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Showing posts from April, 2016

4 Common but Incorrect Assumptions about Legal Custody in Massachusetts: What Does Legal Custody Really Mean?

Guest Post Series: Attorney Nicole K. Levy of Stevenson, Lynch & Owens Explores Massachusetts Law in Search of a Clear Definition for "legal custody" in Massachusetts.

There are few family law issues in Massachusetts that inspire more head-scratching confusion and incorrect assumptions than "legal custody". Unlike physical custody, legal custody is an abstract idea that purports to embody a parent’s right to participate in a child's major life decisions. In this blog series we examine four common assumptions about legal custody in Massachusetts and attempt to answer the question: what has a parent who has been awarded legal custody really received?

See how we addressed each Assumption:

Assumption 1 – Access to School & Medical Records

Assumption 2 – Consent to Medical Treatment

Assumption 3 – The Shared Custody “Veto Power”

Assumption 4 – Presumption of Shared Legal Custody

What do Massachusetts Appellate Court Decisions Really say about Legal Custody? 

The …

5 Things you Should Include in a Divorce Agreement when Dividing Retirement Accounts

In a divorce, the court has the ability to order the division of retirement accounts, as a one-time non-taxable event, transferring a portion of the account from one spouse to the other. Whether or not all or part of a retirement account is divided depends on the rules of that jurisdiction and the facts of each case.  In this article we're not dealing with that determination but assuming there has been an agreement or order to divide an account.  Now what?

How the account is divided, and whether a QDRO or some other specialized order is required, depends on the type of account.  Regardless of the type of account, however, there are five basic pieces of information that a Plan Administrator or QDRO drafter will need in order to properly divide the account.  When drafting a Divorce Agreement or proposed Judgment it is best practice to include these five elements:

Identify the Plan Information Clearly - It may seem obvious, but the Agreement or Judgment must sufficiently identify the…

I've hired a Lawyer, do I need a Mediator too?

In response to our recent article, I'm in Mediation, do I need a Lawyer too?, mediator Stephen G. Anderson asked on twitter:

We though this was a great question, so here you go Stephen:

I've hired a Lawyer, do I need a Mediator too?
Even though many mediators are lawyers, mediators perform a very different service than lawyers.  One of the first things I tell my mediation clients is that, although I have a base of legal knowledge to draw from when assisting them, I am not acting as their lawyer when I am mediating.  But if you already have a lawyer, would you want a mediator too?  If you want to resolve your dispute privately, with less cost, and more control, then the answer is quite simply: YES.

Because the mediator role is different than the role that your lawyer serves there are numerous benefits to hiring a mediator to work with you and your lawyers, and some risks as well.  Below is a summary of the pros and cons:

Benefits of Hiring a Mediator to Assist with Your Case:

Pri…

4 Common but Incorrect Assumptions about Legal Custody in Massachusetts: Assumption 4 – Presumption of Shared Legal Custody

Guest Post Series: Attorney Nicole K. Levy of Stevenson, Lynch & Owens Explores Massachusetts Law in Search of a Clear Definition for "legal custody" in Massachusetts.

There are few family law issues in Massachusetts that inspire more head-scratching confusion and incorrect assumptions than "legal custody". Unlike physical custody, legal custody is an abstract idea that purports to embody a parent’s right to participate in a child's major life decisions. In this blog series we examine four common assumptions about legal custody in Massachusetts and attempt to answer the question: what has a parent who has been awarded legal custody really received?

Assumption 4. Shared Legal Custody is Presumptive 

Finally, an assumption about legal custody in Massachusetts that is supported by some law! The Massachusetts divorce statute does indeed make shared legal custody for married parents presumptive at the temporary order stage:
[U]ntil a judgment on the merits is ren…

4 Common but Incorrect Assumptions about Legal Custody in Massachusetts: Assumption 3 – The Shared Custody “Veto Power”

Guest Post Series: Attorney Nicole K. Levy of Stevenson, Lynch & Owens Explores Massachusetts Law in Search of a Clear Definition for "legal custody" in Massachusetts.

There are few family law issues in Massachusetts that inspire more head-scratching confusion and incorrect assumptions than "legal custody". Unlike physical custody, legal custody is an abstract idea that purports to embody a parent’s right to participate in a child's major life decisions. In this blog series we examine four common assumptions about legal custody in Massachusetts and attempt to answer the question: what has a parent who has been awarded legal custody really received?


Assumption 3: A Parent with Shared Legal Custody can “Veto” the Major Educational, Medical and/or Religious Decisions of the Other Parent

Many parents believe that shared legal custody provides a kind of "veto power" over major decisions the other parent makes on behalf of a child. Such a maximalist inte…

Walking, Talking & Mediating

One of the advantages of mediation is the flexibility of the mediation process.  For those people whose conflict includes multiple issues, as is often the case in divorce mediation, skilled mediators can adapt and assist with communication, goal-setting, problem-solving, and in some instances even transformation of a relationship.
To allow the mediation process to adapt in this way we sometimes have to look at options for meeting that are unconventional to help people see their issues in a new light.  At Skylark Law & Mediation, we have two conference rooms that are very different for exactly this purpose.  
One conference room is more business-like and is more appropriate for discussing financial and legal issues.  Our other conference room is more casual, including pictures of my children on the walls.  I find that clients usually feel this setting is more comfortable for discussing parenting disagreements, or communication issues.

Meeting only in conference rooms, however, can …