Skip to main content

Divorce Court is Not Like the Television Show "Divorce Court"

At Kelsey & Trask, we like to tell our clients that we assist them in the process of transitioning from one chapter in their lives to the next. In the context of divorce, this transition for many is emotionally difficult. At times, there is often the urge to lash out at one's soon-to-be former spouse, and many people are drawn to the concept of "winning," or righting a wrong.

There are very few pure victories in Probate & Family Court. The nature of the legal process of getting divorced is incomparable to a criminal trial, where a defendant is found guilty or not guilty, or a civil trial, where a defendant is found liable or not liable. I have often explained to clients that "divorce court is not like the television show by the same name." Just because there is a judge does not mean that your worth as a husband or wife will be judged; no "winner" will be announced.

The evolution of no-fault divorce was meant in part to prevent having a courtroom regularly host the high-emotion conflict that one might see on "The Jerry Springer Show" or "Maury." Divorce court is disappointingly unsupportive for those looking to air their grievances against their former mate.

There are certainly instances where cases are litigated in a way that exposing the skeletons in a soon-to-be former spouse's closet is necessary. However, it is important to realize that the system of divorce court is ill-suited for emotional healing. It is designed to divvy up what the couple has and set up a plan for the children, if any, without diving into the psychology of the individuals involved unless the situation requires it.

As stated in a recent post , we wrote about how some emotional issues that arise during the divorce process are better suited for a specialist than an attorney, and we often refer our clients to someone with more training in the appropriate field.

It is important to realize that divorce court's shortcoming as a psychological healing forum means that often finalizing a divorce does not mean the end of the emotional aspect of breaking up. More times than not there is at least some residual bitterness and negativity, and dealing with these emotions at some juncture is necessary. While we at Kelsey & Trask will do everything that we can to assist in handling the legal transition, we are glad to be able to point you in the right direction if additional support would be helpful.


Popular posts from this blog

What is the purpose of the Divorce Nisi waiting period?

In Massachusetts the statutory waiting period after a Judgment of Divorce and before the divorce becomes final (or absolute) is called the Nisi period. After a divorce case settles or goes to trial, a Judgment of Divorce Nisi will issue and it will become Absolute after a further ninety (90) days. This waiting period serves the purpose of allowing parties to change their mind before the divorce becomes final. If the Judgment of Divorce Nisi has issued but not become final yet, and you and your spouse decide you don't want to get divorced, then you can file a Motion to Dismiss and the Judgment will be undone. Although many of my clients who are getting divorced think the idea of getting back together with their ex sounds crazy, I have had cases where this happened. In addition to offering a grace period to change your mind, the Nisi period has three other legal effects: 1. The most obvious effect of the waiting period is that you cannot remarry during the Nisi period, be

New Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines (2021): Big Changes, Little Changes, Typos & some Unexpected Results

UPDATE: The court has released a web calculating version of the 2021 MA Child Support Guidelines Worksheet .  It resolves some of the typos referred to below, but the unexpected calculations still apply. Every four years, per federal mandate, the Massachusetts Probate & Family Court revisits the Child Support Guidelines through the work of a Task Force appointed by the Chief Justice.  The 2021 Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines were recently posted.  They take effect on October 4, 2021.    If you are interested in a training on all of these changes to the new Child Support Guidelines: DMTA Presents the 2021 MA Child Support Guidelines Update  – Attend this event to learn the key updates you need to know for your mediation clients. Presented by Justin Kelsey of  Divorce Mediation Training Associates  and  Skylark Law & Mediation, PC . For a full comparison of all the  tracked changes between the 2018 and 2021 Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines you can download a pdf sho

Does a Criminal Record affect Child Custody?

If one of the parents in a custody case has a criminal record, the types of crimes on their record could have an effect on their chances of obtaining custody. In custody cases the issue is always going to come down to whether or not the best interests of the child might be affected. In the most extreme case, in which one parent has been convicted of first degree murder of the other parent, the law specifically prohibits visitation with the children until they are of a suitable age to assent. Similarly, but to a less serious degree, in making custody and visitation determinations the court will consider crimes that would cause one to question the fitness of a parent. These types of crimes would obviously include any violent crime convictions which could call into question whether the children would be in danger around a parent who has shown themselves to resort to violence when faced with conflict. In addition, drug and alcohol abuse offenses would call into question a parent&#