It’s important to find a lawyer that’s right for you. Although there are still some “general practice” attorneys, most attorneys and firms concentrate their practices in one or more fields of law.  Not every lawyer is proficient in every area of law.  Much like the medical profession, you probably wouldn’t see a podiatrist for a problem with your heart, and you probably shouldn’t see a medical malpractice lawyer for a divorce. 

Ryan Faenza Carey concentrates its practice in divorce and family law, real estate, and some probate and business matters. If we can’t help you, we will help you find someone who can help you.  We consider it part of our responsibility to help clients calling about other types of law outside our fields of expertise to connect with an attorney outside our firm who we believe would serve them well.  Frankly, it is easier for us as attorneys to utilize our network of colleagues to make a referral to another lawyer or lawyers than it is for clients to find an appropriate attorney themselves.

In making a referral to an attorney outside our firm, we take into consideration:

  • The client’s legal needs
  • The reputation, skill and specialized field(s) of the attorney as one that would meet the client’s needs
  • The personalities/style of the client and the referral attorney
  • Geographic considerations (where the client lives and where the attorney practices)
  • Budgetary considerations
  • Any other requirements/requests that the clientmay have

Call Ryan Faenza Carey for assistance, whether you need the assistance of one of our seven attorneys,or an attorney outside our areas of expertise. We would be happy to  guide you.

Signing your name to just about any document relative to a divorce or family law case matters.  The public oftentimes expects that they can argue ignorance, duress or lack of representation later on.  Unfortunately, your signature can create a binding, contractual obligation for you.  If you have regrets later on, you may have little to no recourse to “undo” your signature, much less what you’ve obligated yourself to.

         The best advice we at Ryan Faenza Carey can offer is this:  When in doubt, don’t.  If you have any hesitation, err on the sign of caution.  If you feel pressured or don’t understand what you’re signing, put the pen down.

         Before you sign, ask questions, educate yourself and seek counsel.  Don’t ever sign something based upon the representations or promises of others, especially if those representations or promises are not contained in the document you’ve been asked to sign.  Read every word, line and paragraph of the document. 

         If you have questions or need something clarified, contact an independent attorney to review the document for you and with you.  Make sure your attorney explains to you the meaning, significance and implications of the document you are considering signing in a way that you understand. 

Federal regulations mandate each state review child support guidelines at least every four years. In September 2017, Massachusetts enacted new child support guidelines after a review. However, the Trial Court has worked to alleviate several issues outstanding from these revised guidelines by amending the 2017 guidelines, as well as completely overhauling the child support guidelines worksheet in June 2018.

Here’s a breakdown of what has changed, and the still-remaining issues that could be addressed in future amendments.

What’s New?

The 2018 child support guidelines give a credit for the amount of medical, dental and/or vision insurance or child care costs to the party who pays these expenses (rather than 

just a deduction from their total income).

Prior to the June 2018 amendment, there was a problem of “double counting” the credit that a party receives for paying insurance or child care, in a shared physical custody arrangement. Prior to the June 2018 amendment, to calculate child support for a 50/50 parenting plan, the court

calculated the guidelines with each parent as the custodial parent and the net amount would become the child support payment. The challenge with running the 2017 guidelines twice was that the party who pays the insurance or child care would receive twice the credit. The June 2018 child support guidelines alleviate the necessity to run the child support guidelines twice, therefore preventing the issue of double counting any insurance or child care credit.

Child support calculated differently for families with children over the age of 18, and additional children under the age of 18.

The September 2017 child support guidelines reduced support orders for children over the age of 18. However, the chart included in the 2017 child support guidelines resulted in some puzzling results for any families of four or more children, where at least one of the children was over the age of 18, effectively awarding a greater amount of child support to a party who has custody of just three children under the age of 18, than to a party who has custody of three children under the age 18 and at least one child over the age of 18. The June 2018 child support guidelines stated, in a comment, an attempt to “fully preserve the increases in child support for additional younger children,” as reason for amending the way child support is calculated.

What Changes Could be Next?

While the new Massachusetts child support guidelines are utilized in the majority of custody cases, there are still several issues with the guidelines that have not been addressed by the Trial Court, causing some inconsistencies in rulings among Judges. These issues could be up for review next time the child support guidelines are amended.

  • The child support guidelines only calculates orders at a combined total income of $250,000 between the parties.   Any income above and beyond the combined $250,000 is to be addressed at the discretion of the Judge. The Trial Court has yet to address a uniform method for handling such an overage when calculating the child support guidelines.
  • The new child support guidelines deal with different custody arrangements: primary custody of all children to one parent, each parent having primary custody of one or more child, and joint physical custody of the children. However, there is no method set forth regarding how to calculate child support when the parties have multiple children and to which the parties share physical custody of one or more children, and one or the other of the parents has primary physical custody of at least one child. Under such a parenting plan, there are no instructions as to how to calculate the child support guidelines.
  • The child support guidelines remain silent on whether or not child support should be reduced in one or both parents are contributing toward college, and if so, what the formula should be for such a reduction.

If you are involved in any legal matters involving the issues of custody and child support it is important that you speak with an attorney who specializes in the field of domestic relations law to ensure that all of your rights are preserved. Contact us today so we can help.

To read the full Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines, visit https://www.mass.gov/info-details/child-support-guidelines. 

Parties to a divorce often have difficulty filing for divorce under no fault grounds (Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage), particularly if they feel wronged in one way or another by their soon to be ex-spouse. Filing a divorce under irretrievable breakdown is not an admission that there was no wrongdoing on the part of the other spouse, or that the other party should not be penalized in some manner when it comes to the division of the marital assets. Filing under irretrievable breakdown simply means the marriage is over for one or both of the parties and neither party’s conduct was so extreme as to warrant filing for divorce using one of the available fault-based grounds. The majority of divorces in Massachusetts do not contain fact patterns which warrant or require the filing of a Complaint for Divorce on fault-based grounds.

In addition to Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, the following fault-based grounds are available for a party to allege in filing for divorce:

  • Adultery;
  • Impotency;
  • Desertion of at least one (1) year;
  • Gross and confirmed habits of intoxication;
  • Cruel and abusive treatment;
  • Grossly or wantonly and cruelly refusing or neglecting to provide suitable support and maintenance; or
  • Imprisonment of more than five (5) years.

Unlike filing under the grounds of irretrievable breakdown (no fault), the Court may not grant a Divorce when a Complaint is filed using one of the above referenced “fault based” grounds. Filing for divorce under “fault” based grounds requires the moving party to prove to the court that all of the elements of the particular grounds are met.

If you are considering filing for divorce, whether under fault-based grounds or under the grounds of an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage you should consult with an attorney who concentrates in divorce and family law prior to filing.

Divorce is messy, overwhelming, scary, and hard. A qualified attorney can help clients navigate the process, but the most successful divorces occur when clients help themselves. Here are the things we strongly recommend to anyone facing or currently undergoing a divorce. We are certain it relieves the burden-both long and short term- of this major life event.

  1. Engage an attorney you trust, tell your attorney the truth about everything, and follow his/her instructions and recommendations.
  1. Understand that divorce is a process and does take time; buckle up for the ride and resist the urge to “just get it over with.”
  1. Leave your kids out of it—protect them, nurture their relationship with you and with your soon to be ex and take the high road in all respects—parent them first.
  1. Be reasonable. Spending $100 in legal fees to chase $50 is a waste of your time. Be willing to cut your losses where it is practical to do so. Don’t go to trial or fight endlessly over something for which you have a low likelihood of success.
  1. Decide what matters most, and negotiate your divorce agreement according to those priorities.
  1. Have reasonable expectations. In a good divorce, BOTH parties walk away unhappy. You will not get everything you want. Be prepared to compromise.
  1. Reach an agreement before appearing before a judge, if at all possible. Even a bad agreement is better than a good trial. You and your spouse, with the help of competent attorneys, are in the best position to negotiate a divorce agreement that is tailor made to your family. You will not have that luxury with a Judge.
  1. Be civil, and don’t burn your bridges. Ultimately the best thing for you, your soon to be ex and your children is for you and your soon to be ex to communicate and be able to deal civilly with one another. The investment you make in having a civil relationship will come back to you a hundred-fold in the future.  Don’t make anyone the bad guy—even if they deserve it. Civility is a huge investment in reaching resolution and staying out of Court both now, and in the future.

If you’re facing a divorce and in need of legal support, contact RFC today.