MASSACHUSETTS FAMILY LAW

My spouse told me he/she wants a divorce. Do I have to give him/her one?

Unfortunately, in Massachusetts, your spouse will be granted a divorce whether you agree that the marriage is over or not. The terms of the divorce, such as support, custody and division of assets, are not a given and will be decided by the two of you or by a judge, if you cannot agree.

Tell me about your free initial consultation?

In our first meeting, which is free, I will listen carefully to your story and goals. I will give you a summary of what I think you should do, what I think will happen, how much time it will take, and how much money it will cost. I will then suggest you take a day or more to consider your next steps. If you decide to hire me, we will agree on a price and method of payment, sign a fee agreement and get started.

How much will a divorce cost me?

The cost of a divorce depends upon you and your spouse. If it is contested, as opposed to uncontested, it will take more time to negotiate or try the case, and therefore, will cost more money. If you and your spouse can agree on issues, like division of assets and liabilities, on custody and visitation, and on child or spousal support, then it will be less.

It is my intention to charge you as little as I can and still provide you with a satisfactory result. I will charge you a flat fee or I will request a retainer and will then bill you hourly for the services we agreed upon at the beginning of your case. The costs payable to the Court, to sheriffs, investigators, stenographers or appraisers, will depend upon the nature of your case and what needs to be considered for division or resolution.

How long will it take to get divorced in Massachusetts

The length of time it will take to finalize your divorce cannot be predicted because a lot will depend on the behavior of your spouse (and yourself, of course). An uncontested divorce may take a month, a divorce with contested assets or child custody issues can a year or two. If one or both of you is unreasonable or litigious, the case will take longer. Unfortunately, the behavior of the other lawyer can also lengthen the process. I will work to ensure that you receive thorough service without excessive costs.

Can my spouse and I hire the same lawyer?

It is improper and a conflict of interest for the same attorney to represent both spouses, unless the attorney is acting as a divorce mediator. A mediator who acts in this way cannot represent either party. I am a certified divorce mediator.

It is permissible for an attorney to "ghost write" the forms you will need for court. I can help you with preparation of all the forms and documents you will need and can assist you in all the preparation necessary for you and your spouse to represent yourselves.

How does divorce mediation work?

Divorce mediation is usually a more efficient and less expensive way to negotiate a fair resolution of your marital issues. As your impartial divorce mediator, I can help you and your spouse arrive at a fair agreement. Many people have a good idea of their finances and some idea of the law, but not enough to protect themselves. I will explain the legal aspects of divorce. I will ensure you have the financial and legal information necessary to make the best possible settlement suited to your needs. At the end, I will prepare the Divorce Separation Agreement you need to present to the Court, which will become your divorce decree.

How much does divorce mediation cost?

The cost of mediation is based on the hours involved in settling your case, unless we agree on a flat fee. There will be only one fee for both of you, not two fees. The cost of hiring me as a divorce mediator will be substantially less than both of you hiring separate attorneys. My goal as a divorce mediator is to help you save time and money.

How is child support determined?

The amount of child support payable from one parent to the other is determined in accordance with Massachusetts child support guidelines on income. Deviation from the formula is possible. Usually, child support is paid through the Department of Revenue, which provides collection and other services.

How is child custody decided?

The judge will consider what is in the best interest of the children. There are several types of custody, such as legal custody, physical custody and shared custody (and variations of each). Parenting time plans, particularly between the children and the non-custodial parent, are best worked out between the parents. The marriage may end, but the parties will always be the parents of their children.

How is alimony decided?

A new alimony reform law became effective on March 1, 2012. If you are eligible for alimony, the duration of alimony will dependupon the length of the marriage. The law has a formula for general alimony and for other specific types of alimony such as rehabilitative alimony. The law allows for deviation of its formulas. Alimony can be modified, suspended or terminated.

What happens to our health insurance?

Divorce law in Massachusetts allows for minor children to remain on a parent's existing health insurance plan. The divorced spouse may also remain on the plan, at no extra cost, until such time as the insured spouse remarries. At that time, the divorced spouse may continue on the plan, but it is usually specified that the divorced spouse will pay for the additional cost.

This statute, G.L. c. 175, 110I, does not apply if the employer is a self-insurer. In that case, the federal COBRA regulations apply. They provide short-term coverage, usually 18 months, at an immediate and substantial cost to the divorced spouse. If alimony is awarded, judges must also require that the obligor obtain or reimburse the spouse for the cost of health insurance, without reducing the alimony award. (Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 208, 34.)

ESTATE PLANNING

What is the difference between a Revocable and an Irrevocable Trust?

A Revocable Trust can be changed at any time until a designated event occurs, usually one's death. An Irrevocable Trust cannot be changed once it has been created.

If I set up a Trust is a Last Will also required?

Yes. A Will, called a "pour over" Will, is drafted in conjunction with your Trust. If you fail to transfer all your assets into the Trust, the Will picks up those assets at the time of your death and transfers them into your Trust. All assets "poured into" your Trust by your Will must go through the probate process first.

Does joint tenancy avoid probate?

No. Joint tenancy does not avoid probate upon the death of the last owner. For instance, if you and your spouse own your house as joint tenants and you die, the house passes to your spouse free of probate. However, when your spouse dies, or if you and your spouse die simultaneously, the property will be subject to probate because there is no surviving joint tenant. If the house is placed in a Living Trust, there will be no probate at either death.

Contact the Fall River Law Firm of Wilfred C. Driscoll, Jr. I look forward to assisting you with all your legal needs. Call 508-689-4106 or email the Law Offices of Wilfred C. Driscoll, Jr. to schedule a free initial consultation. I offer payment plans and flat-fee pricing for some legal matters.

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The Quincy, Massachusetts, Attorney Wilfred C. Driscoll, Jr., represents clients across Bristol County, Plymouth County, Norfolk County, Barnstable County, as well as the communities of Somerset, Swansea, Seekonk, Fall River, Dighton, New Bedford, Dartmouth, Taunton, Raynham, Attleboro, Bridgewater, Fairhaven, Dartmouth, Brockton, Franklin and throughout Southeastern Massachusetts.

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OFFICE LOCATIONS:

Fall River Law Office
Law Offices of Wilfred C. Driscoll, Jr.
209 Bedford Street, Suite 201
Fall River, MA 02720
Local:508-689-4106
Fax: (508) 672-4322
Cell:(508) 259-8400
Office Email: wcdriscoll at gmail.com


Quincy Law Office
Law Offices of Wilfred C. Driscoll, Jr.
One Adams Place
859 Willard Street, Suite 400
Quincy, MA 02169
Local:(617) 302-6870
Fax:(508) 672-4322
Cell:(508) 259-8400
Office Email: wcdriscoll at gmail.com