Law Office of Marianne Emanuel Pantelakis

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Question Number 1: I want to file for divorce but I can’t afford the filing fees and costs.  What can I do?


Answer: The filing fee for a Complaint for Divorce is $220.00, and the cost of service of process on the Summons is $30.00.  Some people find themselves in a situation where they cannot afford the filing fees and feel as though they are stuck without any options.  If you are unable to afford the filing fees, you may file an Affidavit of Indigency with the Court along with a Supplemental Form indicating your weekly income and your weekly expenses.  You may file these documents along with your Complaint for Divorce with the Court.  The Court will review your financial situation and make a determination of whether to waive the fees and costs associated with filing your Complaint, and will notify you by mail of its decision. 


The Affidavit of Indigency is not something unique to the Probate and Family Court.  A pro se litigant (one without a lawyer) may file the Affidavit and Supplemental form in any court if he or she is unable to afford the filing fees.

Question Number 2: My spouse and I have been married for a long time.  Our kids 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 is used when both spouses want a divorce claiming “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.”  An irretrievable breakdown of the marriage simply means that the couple couldn’t make the marriage work, but that neither party was at fault.  When a couple files for divorce using the Joint Petition, a hearing shall be scheduled within 30 days of filing

Question Number 3:  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 kids to live with me, and my husband has stated that he would agree to let the kids live with me.  I realize that I’ll probably have to take on a part time job to support the kids, 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, since the guidelines do not apply when the parents have shared physical custody; 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 kids get older; and which parent has health insurance and whose insurance the children are on.     

Question Number 4:  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 don’t have a chance at getting physical custody.  I am concerned about this.  Do I have a chance of getting custody of my kids?


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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DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.

The Law Office of Marianne Emanuel Pantelakis
27 North Sreet 
Salem, Massachusetts 01970
Phone: (978) 745-2565
Fax: (978) 745-7806
[email protected]

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