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Showing posts from November, 2010

Can I Prevent my Ex from Moving Our Children if they Still Live in-State?

As discussed in a previous post, M.G.L. c. 208 Section 30 states that a child who the Massachusetts' probate courts have jurisdiction over shall not be removed from the Commonwealth without consent of both parents or Order of the Court. This statute does not apply to vacations, but rather is intended to prevent the "removal" of children to another state of residence without permission of both parents or the Court's permission.

In a 2003 decision, the Massachusetts Appellate Court expanded this prohibition on removal to include relocation within the Commonwealth if the relocation would "involve significant disruption of the noncustodial parent's visitation rights and the parents cannot agree." D.C. v. J.S., 58 Mass. App. Ct. 351, 355-356 (2003).

If your ex is threatening to move to another part of the state with your children and it would significantly disrupt your parenting time with the children, then you can ask the Court to prevent this move. If the…

What is a Parenting Plan? What is the best Parenting Plan for my children?

A Parenting Plan is a comprehensive agreement which sets out both the time that children will spend with each parent as well as the rights and obligations of each parent to the children and the other parent during their parenting time. It can include a holiday visitation schedule, pick-up and drop-off locations, and even agreements relating to what will happen if one of the children becomes ill. Parenting Plans are necessary when two parents live apart (whether because they were never married, are divorced, getting divorced, or simply choosing to live separate and apart).

Parenting Plans can be made specific in instances where it is necessary to prevent future conflict, and they can be made flexible so that you and the other parent can make agreements outside of the parenting plan in unforeseen circumstances.

The best Parenting Plan for each family will depend on the ages of the children in that family,the schedules of both the parents and the children, the relative parenting abiliti…

Could I be Forced to Pay Child Support for someone else's Child?

Casino Billionaire to pay $100,000 per Month in Child Support for Non-Biological Child: As reported in a recent Boston.com Article, Billionaire Kirk Kerkorian, the major shareholder of MGM Resorts International, has settled with Lisa Bonder Kerkorian, to whom he was married for only 28 days, to pay over $10 million in child support arrears as well as $100,000 in child support per month. Even more shocking than the figures and the short term of the marriage is the fact that Mr. Kerkorian is not the biological father of the child and was purposefully defrauded by the mother who faked a DNA test.

In Massachusetts, a person who is married within 300 days of the birth of the child to the mother is the legal parent of the child even if they are not the biological parent. This is a presumption that can be overcome with a paternity test. However, even if the paternity test proves that the husband is not the biological father, this does not necessarily mean he is not the legal father. Some…

Dramatic Impact of Mediation on Children of Divorce

According to a 12 year study by Dr. Robert E. Emery, Ph.D., a Professor of Psychology and Director of the Center for Children, Families, and the Law at the University of Virginia, Mediation can have a dramatic impact on children of divorce and their relationship with a non-residential parent. Dr. Emery summarizes his findings in the recent issue of the Family Mediation Quarterly.

The study used a coin-flip to decide whether high-conflict custody cases would try a short-term (five hour average) mediation. The results of only five hours of mediation were amazing, especially with relation to the children.

Twelve years after the average divorce in America, nonresident parents saw their children weekly in only 11% of cases. In the cases where the parties tried mediation based solely on a coin-flip 28% of nonresident parents saw their children weekly after 12 years. This is a significant difference and the difference is even more significant with reference to telephone contact (weekly t…

The Role of new Technologies in Divorce Cases.

At Kelsey & Trask, P.C. we recognize that the state-of-the-art technology affects not just the positive aspects of our lives but also the negative. For example, constant access to e-mail, facebook, twitter and similar services provides us with both ways to connect and ways to be distracted (as described further in this NPR article about cell phones interfering with marriages).

It is important therefore to make effective use of technology to help you in your divorce case and also to recognize how the use of technology could hurt your case. These new technologies can also be used to help us learn more about the statistics of divorce (as described in this article about the break-up trends displayed in Facebook posts). Below you can find some resources on our blog and website that deal with both the positive and negative impact of technology on divorce.

We have written many times on this site about the many ways in which Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites are bei…

Is it Possible to have More than Two Parents?

Whether or not everyone approves, it is a fact of life that the "traditional nuclear family" is becoming less the norm. In the practice of family law we are encountering more and more unique family structures; some brought on by the advance of technology (like artificial insemination or surrogate parenthood), some brought on by divorce and re-marriage creating step or second families, and some brought on by the changing laws around gay marriage and adoption.

There are situations in the law in which the Courts have already dealt with the issue of whether a non-biological parent could be a "Parent" as well. For instance, in Massachusetts there is a Grandparent Visitation Statute that provides for visitation for grandparents with their grandchildren if they have been significantly involved in the children's lives. Although this standard is strictly applied by the Courts, a win on a grandparent visitation case is essentially a recognition that a child's gran…

Can I be sued for Divorce in Massachusetts if I don't live there but my spouse does?

If your spouse has lived in Massachusetts for one year or can establish that the breakdown of the marriage occurred in Massachusetts (as explained in a previous post) then they can obtain a divorce in Massachusetts. However, they will not be able to obtain personal jurisdiction over you and your property except in specific circumstances. In other words, Massachusetts can dissolve the marriage, but unless the Massachusetts courts can establish personal jurisdiction over you they cannot order you to transfer property that is outside Massachusetts or pay alimony.

Jurisdiction over the Dissolution of the Marriage

The United States Supreme Court in Williams v. North Carolina, 317 U. S. 287 (1942), decided that each State can determine the marital status of any spouse domiciled in that state, even if the other spouse is absent. Williams v. North Carolina, 317 U. S. 287, 298 (1942). In addition, the Court decided that under the Full Faith and Credit Clause that divorce decree must be honor…

When a Tweet is a Threat

Following up on an earlier blog post discussing how contact through social networking websites, such as Facebook, may be an arrestable offense when there is an existing restraining order in effect, threats posted on social networking websites may also give rise to the issuing of a restraining order. In Arizona, an argument between two college students was escalated when one of the students wrote on his Twitter account that he would "not hesitate to punch [the other student] in the face if I saw him . . . Just sayin." The other student then obtained a restraining order because of the "tweet."

Regardless of whether the "tweet" was a legitimate threat, it is important to realize that writing something of that nature on a social networking website makes it possible that the individual to whom you are referring might read it, and might take it seriously. Be smart. Don't take your arguments to the internet. You are just documenting the "he-said-s…