You are hereFamily Law

Family Law


SOMEONE YOU CAN COUNT ON IN TOUGH TIMES.

Here at Alphen, & Santos, P.C. our goal is to be zealous advocates for our clients and to provide attentive and responsive service.  We provide legal representation in Family and Probate Court.  

 

 

 

Family Law covers a variety of matters, including but not limited to the following:

  1. Divorce
  2. Alimony
  3. Custody and visitation
  4. Child support
  5. Modification and contempt
  6. Property settlement
  7. Prenuptial agreement

DIVORCE OR COMPLAINT FOR SEPARATE SUPPORT

The first step in a divorce is to file the appropriate petition with the proper court having subject matter jurisdiction over the divorce.  Subject matter jurisdiction means that the parties must fulfill the requirements of residency and domicile within the state or county where they are filing for divorce.  This threshold must be met in order for the court to have the authority to execute an order for separate support, dissolution or divorce.  

ALIMONY

In some situations alimony (a/k/a spousal support) may be available.  Alimony is based on a number of factors in regards to your life during marriage.  The judge will look at a number of factors in determining whether or not you should receive alimony and the amount.  The following is a list of some factors that the court will consider in determining alimony:

  1. Length of the Marriage
  2. Conduct of the spouse during the marriage
  3. Age, health, occupation, and income of the parties
  4. Needs and responsibility of each spouse
  5. Cost of health insurance coverage

Either the wife or husband may be eligible for alimony based on the above factors. 

CUSTODY AND VISITATION

Two of the most important issues in a divorce are custody and visitation.  Custody is based on the best interests of the child and who will be the more suitable parent.  Please keep in mind, that custody and visitation are not based on gender.  Custody involves two types of custody, physical and legal custody.  Physical custody is where the child will reside.  Legal Custody has to do with who will make the major legal decisions regarding the child(ren) such as education, religion, social, and medical issues.  If physical and legal custody are contested, the court may decide to appoint a GAL (Guardian Ad Litem) or request that the family probation office conduct an investigation.

Custody matters can be a serious legal issue if one parent wants to move out of state.  Then that parent must ask the court for permission to move out of state.  In such a situation the court will look at the best interests of the child and the totality of the circumstances.  

In most situations, the court will grant reasonable visitation rights to the noncustodial parent. The court looks at the best interests of the child and in some situations may even grant visitation to a grandparent or de-facto parent.

CHILD SUPPORT

In Massachusetts, the court uses a set of guidelines called the CHILD SUPPORT GUIDELINES to determine the amount of child support that the noncustodial parent must pay to the custodial parent on behalf of the minor child(ren).

Under the current guidelines there are a number of factors that may affect the amount of child support that is paid by the non-custodial parent.  The following are some of the factors:

  1. Income of the parties
  2. Number of children
  3. Ages of the children
  4. Day care costs
  5. Health care costs 

MODIFICATION AND CONTEMPT

In certain situations the court may consider a modification to a prior judgment that it has issued based on a significant change in circumstances.  In order for the court to consider a modification to child support, custody, visitation, or alimony there must be a substantial change in circumstances.  For example, a parent’s financial situation may change.

In a situation where one of the parties has violated or not followed a court order, then the other party can file for contempt and bring the other Party into court to enforce the court order.

PROPERTY SETTLEMENT

In most divorce situations, the parties will have to decide on the settlement of the marital property.  Marital property may include but is not limited to the following:

  1. Marital home
  2. Savings and checking accounts
  3. Vacation property
  4. Value of the family business
  5. Retirement funds such as 401(K), IRA, and pensions
  6. Acquired marital debt

In most situations, the parties will agree as to how the property shall be divided and whether the marital home will be sold.  If the parties cannot come to an agreement, the court will equitably divide the marital property.   More often than not it is 50/50 but that is not the case in all circumstances.  The judge will take into account a number of factors in making his/her decision.

PRE-NUPTIAL AGREEMENTS

A pre-nuptial agreement may be necessary where the parties or a party are bringing substantial assets into a marriage and they would like to protect those assets.

RESOURCES

  1. Probate and Family Court
  2. Child Support Enforcement
  3. Financial Statement - Short Form
  4. Financial Statement - Long Form
  5. Child Support Guide