide something relevant during a negotiation where both spouses are supposed to be able to make informed decisions then you risk the negotiation failing and all future negotiations being conducted without any trust.  In other words, if you want your spouse to be transparent, you have to demonstrate that willingness as well.  This seems more obvious when you're considering keeping relevant information secret, like t
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Are divorce lawyers doing harm?

While the Hippocratic Oath is no longer required for doctors, we often hear the principle attributed to that ancient Greek oath for healers to "first, do no harm."  The translation is actually closer to "I will do no harm or injustice to them," but the sentiment is clear.  When trying to help someone, your first obligation is to not make things worse.   Today, I attended the third in a series of public forums held by the Child Support Guidelines Task Force giving people the opportunity to comment on what should change in the 2018 Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines.  What struck me about the testimony is that very few people commented on the guidelines themselves.  Rather they focused on the perceived impact of the guidelines and of the courts on family conflict.  Almost universally, the commenters suggested that changes were needed because the experience in court impoverished families, increased conflict, and hurt children. Whether calling for a lower formula

Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines News - Part 2

Since we first posted about the upcoming update to the 2020-2021 Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines Task force  there have been a few additional updates: On December 15, 2020, the Massachusetts Council on Family Mediation submitted comments from members on potential child support guidelines updates . While the comment period for submitting written comments closed on December 15, 2020, there are upcoming public forums and we're sharing the full notice with you below: NOTICE OF PUBLIC FORUMS CHILD SUPPORT GUIDELINES TASK FORCE SEEKS PUBLIC COMMENT Overview: Federal law and regulations require that each state review its Child Support Guidelines at least every four years. To comply with the federally required review, the Honorable Paula M. Carey, Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Trial Court, has appointed a Task Force to review the Child Support Guidelines that became effective on September 15, 2017, as amended June 15, 2018. Chief Justice Carey appointed the Honorable John D. Ca

Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines News

Every four years, per federal requirements, the Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines must be reviewed.  To that end, the Trial Court Chief Justice Paula M. Carey has announced the formation of the 2020-2021 Massachusetts Trial Court Child Support Guidelines Task Force . The Task Force is seeking public comment regarding the current Child Support Guidelines.  Written comments may be submitted to the Task Force at: childsupport@jud.state.ma.us by December 15, 2020. While we're awaiting the new guidelines, the court has finally updated their existing interactive worksheet to be more accessible .  The worksheet has been available as an interactive PDF since the last guidelines update in 2018.  However, the pdf doesn't work in all readers, and on mobile devices it may not be accessible.  The Court has now released a web-version of the Child Support Guidelines Worksheet which can be used in any browser or mobile device.  The pdf option is still available as well.  

Justice App - a Resource worth Downloading

Skylark's online Massachsuetts Child Support Calculator   was recently added as a resource on JusticeApp - a free downloadable resource from co-founders Damian Turco and Melina Munoz Turco.  This is the future of how clients will find reliable information, professionals and resources and we're pleased to be included. A Message from the Co-Founders: JusticeApp is a free mobile app designed to help people with legal problems manage their cases through the court system. The app doesn’t aim to create solutions for every legal problem.  Rather, it aggregates credible resources already created and maintain by government, legal aid organization, and, in some select instances, private attorneys, in a simple and clean interface. No more endless internet searches at two in the morning, wondering if the information you find is accurate and reliable.  Without leaving the app, JusticeApp guides you to resources on the law, courthouses, and the court’s official online docket. You can draft c

Collaborative in a time of COVID

by Beth Aarons When a former family law colleague of mine told me about Collaborative Law Process sometime around 2008, conceptually it sounded much like a series of traditional four-way meetings, but with a therapist present.  As a fledgling dispute resolution process, I saw no harm in adding this skill set to my professional tool kit to bolster the transition of my practice out of litigation and into dispute resolution. It was not until several years after I had taken the Introduction to Collaborative Law training that I experienced the actual magic of Collaborative Law Process.  The family had been slowly imploding for years and now everything was coming to a head.* Mom and Dad still occupied the same house but had stopped speaking to each other years earlier after Dad had an infidelity.  They had decided to divorce but not tell the kids until there was a plan to separate into two households.  Mom had lost her job and Dad’s salary was not enough to cover two sets of living expenses,

2020 U.S. Presidential Platforms - What do they say about Families?

In 2016 we shared what each presidential platform stated about families and given the upcoming election we want to update our post with the latest information.  There are significant differences between the presidential candidates, and their platforms explain some of the vehemence with which many defend or attack the 2020 candidates.  Since this blog focuses primarily on the impact of the law on families and family conflict, we will concentrate on only one portion of the presidential platforms: How does each 2020 U.S. Presidential Platform address families in America? While in 2016 we indicated that we did not endorse any candidate officially, and we provided the platforms in no particular order, in this election the author (Justin Kelsey) cannot, in good conscience make the same statement.  The republican nominee for president, Donald Trump, has failed to represent equality, freedom, and human rights for all individuals and families in America and he has expressed opinions about powe