Massachusetts Family Law Regarding Separation

If you and your spouse are thinking it is time for a separation, there are some factors you should consider in order to make sure this is not only the right step for your family but also done in accordance of the law. Before any decisions are made, it would be beneficial to consult a divorce and family law attorney to help you fully understand the legal implications and consequences of filing any official documentation to separate assets.

In the state of Massachusetts, there is no judgement for a true legal separation. However, if one spouse seeks support from another spouse and does not want to file for divorce, he or she can file for a judgement of separate support. This would allow for child support payments to begin as well as alimony.

Because Massachusetts does not provide a way for a legal separation, the process for filing for separate support can be a lengthy and complicated one. The method and burden of proving that the spouse should receive support is not always easy, and if a mistake is made, it could cost you and your family in the long run.

Before deciding that a separation of any kind is in order, both spouses should be confident that this is the right thing to do for the family. Some couples choose marital counseling in order to try everything possible to save the marriage.

If no resolution can be reached to remain together, the next legal step could be a mediation process in order to reach a legal and binding agreement for support. Mediation is often a preferred option as it typically costs less than a court proceeding, and the participants have more options to settle disputes in a respectable way. However, if mediation is chosen, it is a good idea to seek legal representation to protect your interests and your rights.

If you have questions or would like to consider a separation with your spouse, please call our law office to schedule a consultation.

How Child Custody Is Determined Under Massachusetts Law

In Massachusetts, several factors are used to determine child custody between two parents seeking divorce or between unmarried couples who cannot come to custody terms following separation.

Massachusetts law recognizes four different types of custody:

• Sole legal custody
• Shared legal custody
• Sole physical custody
• Shared physical custody

In the first and third statuses, only one parent has the right and responsibility regarding the child’s welfare, including education, medical care, and emotional, moral and religious development. Shared custody allows both parents to make decisions. Physical custody status goes one step further by determining whether children will live with only one or spend time living with both parents in addition to determining who will be responsible for their welfare. [Read more…]