Thanks to the Massachusetts Association of Guardians Ad Litem (MAGAL) for inviting me to speak at their annual conference on November 7 on high-conflict cases in litigation and mediation.  The keynote speaker, Bill Eddy, was terrific.  The title, too, was excellent– “I’m OK, You’re a X$!#@&%!!!: High-Conflict Behavior in Family Law Cases.”

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Divorce is a highly emotional time and when you are going through such a trying life event, practical matters may be far from your mind. But despite the emotional toll, it is important that you consider financial matters – if not for yourself, for the well-being of your loved ones. You will get through this…

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Divorce is a trying time for everyone who goes through it, but each divorce is also different. Whether the couple has been married for a lengthy span, if there are children involved, if the parting is amicable or the separation is wrought with hostility and resentment. With so many unique concerns to consider, there is…

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PC Agreement Held Enforceable. A recent Appeals Court decision held that an agreement to use a parenting coordinator (PC) was enforceable, even where one party does not want to use one anymore. The father had sought the appointment of a new PC after the PC’s initial one-year term ended; the Probate and Family Court judge…

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“Agreed upon Educational Expenses” and the Price of Silence. Because “agreed upon expenses” recurs so frequently in our agreements, this recent case from the Appeals Court should be of great interest. The separation agreement, incorporated into a California divorce judgment and registered in Massachusetts, provided that each party would pay one-half of all agreed-upon educational…

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What standard must a Probate and Family Court use when faced with a modification of a child support order when the case is within the Child Support Guidelines?  The trial judge in this case dismissed the modification complaint because, although the ex-husband’s income had increased, she found there was not a “substantial and material change…

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As mediators and lawyers, we are often confronted with out-of-state divorce judgments.  Since Massachusetts has the most generous emancipation statute in the country, those out-of-state judgments often provide that support ends long before a child’s 23rd birthday, depending on the state.  Steve and Mary Ellen Freddo had four children and were divorced in Florida.  Following…

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Court Must Consider Tax Consequences if Presented.  Under the Internal Revenue Code, alimony cannot be contingent on a child-related event lest it be re-characterized as non-deductible support.  Here, the Probate and Family Court entered a judgment requiring the Father to pay alimony until the youngest child graduated from high school at which point it would…

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A recent SJC opinion made headlines by finding that a California registered domestic partnership was equivalent to a marriage, and that the biological mother and her “partner” were both parents to the child born during their partnership through in vitro fertilization.  The case, too, contains an excellent review of the standards of primary physical custody…

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The Probate Court equalized the incomes of two parents with a child support order.  On the father’s appeal, the Appeals Court affirmed.  On further appellate review, the SJC vacated the support award, holding that “income equalization is inconsistent with principles that inform child support orders in the Commonwealth.” Such orders, said the SJC, should not…

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