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In our previous post , we explored the problem with the way that most resources (including the court's own website) answer the question "How do I start the divorce process?" Most resources answer this question by telling you which court forms you can file. However, the court forms don't determine how to divide your finances, or where your children will live. The court forms only determine whether you will make those decisions for yourself or ask a Judge to make them for you. Before you decide what forms to file, you need to make a decision about what level of control you want over your own divorce process and major life decisions. If you have children, you also need to consider your communication and relationship goals for co-parenting post-divorce, and which divorce process will best help you meet those goals. Each different process offers different levels of assistance from various types of professionals. Which option is right for you depends on how much he
There is no one-size fits all divorce process and for that reason there are a number of different ways to start a divorce in Massachusetts. This means that you have options! Unfortunately, that is not the same message you will hear from everyone, because who you ask this question to makes a difference in the answers you will receive. Most cases settle, even when they start in litigation. So why do more people start with litigation? You may have heard the story about the woman with back pain who asks her doctor what she should do. The doctor prescribes pain medication and exercise. She wants a second opinion so she visits a surgeon, and the surgeon recommends surgery. She's not ready for surgery so she seeks a third opinion from a chiropractor who tells her that all she needs is regular adjustments. Finally, when she complains to her therapist about not knowing what to do with these differing opinions, her therapist tells her the pain is in her head and she needs to
There are many resources available to help you answer the question "How do I Start the Divorce Process?" Unfortunately, many of them only tell you part of the story. This three part blog series will explore why that is and make an effort to gather all of the information in one place. In Part one we provide you with our answer to this question. In Part two we explore some of the other answers you might receive to this question and explain why they are incomplete. In Part three we provide a more complete answer with an in-depth summary of each divorce process option. How do I Start the Divorce Process? Divorce is a legal, financial and emotional process for ending a marriage. In Massachusetts the legal portion of the divorce is either contested or uncontested. “Uncontested” means that you both agree to the divorce and have reached a full agreement on all legal and financial issues. An uncontested divorce can be filed in Massachusetts using a Joint Petition for
The Probate and Family Court in Massachusetts is underfunded and cannot handle the amount of litigants that seek relief there each year in as timely a manner as everyone would like. The Court staff are not ignoring cases, but there just aren't enough court staff to handle the demand. Because of these issues, the wait time for a hearing in most counties has increased significantly. But finally after months and months of waiting your hearing is finally here. The Judge hears your case and takes the issues under advisement. And now the waiting begins again. How long are you expected to wait for an answer from the Judge? What happens if a decision is never made? Or, even worse, if the decision was made but never recorded due to some clerical error? In the past, our only option when these issues arose was to check in with the Judge's Lobby and find out if one of the Judge's secretaries could discover the delay. Of course, this created more work for the staff, only mak
Yesterday I attended the Massachusetts Collaborative Law Council's 2014 Advanced Training Forum. The attendees included lawyers, coach/facilitators, mental health practitioners, financial neutrals and other professionals who help divorcing couples. There were the usual discussions about finding better ways to help our clients divorce, about finding more clients, and about finding other professionals willing to practice collaboratively. And there was also singing! There was singing! I'm breaking a vow we all took, just by telling you that there was singing. But you need to know. Because this is how Collaborative Practice is different: Collaborative Practice has changed how I see conflict, and that has changed how my clients experience their divorce. I spent the first five years of my career litigating divorce cases in court. I started out idealistic, wanting to help every client reach their goals and find their peace after the divorce. I asked them what their lif
Our last post addressed a recent decision by the Massachusetts Appeals Court to extend attorney's fees liability to opposing counsel on a frivolous appeal. In this post we discuss why was the appeal was considered so frivolous? In Callahan v. Bedard , Case No. 13-P-914, decided on April 23, 2014 ( available here ), the Appeals Court was asked by a father to overturn a lower court's refusal to set aside a Judgment in a paternity case. The father had signed an agreement for settlement that was incorporated into a Judgment by the Probate and Family Court judge, and about six months later changed his mind and asked the Probate & Family Court to undo the Judgment pursuant to Mass.R.Dom.Rel.P. 60(b). While not explicitly stated by the Appeals Court, the fact that the father was trying to back out of a deal he had willingly made certainly weighed against him. In addition to the father's bad faith, though, the Appeals Court directly addressed the issue the father wante