Family Law Services
Families may find they need legal help in sorting through a myriad of issues they encounter over the course of time. Whether it is custody, mediation, divorce, pension division, visitation, child support, minor children born out of wedlock, relocation, substance abuse issues, neglect, domestic violence, abuse, guardianship of a minor, grandparents rights and juvenile matters, these issues are of utmost importance. They should be addressed with care and we can assist you whether you live in Massachusetts or Rhode Island.
If you are going to be married or remarried and have already amassed substantial assets a Prenuptial Agreement may be appropriate for you to ensure that disposition of your existing assets is memorialized in writing.
If you have a child or children and are not married, we will help you obtain an order from the Court establishing custody, visitation, support and home state of the minor child.
In the unfortunate event your marriage relationship with your spouse has deteriorated such that divorce is being contemplated, it is important to know and understand your rights as you face this emotional challenge. Whether you elect to first engage in the mediation process or elect to proceed directly to Court, we can assist you through the process of division of marital assets and liabilities and in securing your portion of the marital estate, including real property and personal property transfers.
Mediation is a collaborative effort facilitated by our trained mediator between you and your spouse. Ultimately you decide matters of child custody, visitation, support, the division of your marital assets and liabilities. If you can reach consensus on all issues, a Memorandum of Understanding is drafted. Legal proceedings for an uncontested or “nominal” divorce are begun. With all issues settled, you have one short hearing to attest to the terms of your agreement and if approved by the Court, your divorce will be finalized based on those terms.
Contested divorces can be very difficult and stressful. The process often involves a high level of animosity resulting in protracted and complex legal proceedings. This process will frequently include discovery if the extent of assets/liabilities is unknown. If there are children involved counseling services may be necessary. Multiple Court appearances are required to reach a resolution of all issues.
Pensions are often one of the most valuable assets of a marriage. An equitable portion of pension benefits earned by one spouse is often awarded to the other spouse. Pension division is accomplished through Qualified Domestic Relations Orders or, in the case of the Military employment, Pension Benefit Orders. Depending on the plan, pensions are divisible and may be rolled into a separate qualified retirement account, which may or may not include survivor benefits, cost of living increases, and other benefits. There may also be secondary pension plans that are divisible. Any associated costs for additional benefits, such as survivor benefits, should be addressed in the Order. If you are contemplating divorce it is important that you secure your rights to these benefits for your future.
Where there are minor children, a Guardian ad Litem (GAL), who is often a practicing attorney, may be chosen by the parties, the parties’ counsel or appointed by the Court to provide a neutral recommendation for specific issues such as custody, visitation, relocation and support. A Guardian may interview the parties and any other persons the Guardian deems appropriate to the case. Based on their circumstances and best interests of the children the Guardian reports to the Court and is often helpful in resolving difficult impasses.
When these complexities of life are encountered, it is best to know your legal rights. Please contact us so that we may assess your case with you.