I’ve Been Served with Divorce Papers…Now What?

If your spouse has filed for divorce in the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court, you have several options as to the next steps to take in the case. Consider the following options:

  • You may file an Answer to your spouse’s Complaint.

Your Answer is the official responsive pleading to your spouse’s allegations in his or her Complaint. In this document, you admit or deny each of the statements contained in the plaintiff’s Complaint.
According to the Massachusetts Rules of Domestic Relations Procedure, the defendant in his or her Answer “shall state in short and plain terms his defenses to such claim asserted and shall admit or deny the averments upon which the adverse party relies. If he is without knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of an averment, he shall so state and this has the effect of a denial.”
Under most circumstances, your Answer will be due 20 days from the date of service of process.
In your Answer, you may include affirmative defenses
Affirmative defenses include “accord and satisfaction, arbitration and award, assumption of risk, contributory negligence, discharge in bankruptcy, duress, estoppel, failure of consideration, fraud, illegality, injury by fellow servant, laches, license, payment, release, res judicata, statute of frauds, statute of limitations, waiver, and any other matter constituting an avoidance or affirmative defense.”

  • Under some circumstances, you may file a motion to dismiss.

Under Rule 12, this motion asks the Court to dismiss the claims against you. In a divorce claim, a motion may be filed for several reasons, including:
1. Lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter;
2. Lack of jurisdiction over the person;
3. Improper venue;
4. Insufficiency of process;
5. Insufficiency of service of process;
6. Failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted;
7. Failure to join a party under Rule 19;
8. Misnomer of a party;
9. Pendency of a prior action in a court of the Commonwealth.

For example, under the Rules, you may file a motion to dismiss if your domicile is disputed, if service of process was improper, or if there is a prior divorce claim already in effect. The documents you will need to file typically include: the motion, which asks the Court to dismiss the claim; a memorandum of law which serves as the legal support for your motion; and an affidavit where you include key facts in support of your motion, signed under oath and under the pains and penalties of perjury.
You should file any motions to dismiss prior to filing your Answer or any other responsive pleading.

  • You may file a counterclaim or a cross-complaint

A counterclaim is the defendant’s claim against the plaintiff. You may file a counterclaim in your Answer; if you designate it as a counterclaim, no entry fee should be due. Your counterclaim should allow you to bring up claims for divorce, spousal support, property division, custody, and child support, among others.

In the alternative, you may choose to omit counterclaims and instead file a cross-complaint for divorce. According to the Rules, “In a contested action for divorce if the defendant upon payment of the proper entry fee and at any time prior to the conclusion of the hearing shall cause to be entered his or her cross-complaint for divorce, the court shall allow the entry of said cross-complaint after giving of such notice or service to the new defendant as the court, in its discretion, shall order.”

If you have any questions about issues of divorce, custody, or support, you may schedule a free consultation with our office. Call 978-225-9030 during regular business hours or complete our contact form online, and we will get back to you at our earliest opportunity.

Requesting a Stay Under the Federal Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act: Recent Case Law

When it comes to a divorce action between spouses where one or both spouses is a member of the military, certain specific procedural rules apply. In particular, the Federal Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act provides that a person on active military duty is entitled to a continuance of any action, including a divorce or custody action, upon showing that the party is prevented from appearing in court due to military service.

In a recent case, the Massachusetts Appeals Court considered the argument of a husband who claimed his rights under the SCRA were violated when the Probate and Family Court failed to issue him a continuance on several hearing dates related to his divorce, custody, and support issues. In Fazio v. Fazio, the husband sought a stay of a hearing by faxing a letter to the court the day before the hearing was to take place. The letter, written by the husband’s commanding officer, stated that the husband’s unit would be conducting pre-deployment training which would last approximately a year, and requested that all hearings be postponed as a result. The judge, expressing frustration with the last-minute request, declined to extend a stay of the hearing. The husband appealed.

The Appeals Court agreed with the trial judge, noting that the requirements for an adequate request under the SCRA were not met. “The commanding officer’s communication provided no details about the husband’s predeployment training and did not explain how the requirements of the training mission prevented the husband from taking part of one day to attend a court hearing,” the Court noted. “Nor did the commanding officer state that the husband could not obtain leave to appear at the hearing at any time during the two months prior to mobilization.” Because the husband’s requests were inadequate, the trial judge was correct in not granting the stays.

Moreover, the Appeals Court reviewed the temporary orders which were granted by the trial court. While the Appeals Court held that the temporary child support orders deviated from the guidelines and were therefore an abuse of discretion, the Court affirmed the judge’s division of marital property, which had given approximately two-thirds of the property to the wife. “[T]he judge found that the parties contributed equally to creation of the marital estate prior to separation, but that the wife ‘played a far more significant role in the preservation of the estate’ after the separation,” the Court stated. “The judge’s subsidiary findings, which the husband does not challenge, support her rationale. Reversal of the property division is not warranted.”

If you have any questions about issues of divorce, custody, or support, you may schedule a free consultation with our office. Call 978-225-9030 during regular business hours or complete our contact form online, and we will get back to you at our earliest opportunity.

Expunging a Protective Order: New Case Law

Once a protective order is issued, under what circumstances might that order be expunged by the court? This question was recently addressed by the Massachusetts Appeals Court.

The case of J.S.H. v. J.S. involved a protective order of harassment prevention which was issued under Massachusetts General Laws, chapter 258E. The plaintiff who sought the order was president of a religious non-profit organization which ran a support group for victims of domestic violence. The defendant was the husband of one of the women who attended the group. The plaintiff claimed in her supporting affidavit that the defendant wrote to board members of her organization, seeking to discredit her, and that he also sent her multiple harassing emails. No letters or emails were included with the plaintiff’s affidavit. The trial court granted an order of protection. Upon expiration of the order, the plaintiff sought to extend it, and she submitted copies of a letter and two emails which the defendant had sent to the organization’s board. The trial court declined to extend the order.

Nearly a year later, the defendant sought to expunge all evidence of the order of protection. The defendant claimed that the plaintiff had committed fraud on the court in obtaining the original protective order, because she indicated that he had sent her emails directly. The court declined to expunge the records, and on appeal, the Appeals Court agreed.

“Chapters 209A and 258E are particularly similar in their treatment of records following the issuance of an order, as well
as after an order is vacated. Under both statues, once a judge issues an order, the order and supporting papers are transmitted to the appropriate law enforcement agency,” the Court explained. Under both statues, once an order is vacated, the court sends written notification to the appropriate law enforcement agency directing it to destroy its records of the vacated order…However, there is no explicit statutory authority regarding the expungement of records of c. 209A or c. 258E orders from any Statewide registry maintained by the commissioner.”

In order for an expungement order to be appropriate, the Court noted, the petitioner must be able to prove that the original abuse protection order was obtained through fraud on the court. Citing a previous case precedent, the Court explained that “[a] ‘fraud on the court’ occurs where it can be demonstrated, clearly and convincingly, that a party has sentiently set in motion some unconscionable scheme calculated to interfere with the judicial system’s ability impartially to adjudicate a matter by improperly influencing the trier or unfairly hampering the presentation of the opposing party’s claim or defense.”

In the case at hand, the Court said, nothing suggested that the plaintiff fabricated her story or was motivated by a deceptive scheme. Something more serious and egregious is required to find fraud on the court than stated in this case, the Court noted, affirming the decision not to expunge the records.

If you have any questions about issues of divorce, custody, or support, you may schedule a free consultation with our office. Call 978-225-9030 during regular business hours or complete our contact form online, and we will get back to you at our earliest opportunity.

Acknowledgment of Paternity: How Does It Work?

Larry and Lakshmi are the parents of Tom, a child who was born out of wedlock. Larry wants to acknowledge that he is Tom’s father. What steps does Larry need to take to acknowledge paternity in Massachusetts?

The most common method of establishing parentage is by a process called voluntary acknowledgment of paternity. If no acknowledgement of paternity takes place, then a complaint may be brought under M.G.L. c. 209C seeking adjudication of parentage.

According to the law, acknowledgment forms must be in writing; they “shall be acknowledged in the presence of a notary public and shall include the residence addresses and social security numbers of each of the parents, the residence address of the child and, if available, the social security number of the child.” The acknowledgment forms must be filed with the court or with the register of vital statistics. An acknowledgment form which is duly executed and filed under the statute will be considered a valid basis for actions regarding custody and support issues. Upon filing the acknowledgment, however, the parties may also file with the court an agreement as to custody and support.

The statute provides a 60-day period by which either party may rescind the acknowledgment. After the 60-day period expires, the acknowledgment may only be contested on the basis of fraud, duress, or material mistake, and the action must be brought within one year from executing the acknowledgment of paternity.

In an important case, the father of a child had filed an acknowledgment of paternity in 1993, after a case was filed against him by the Department of Revenue. The father agreed to pay child support as well. He did not initially ask to undergo genetic testing to prove that he was the biological father of the child. He acted as the child’s father for the following years and paid support. Fast forward to 1999: the Department filed a new action against the father, seeking to increase the weekly support amount. The father at that point sought an order for genetic testing from the Court, claiming that he felt he was not the child’s father. The trial court denied that request. Unbeknownst to the mother, the father then took the daughter for genetic testing on his own, and the tests showed that he was not the child’s biological father. Subsequently, he moved to relinquish his child support obligation and also sought retroactive damages for the support payments he had made in the past. The trial court held that the father was entitled to relief going forward, but not retroactively.

On appeal, the Supreme Judicial Court held that the father was not entitled to relief, as he waited too long to contest paternity. “There is a compelling public interest in the finality of paternity judgments,” the Court reasoned. “[W]e conclude that, as a consequence of the father’s long delay before he challenged the paternity judgment, Cheryl’s interests now outweigh any interest of his…Our conclusion is consistent with our prior jurisprudence, and the decisions of numerous other courts, that a father’s challenge to a paternity judgment may be untimely even though he may establish conclusively that he is not a child’s genetic parent.”

If you have any questions about issues of divorce, custody, or support, you may schedule a free consultation with our office. Call 978-225-9030 during regular business hours or complete our contact form online, and we will get back to you at our earliest opportunity.

Criminal Penalties for Abandoning a Spouse or Minor Child in Massachusetts

Under what circumstances do criminal charges apply to a person who willfully or negligently refuses to take care of an immediate family member, such as a spouse, child, or parent? Several Massachusetts statutes are applicable to this question.

 
First, Massachusetts makes it a felony for a party to abandon a spouse or child under the following circumstances:

 
(1) he abandons his spouse or minor child without making reasonable provisions for the support of his spouse or minor child or both of them; or

 
(2) he leaves the commonwealth and goes into another state without making reasonable provisions for the support of his spouse or minor child or both of them; or

(3) he enters the commonwealth from another state without making reasonable provisions for the support of his spouse or minor child, or both of them, domiciled in another state; or

(4) wilfully and while having the financial ability or earning capacity to have complied, he fails to comply with an order or judgment for support…

 
Another Massachusetts statute applies the above circumstances specifically to cases where a party abandons or fails to support a child born out of wedlock. For all of the above, the state provides for criminal penalties, including jail time which may range as high as ten years in state prison under some circumstances. The penalties are laid out in Massachusetts General Laws, chapter 273, section 15A. Of course, other issues also might arise—civil complaints for non-support or contempt, for example, by the other spouse or other parent, as well as actions brought by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, which has standing to enforce child support orders.

 
Furthermore, Massachusetts has in place a “filial statute,” which makes it a crime for a party to neglect a parent under some circumstances. The law notes: “Any person, over eighteen, who, being possessed of sufficient means, unreasonably neglects or refuses to provide for the support and maintenance of his parent, whether father or mother, residing in the commonwealth, when such parent through misfortune and without fault of his own is destitute of means of sustenance and unable by reason of old age, infirmity, illness to support and maintain himself, shall be punished by a fine of not more than two hundred dollars or by imprisonment for not more than one year, or both.” The statute does make exceptions for adult children whose parent failed to support the child during his or her minority—in other words, one does not have to support a parent who had abandoned him or her during childhood. Also, the statute notes that it is not considered neglect for a party, who is one of two or more children, to provide proper and reasonable contribution towards the support of the parent.

 
If you have any questions about issues of divorce, custody, or support, you may schedule a free consultation with our office. Call 978-225-9030 during regular business hours or complete our contact form online, and we will get back to you at our earliest opportunity.

Measuring the Start of the Durational Period for Alimony

The durational period for alimony is the length of time for which alimony payments will be ordered by the court. In a situation where alimony is awarded years after a divorce decree is entered, what is the starting point for the durational period of those alimony payments? Does the durational period begin to run at the time of divorce, or at the time of the alimony order? If there is a temporary alimony order, does the date of the first temporary payment affect the durational period?

This has become an important issue in recent years, as Massachusetts no longer recognizes lifetime alimony in most cases—therefore, the duration of alimony payments must be closely looked at under most circumstances.

In the recent case of Snow v. Snow, [1] the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court addressed this issue. In that case, the wife did not pursue her alimony claim during the divorce proceedings, but she sought an alimony order more than four years after the divorce was final. The wife explained that circumstances had changed: the husband had been supporting her with weekly payments of $1,000 but stopped making them. The wife became homeless and was living out of her car. She filed a request for alimony and received an order of temporary alimony in the amount of $850 per week. Approximately four months later, she received an order of general alimony in the amount of $810 per week, to be paid for the duration of 179 months. The judge noted that the start date for the durational period was the date of the first temporary alimony payment. Both parties appealed.

Transferring the case on its own, the Supreme Judicial Court held that the durational period for former wife’s general term alimony began to run on the award of general term alimony, and not on the date of the divorce judgment nor the date of the award of temporary alimony. Temporary alimony, the high Court reiterated from previous cases, is NOT general alimony. Here, the wife’s complaint was an initial request for alimony, rather than a modification, and the general term began at time the alimony order was issued.

In addition, the Court addressed two other issues. First, the Court held that Probate and Family Court was required to consider the husband’s post-judgment overtime income in determining the award of alimony. The trial judge erred because he only considered the husband’s base pay as his income for purposes of calculating alimony payments. Second, the Court held that the Probate and Family Court was required to make a specific determination as to whether health insurance should be provided by the husband to the wife. The wife successfully argued that this issue should have been addressed by the trial court.

If you have any questions about divorce or other domestic relations issues, you may schedule a free consultation with our office. Call 978-225-9030 during regular business hours or complete a contact form here, and we will get back to you at our earliest opportunity.

[1] Snow v. Snow, 476 Mass. 425 (2017).

Exchanging Financial Information During a Divorce

Olivia and Oscar are undergoing a contentious divorce in the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court and are encountering issues exchanging financial information. Oscar is a partner in an accounting firm which is local and privately held. Olivia’s attorney has asked Oscar for his most recent K-1 form, which listed his income from the partnership the previous year. Oscar is refusing to provide them. Olivia wonders if there is a way to ensure that she will receive the documents, which she knows are important for her alimony claim.

Chances are, Oscar will need to turn over the documents to Olivia during the process of discovery, which is the exchange of information between the parties pre-trial. According to the Massachusetts Rules of Domestic Relations Procedure, the parties are entitled to “any matter, not privileged, which is relevant to the subject matter involved in the pending action, whether it relates to the claim or defense of the party seeking discovery or to the claim or defense of any other party[.]” [1] Because the requested documents are not protected by privilege (such as attorney-prepared memoranda) and are relevant to the matter, Oscar will need to turn them over to Olivia after she sends him a properly drafted request to produce them.

The Probate and Family Courts provide for automatic exchange of some information between parties to a divorce action. Within 45 days of serving the divorce complaint, the parties are required to file with the Court and to send to the other party a financial statement. In addition, each party is entitled to the other side’s pay stubs, as well as tax returns and supporting schedules and documents for the last three years (unless they were filed jointly).

The financial statement requires each party to fill in information about a slew of financial matters, including: personal information, income, weekly expenses, assets, and liabilities. For parties who make less than $75,000 annually, a short form financial statement is required; for those who make more than that figure, a long form is required.

In addition to the above, a party may serve upon the opposing party a request to produce other types of relevant documents. Some examples include the last three years’ worth of bank statements, financial statements, profit-and-loss statements, and copies of loan and mortgage applications.

Should Oscar refuse to cooperate with the discovery rules, Olivia may file a motion to compel cooperation, by which the Court may order Oscar to turn over the requested documents. The rules also provide for sanctions, such as fines to be paid by the non-cooperative party.

If you have any questions about divorce or related domestic relations issues, you may schedule a free consultation with our office. Call 978-225-9030 during regular business hours or complete a contact form here, and we will get back to you at our earliest opportunity.

[1] Mass. R. Dom. Rel. P. 26(b)(1)

When May a Party be Responsible for the Other Party’s Attorneys’ Fees During a Divorce?

Nina and Noah are undergoing a divorce in the Massachusetts Probate Court. To Noah’s belief, Nina has unnecessarily filed many motions, documents, and other things which lengthened the parties’ case. As a result, Noah has incurred additional attorneys’ fees, which seem to be mounting in their ongoing litigation. Noah wonders whether he can ask the Court to order Nina to help him pay some of those counsel fees, finding her responsible and ordering that the party responsible pays attorneys fees in the case.

Attorneys’ fees may be paid by a client’s spouse under two circumstances, generally: by agreement, or by court order.

A party may agree to pay the other party’s attorney fees, perhaps as part of the order of distribution of marital property. As with any other contract between the parties, the Court will look at this agreement to ensure it is fair and equitable. It is essential for the attorney involved to ensure that he or she is not jeopardizing or bargaining away any key rights of the client by accepting the provision of counsel fees to be paid by the other party. Moreover, rules of professional responsibility may be implicated: after all, the attorney is technically not supposed to accept payment from anyone other than his or her client, unless the client consents after full disclosure. In order to avoid any appearance of impropriety or influence by others, the attorney involved must comport with relevant ethics rules and considerations.

Under some circumstances, the Court may also order a party to pay the spouse’s attorney fees. This is based on the notion that in many cases involving family law and domestic relations, counsel fees are a necessary component, and that both parties ought to be playing from a level playing field. The statute at hand says: “The court may require either party to pay into court for the use of the other party during the pendency of the action an amount to enable him to maintain or defend the action, and to pay to him alimony during the pendency of the action.” [1]

A key Massachusetts case on this issue is Hayden v. Hayden, [2] where the trial court ordered the husband to set aside a sum of $3,000 for counsel fees incurred by the wife while defending their divorce action. The Supreme Judicial Court acknowledged that a party may be ordered to pay the other spouse’s counsel fees, but reduced the amount on appeal. The Court held that the standard by which counsel fees ought to be measured is “compensation paid to public officers for services of a similar character” and that fees in such cases are to be awarded on a “conservative basis.” [3]

Typically, the appellate courts will defer to the Probate and Family Court’s award—that is to say, unless there is evidence that the award was egregious or grossly inadequate, the appellate courts typically won’t disturb it. Some factors considered in this regard include: the time reasonably spent on the case by the attorney; basic factors of need and the financial positions of each spouse; the complexity or difficulty of the work done by the attorney; whether one party has unnecessarily prolonged the litigation, causing the other to incur additional attorney fees; and expert testimony regarding reasonable fees, among many others.

If you have any questions about divorce or related domestic relations issues, you may schedule a free consultation with our office. Call 978-225-9030 during regular business hours or complete a contact form here, and we will get back to you at our earliest opportunity.

 

[1] Mass. Gen. Laws, ch. 208 s. 17

[2] Hayden v. Hayden, 326 Mass. 587 (1950).

[3] Id., at 596.

Keeping Children from the Presence of a Third Party During Custody Arrangements

Leila and Liam are divorced and share custody of their two children. Liam has a new girlfriend who has moved in with him. Leila disapproves of their living arrangements, which she claims are against her moral beliefs. She wants to know whether she can prevent Liam from having his girlfriend around her children. What will the judge do when encountering this and other third party custody issues?

When determining whether a party may prevent the other party from keeping the children in the presence of a third person, the Courts will weigh whether any adverse impact has been made on the children.

In a key Massachusetts case, the Court granted custody to the father; the mother appealed, asking the Court to prohibit the husband from allowing their youngest child to be in the presence of the husband’s new girlfriend, with whom he was cohabiting. [1] The mother argued that her children were being exposed to immoral behavior by seeing their father cohabit with another woman to whom he was not married. She cited to a number of older laws, such as those which once prohibited cohabitation.

The Appeals Court held that the child needn’t be prohibited from being in the presence of the father’s new partner, because there was no evidence that any of the three children were adversely impacted. The Court noted: “in the usual case, judges should avoid making moral judgments on the lifestyles of proposed custodial parents, recognizing that such judgments are appropriate only when it can be shown that a parent’s lifestyle has a direct and articulable adverse impact on the child, or where there can be no real dispute in the circumstances of the particular case that the behavior of the custodial parent is related to his or her parenting ability.”[2]

In another case, the Appeals Court decided on custody matters between a husband and wife, where the wife was engaged in an incestuous relationship with her biological father. The Court granted primary custody to the wife, holding that she was the primary caregiver and that the husband exhibited little inclination to take care of the child while they were residing with him. However, the Court also noted the importance of keeping the children’s grandfather away from them. The Court prohibited the mother from allowing the children to have any contact with her father. [3]

“There can be no real dispute that if the wife and [her father] were to engage in an ongoing incestuous relationship to which the minor children were exposed, directly or indirectly, then at some point there would be a direct and articulable adverse impact on the children,” the Court noted. “In these circumstances, it would be error to omit such an essential prophylactic measure to safeguard the well-being of the children, especially one that was already in place and relied on by the judge and other experts at the award of physical custody.” [4]

In a recent decision, the Court, however, declined to apply the decision in B.B.V. to the claims of a mother, whose husband was having an adulterous relationship with the parties’ former au pair, that the children ought to be kept from the presence of the au pair. [5] The Court stated: “we reject the mother’s argument that there are “compelling” parallels between this case and B.B.V. v. B.S.V…where we imposed a limitation on the award of physical custody in favor of the wife by requiring that she not allow or permit the children to be in the presence of her father, with whom she was in an incestuous relationship. In B.B.V ., there was expert witness testimony at trial about the risks the children would face if exposed to the relationship between their mother and grandfather, and we acknowledged that such exposure ‘would be a direct and articulable adverse impact on the children.’… In this case, comparable evidence of a ‘direct and articulable adverse impact on the children’ as a result of the father’s relationship with the former au pair is noticeably lacking.” [6]

If you have any questions about divorce or custody, you may schedule a free consultation with our office. Call 978-225-9030 during regular business hours or complete a contact form here, and we will get back to you at our earliest opportunity.

[1] Fort v. Fort, 12 Mass. App. Ct. 411 (1981).

[2] Id., at 415.

[3] B.B.V. v. B.S.V., 68 Mass. App. Ct. 12 (2006).

[4] Id., at 20.

[5] Jankovich v. Jankovich, 88 Mass. App. Ct. 1111 (2015).

[6] Id., at 3.

Pretrial Conferences in Divorce Cases

Anyone undergoing a divorce in Massachusetts likely has heard the term “pretrial conference.” According to the Standing Orders of the Probate and Family Court, a pretrial conference is required in all divorce cases.

The purposes of the pretrial conference are set out in Rule 16 of the Massachusetts Rules of Domestic Relations Procedure. According to that rule, the pretrial conference will consider the following:

  1. The simplification of the issues;
  2. The necessity or desirability of amendments to the pleadings;
  3. The possibility of obtaining admissions of fact and of documents which will avoid unnecessary proof;
  4. The limitation of the number of expert witnesses;
  5. The advisability of a preliminary reference of issues to a master;
  6. The possibility of settlement;
  7. Agreement as to damages; and
  8. Such other matters as may aid in the disposition of the action.

Prior to a pretrial conference, the parties are each required to submit a Pretrial Memorandum, which sets out information as to the above eight categories. Along with that, they should each submit updated financial statements. Other fresh paperwork, such as updated child support guidelines worksheets and affidavits of care and custody, may also be required.

Before the conference, and before the documents are submitted, the parties are required to hold a four-way conference between the wife, the husband, and their respective attorneys. Typically, the four-way conference takes place outside of court, such as in the offices of one of the attorneys. There, the parties negotiate the issues, in hopes of resolving all or some of them; they also take stock of some of what will transpire at trial—for example, by pinpointing which issues are still contested, and discussing what proof, witnesses, and exhibits might be introduced into evidence during the trial.

Likewise, at the pretrial conference, which takes place in court and will be formally placed on the court’s docket, the parties continue negotiations. Should the matter come to a settlement prior to or at the pretrial conference, the case may be sent to trial immediately on an uncontested basis—in other words, the court may opt to resolve the case right then and there. In order to do so, the court will delicately consider and attempt to strike a balance between the effort to resolve the case and ensuring that the fair administration of justice is accomplished.

If you have any questions about divorce and related issues, you may schedule a free consultation with our office. Call 978-225-9030 during regular business hours or complete a contact form here, and we will get back to you at our earliest opportunity.