Child Custody and Child Support
Child custody and child support issues when children are involved are an important component of a divorce for all clients. It is important for each spouse to understand and remember that no matter how stressed a spouse may feel during the pendency of a divorce, your children are going through the divorce with you. It is extremely important for the sake of the children in a divorcing family, that spouses make every effort possible to be respectful of the other and to try to communicate rationally and calmly in front of the children.
Your children love and need both parents. I believe the single most harmful thing you can do for your children is to make them pawns in your divorce. When parents can no longer communicate with each other, the lack of communication usually results in one parent isolating the children from the other parent or a parent making disparaging remarks or comments about the other parent. THIS IS DEVASTING TO A CHILD. Children are resilient and can survive your divorce. Please show them your love by respecting the other parent whom they love.
Divorce: Contested and Uncontested
I am experienced with complex issues in divorce, both contested and un-contested. I negotiate aggressively advocating for you to protect your interest during this stressful time in your life. The approach to each issue during the divorce process needs to be handled on an individual basis to meet my client needs. I understand this and negotiate to this end.
I have, over the years, dealt with numerous divorce lawyers/cases and have developed a style of representation which best serves my clients. My main goal is to resolve issues efficiently and in a timely manner. Issues which have to be reviewed and decided upon prior to reaching an agreement include such items as an equitable division of assets belonging to the parties, medical and dental health care coverage, pension accounts, real estate, personal property, as well as, recent changes in the alimony law.
If there are minor children involved, other issues have to be addressed. These issues include, but are not limited to the following: legal custody, physical custody, parenting schedules (which include weekly parenting time, holidays, vacations, birthdays, etc), child support, tax exemptions for the minor child (ren),medical coverage for the children, uninsured medical costs and college contribution by the parties for the minor child(ren).
The law office provides personalized representation for our clients in both Contested and Uncontested divorce cases. There are two ways for a couple to file for divorce: Contested and Uncontested. In either type of divorce proceeding, each spouse is referred to as a “party” in the case.
In a contested divorce, one spouse (“party”) files a Complaint for Divorce with the Probate and Family Court seeking a divorce from the other spouse. After the Complaint is filed, a Summons is issued by the Court. This Summons is then delivered or “served” (by a constable or sheriff) upon the other spouse (“party”). The Summons reads that the “party”who has been served may file an answer with the Court within twenty (20) calendar days from the date he or she is “served”. Although the served party should file his/her answer within twenty days, if this deadline is missed for good reason, a party can seek permission of the court to file an answer late.
If there are immediate issues that must be decided on a temporary basis such as parenting time, child support, payment/responsibility of payment for living expenses, etc., either party may file what is called a Motion for Temporary Order with the court seeking an order from the court relative to these issues. A hearing on that Motion (request) may be brought before the court, in some cases, as early as seven (7) days after it is filed with the court. The parties and their counsel appear before the court and, after the court has heard from both sides, the court will issue an Order. This Order is issued as a Temporary Order by the court and must be followed by each party until the Order is changed by the court at a later date or after trial.
The first court date that is scheduled by the Court is called a “Pre-Trial Conference.” At the Pre-Trial Conference each side files a Pre-Trial Memorandum with the Court stating, among other things, what the contested issues are in the case. If the parties have not reached an agreement by the time of Pre-Trial, the court will schedule a trial date to hear all the issues either side wishes to have heard. After the trial, the judge issues a final judgment, that Judgment is binding upon both parties and the case is concluded.
In an uncontested divorce, both parties agree that their marriage is over and the parties, file a Joint Petition for Divorce (or “no-fault” divorce). The parties, through their counsel, write a separation agreement (the final contract in a divorce matter) which is filed with the court. If the court finds that the terms of the contract are fair and reasonable (eg, establish custody and parenting schedules in the best interests of the children, child support and/or alimony payments, provisions for health care, college contribution, life insurance, pension plans, division of assets of the parties, etc.), the court will accept the Separation Agreement and the parties divorce will be granted after a hearing with the court. Although clients representing themselves may sometimes have problems with providing an agreement to the court, an agreement drafted through counsel is readily accepted.
The Separation Agreement
The contract for divorce needs to be carefully drawn up and reviewed. It is a binding agreement which controls the issues for years to come. Although all issues relative to minor children are always modifiable by the court upon either party filing a Complaint for Modification, most other issues are not. The terms of a Separation Agreement, unless specific language is inserted by an attorney, are not modifiable and are binding upon the parties forever.