Divorce FAQs

Question: My spouse and I have been married for a long time. Our children are grown and have moved out. We have grown apart, and feel as though we should go our separate ways. We are in agreement on how to divide our assets and debts. Do we each have to hire our own attorney and deal with the Court system, or is there an alternative?
Answer: Sometimes couples get along fine, but no longer wish to be married for a variety of reasons, and they are able to agree on how to divide their assets. In these situations, a couple may expedite a divorce proceeding by filing a Joint Petition for Divorce under M.G.L.c. 208 § 1A. This section is used when both spouses want a divorce for "irretrievable breakdown of the marriage." An irretrievable breakdown of the marriage simply means that the couple can not make the marriage work, but that neither party is at fault. When a couple files for divorce using the Joint Petition, a hearing shall be scheduled quickly.

Question: I am a mother of two young children, ages 4 and 6, and I have been a stay-at-home mom since they were born. My husband has recently moved out and filed for divorce. I want the children to live with me, and my husband has stated that he would agree to let the children live with me. I realize that I will probably have to take on a part time job to support the children, but I want to know how much I can get from my husband for child support?
Answer: The Probate and Family Court has child support guidelines in place in order to make a determination of how much weekly support should be ordered on a case by case basis. The child support guidelines take several factors into consideration when calculating support. These factors include: custody and visitation arrangements; child care expenses (i.e. daycare and babysitters) incurred by the custodial parent; the income of the custodial parent; the income of the non-custodial parent; the ages of the children, since the court acknowledges that costs of raising children increases as the children get older; and which parent has the health insurance expense.

Question: I am a Dad who has taken on a non-traditional role in the family, as I have been the primary caretaker of the children, and stayed at home to take care of household chores while my wife worked full time throughout the marriage. I have heard that the courts usually favor placing the children in the mother's custody, and that fathers usually do not have a chance at getting physical custody. I am concerned about this. Do I have a chance of getting custody of my children?
Answer: Yes, today the courts are gender neutral when considering physical custody arrangements. The court will usually take into account the past conduct of the parents looking at who was the primary caretaker of the children and the household when making a determination on custody.

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