Ask Amy and Catherine – Free Divorce Advice Massachusetts

Attorney Amy Saunders provides free divorce advice to the public.  Click here to send Amy a question and Attorney Saunders will post the answer to your question in the list below. All questions and answers remain anonymous. If you would like to speak with us, please call (508) 659-0043

Attorney Amy Saunders, Esq.
Law Office of Amy L. Saunders
Westwood, Massachusetts
Bridgewater, Massachusetts

Click here to send Amy a question

 

In accordance with the rules of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, this website must be labeled as advertising.  It is intended to provide only general information for readers and is not a substitute for legal advice or a legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances.  In using this site, you understand and acknowledge that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the attorney.

 


51) Hello. I’m wondering if you can tell me if it is possible to file for divorce by mail. Married in Massachusetts, lived in California for 12 years, returned to Massachusetts, separated for two years and I have been back in California for five months now. My husband keeps procrastinating even though all of the joint paperwork has been filled out (not because he wants to contest the divorce). I am thinking I should just file and have him respond to the petition but I don’t see directions on how to file by mail, just how to set up a process service. Any information you can provide would be helpful. No children, no property, no assets to split.?


50) My husband filed for divorce last year and I have no idea what is going on but there is a court date set in a week. What do I do?


49) Can you help me with a summary process form and eviction in MA?


48) Am I required to show my ex itemized receipts on how I spend child support funds?


47) I have a 8yr old son that lives with me full time and his father wants to claim him on his taxes. Can he really do that?


46) I am filing for a divorce and are filling out the forms does my unemployment count as income there is no box for this on my form


45) How long does it take to get a summons when you file for divorce?


44) So I locked myself out of the house I’m renting from. I am a tenant at will in MA and need to get inside.


43) My soon-to-be ex wife refuses to share any of the driving as ordered by the court.


42) In case you terminate your attorney can he hold your files hostage if you owe him money? What does the Massachusetts law say?


41) My daughter graduates high school this month and is 19 and has no plans on going to college. Will I still have to pay support?


40) I am absolutely lost and overwhelmed. Help.


39) Am I going to need an attorney to help me out with my case?


38) Can I simultaneously file for divorce while an annulment complaint is pending?


37) My husband filed for divorce/ moved in with his gf and her 3 kids. He’s spending 1000’s on them weekly. Do I have any recourse?


36) Is it necessary to have an attorney for a mediation meeting?


35) If I were married for 21 years and divorced for 14 and remarried the same man and divorced again would I be entitled to his SSI


34) What happens in Massachusetts if spouse doesn’t appear at pre trial divorce hearing?


33) How do I get a family member to vacate my home?


32) Who is able to attend the meeting with you if you are pro se?


31) If the law states a extension of a rso isnt automatic and im not obligated to attend,why am i considered having on notice?


30) I was divorced on 9/28/2012. I am taking him to court for ignoring his financial responsibilities as stated in divorce agreement


29) What are rights to joint purchases for widow in state of MA when deceased (2nd husband) didn’t list her in will? Did have pre-nup


28) The judge approved my divorce on November 29. It is absolute on Feb 28th. Can I extend this date for more time to execute terms?


27) Do I need a legal representative if my my husband wants to separate our bank accounts?


26) What is the language I should use in requesting a motion for continuance to obtain counsel?


25) My marriage license contains false information does this deem the marriage null and void in massachusetts. Plz reply thanks


24) Child and school he or she attends


23) If I have joint custody of my children will I pay less child support?


22) Can I prevent husband from buying marital home if we decide to sell?


21) Signed a prenup a day before I married. I got it 2 days prior to wedding, no legal council. Is it valid under MA law?


20) Paying for Health Insurance


19) If I filed for divorce 20 months ago but he has refused to come to an agreement, am I considered legally separated?


18) I am filling out the Massachusetts child support form and for my spouse’s income I am unsure what numbers to use.


17) I live in Ma., and responsible for child support until my child has graduated from college/full time/active student/


16) Can I convert my children’s religion if I share custody with their father?


15) My first great grandson’s birth record is not available to anyone except parents . They are not married .why can’t I have one?


14) If I married a man who is legally blind and his check was cut can Texas come after me in mass for his child support


13) How long and much does it take before a person who doesn’t pay child support to get on dead beat parent list? Does the


12) Can I date after filing divorce in Massachusetts? Can I move & have a roommate share half the rent/bills?


11) How can I get support from my husband with the mortgage payment?


10) Can I sell my Husband firearms We are going threw a divorce he has left the house 13 months ago I have a license to carry .


9) Establishing paternity


8) Uninsured Medical Expenses in Massachusetts Divorce Decree


7) My husband moved to Boston he left behind stuff. What do I do?


6) My sister loaned my son college tuition in july, 2010. now she is angry at us and she wants her money back in 6 months.


5) Pulling a permit for siding?


4) Contempt questions


3) How do you determine the duration and amount of spousal alimony in Massachusetts?


2) What information is needed in a Motion to Stay for a divorce in MA?


1) My ex asked my 13 yo son to take pics of my financial docs for her in exchange for money. Can something be done legally?

Answers

51) Hello. I’m wondering if you can tell me if it is possible to file for divorce by mail. Married in Massachusetts, lived in California for 12 years, returned to Massachusetts, separated for two years and I have been back in California for five months now. My husband keeps procrastinating even though all of the joint paperwork has been filled out (not because he wants to contest the divorce). I am thinking I should just file and have him respond to the petition but I don’t see directions on how to file by mail, just how to set up a process service. Any information you can provide would be helpful. No children, no property, no assets to split.

amy-miniYes it is possible to file for divorce by mail.

 

I would suggest that you consider filing for a contested divorce and then if you have a mutual agreement with your husband, you can convert it to an uncontested divorce. Click here for the forms needed to file for a contested divorce.

 

Here are a couple resources that may be helpful …

 

 

Best of luck,
Amy

50) My husband filed for divorce last year and I have no idea what is going on but there is a court date set in a week. What do I do?

amy-mini I understand you want to stay married. However, you do not need a fault basis to divorce. If your husband wants a divorce he can get one. Since he has lawyer and drafted a separation agreement, which is divorce agreement, it looks like he wants a divorce. What you should do first is call the court and talk to clerk’s office to ask them about your next court date. If you can’t afford on attorney, which you should retain, at the very least find out when the lawyer of the day is on duty and then…
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49) Can you help me with a summary process form and eviction in MA?

amy-miniSounds like you need a lawyer. The problem with evictions is that any misstep will result in your case being thrown out. You need to fill out a summary process form and the dates on it are essential. You can call the court and they will help on the dates. You need to have the form served by a sheriff or approved constable and then once it is served you must file it on or before the entry day with the filing fee. The return of service must be attached to the form. You do not need to file…
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48) Am I required to show my ex itemized receipts on how I spend child support funds?

amy-miniThere is no need to show your ex anything. That’s an invasion of your privacy. Is your ex going to show you everything he bought to show whether he can afford more? Just say no.
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47) I have a 8yr old son that lives with me full time and his father wants to claim him on his taxes. Can he really do that?

amy-miniIt depends how much he is paying. Generally deduction is alternated. For IRS purposes you can only claim absent an order of court or by agreement. Can the court give him the deduction. The answer is yes. Good luck.
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46) I am filing for a divorce and are filling out the forms does my unemployment count as income there is no box for this on my form

amy-miniIt is on line 2K on the short form financial statement. Just check Unemployment Insurance. Best of luck!
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45) How long does it take to get a summons when you file for divorce in Massachusetts?

amy-miniIt can take much longer than that if you were in Plymouth County (which takes months). It has been taking at least that, if not more ,in Bristol County. In the good old days you could request a summons the same day but that is not longer absent an emergency. Best of luck but your attorney is on target.
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44) So I locked myself out of the house I’m renting from. I am a tenant at will in MA and need to get inside.

amy-miniContact the police or call your landlord.
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43) My soon-to-be ex wife refuses to share any of the driving as ordered by the court.

amy-miniYou can go in for temporary orders sooner that can address pickup and drop off. Generally the parties split this. I hear you on police station pick up and drop offs.
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42) In case you terminate your attorney can he hold your files hostage if you owe him money? What does the Massachusetts law say?

amy-miniThat is an easy one. NO. He can charge a reasonable fee for copying the file though.
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41) My daughter graduates high school this month and is 19 and has no plans on going to college. Will I still have to pay support?

amy-miniI know you feel so close to being done with payments and having uncertainty is frustrating. First I would look at your separation agreement on the age of termination of child support. Many older agreements say age 18 if not going to college. Next, if you collect through DOR I would confirm what age they will stop collecting in your case. If the two match, and cease at 18 or after high school you may not have to file any action. In Massachusetts there is the “loafer” rule, which allows child…
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40) I am absolutely lost and overwhelmed. Help.

amy-miniGet an attorney fast. Do you have the family stipend for the children? If so then there is a body of law that says you do not need to pay support at all. Some judges are not familiar with this and need to be advised of this. Best of luck.
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39) Am I going to need an attorney to help me out with my case?

attorney amy saundersHere is the provision for marriage under the age of 18: “The probate court for the county where, or a district court within the judicial district of which, a minor under the age specified in the preceding section resides may, after hearing, make an order allowing the marriage of such minor, if the parents or surviving parent of such minor, or, if only one such parent resides in the commonwealth, that parent, or, if neither such parent is alive and resident thereof, or if the parent or parents…

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38) Can I simultaneously file for divorce while an annulment complaint is pending?

amy-miniIt sounds like you wish to get divorced quickly. In that instance I would suggest you re-file for divorce based on abandonment or irretrievable breakdown. Annulment is sparingly granted. If a judge had to choose between an annulment or a divorce, they would likely favor the divorce and not grant an annulment. I would not recommend pursuing them together. If you would like more specific advice, I would need to know more details such as length of marriage and grounds for annulment to assure…
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37) My husband filed for divorce/ moved in with his gf and her 3 kids. He’s spending 1000’s on them weekly. Do I have any recourse?

amy-miniAbsolutely. First that’s horrible. If he is spending thousands per week on gf, then it should be considered in division of marital assets and may violate terms of automatic restraining order of assets. There are many things you could do but any attorney would need more specifics. Good luck!
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36) Is it necessary to have an attorney for a mediation meeting?

amy-miniYes you can always proceed without an attorney. You must under a pro se appearance. I have attached the link http://pcpfc.com/FormMAX/PDF/Appearance.pdf. Your attorney must enter a withdrawal of appearance. You can have an attorney do a limited assistance appearance, so that you can have counsel when you want it. But really you ask a bunch of lawyers this question and we will all say yes you need an attorney. Good luck!
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35) If I were married for 21 years and divorced for 14 and remarried the same man and divorced again would I be entitled to his SSI

amy-miniYes. All it takes it 10 years.
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34) What happens in Massachusetts if spouse doesn’t appear at pre trial divorce hearing?

amy-miniAs long as he was served in hand, the matter can go to trial that day and you will get a divorce. Some judges want to send notice of a trial with one last opportunity to appear. Bring a pretrial memo because sometimes they magically appear. Good luck.
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33) How do I get a family member to vacate my home?

amy-miniUnfortunately you will need to do an eviction against your niece. You can give a 30 days notice to quit which is valid for thirty days after the end of the month. So if you give notice today or on last day of month, it would be to have her vacate at the end of October. I am not clear if the $2500 is rent or money owed. If she just owes you money, then you can bring a small claims action. I would recommend you start eviction proceedings now. This is really a landlord tenant issue, not…
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32) Who is able to attend the meeting with you if you are pro se?

amy-miniJust you and your lawyer is correct. Third parties are generally not welcome. Depending on the circumstances, I will have my clients bring a friend/family for support to wait in the waiting area.
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31) If the law states a extension of a rso isnt automatic and im not obligated to attend,why am i considered having on notice?

amy-miniWhen you get served with a restraining order it states the next event date on the bottom. That is your notice. You don’t get anything further. So if the restraining order says it is for a year, you need to appear at the next event one year later. You can try to remove the order by filing a motion to vacate with the court.
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30) I was divorced on 9/28/2012. I am taking him to court for ignoring his financial responsibilities as stated in divorce agreement

amy-miniYou should hire a lawyer to reopen the divorce. The process is complicated, but the failure to disclose the asset could allow you to reopen based on the fraud.
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29) What are rights to joint purchases for widow in state of MA when deceased (2nd husband) didn’t list her in will? Did have pre-nup

attorney amy saundersAny practitioner would need to review the documents first. In Massachusetts prenuptial agreements are generally valid. However, if assets held jointly, I believe they would belong to your mother. They did have a marriage and assets were acquired along the way. Best bet is to have attorney review the documents. Good luck!
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28) The judge approved my divorce on November 29. It is absolute on Feb 28th. Can I extend this date for more time to execute terms?

attorney amy saundersIf you are going to try to reopen the divorce you should do it before the absolute date. You should consult with an attorney as the grounds to reopen are limited. The motion will stop the divorce from becoming final. Also depending on your terms of the separation agreement you may be able to modify terms.
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27) Do I need a legal representative if my my husband wants to separate our bank accounts?

attorney amy saundersYou do not need an attorney to divide account if you want to divide them. If you do not want to divide them, you can file for divorce and have the paperwork served on your spouse. This will put an automatic restraining order on your property so your assets won’t vanish. Good luck. I recommend you meet with an attorney.
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26) What is the language I should use in requesting a motion for continuance to obtain counsel?

attorney amy saundersThere are attorneys out there who are able to handle a court date of October 14. It is pretty typical for attorneys to get calls about emergency motions scheduled in a few days. I would first try to get a new lawyer. If your new lawyer is not available he/she can contact new counsel to request continuance. If you are unable to secure a meeting with a new attorney and wish to continue, I would recommend filing an emergency motion to continue to secure counsel prior to court event. Depending…
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25) My marriage license contains false information does this deem the marriage null and void in massachusetts. Plz reply thanks

attorney amy saundersIt will not void the marriage. So long as he was not married at the time you will have a valid marriage. Good luck.
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24) Child and school he or she attends

attorney amy saundersI had a several cases like this because the school system required 51% of custody to permit attending the school system. I do believe it would vary by town, however. In my case, I got the father 51% of custody and reduced support. The guidelines vary for shared custody, so you would have to calculate that change to support. Best of luck.
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23) If I have joint custody of my children will I pay less child support?

attorney amy saundersI think you can tell from the answers from the attorney is that you need to talk to a lawyer. Usually alimony and child support are not paid at the same time. There are so many variables with how much you make and how much she makes. The guidelines in shared custody cases call for calculating the guidelines as if you were paying support and then calculating the guidelines as if your spouse was paying support. The difference, assuming you make more, would be what you would pay (so if your…
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22) Can I prevent husband from buying marital home if we decide to sell?

attorney amy saundersI understand your concern in that you do not want the kids to have to face the home that you were a couple in. In today’s economy you need to balance that with whether there will be a short sale loss. The reality is that if you and your spouse do not agree on the sale of the home, the court will order that it be sold and the proceeds split. I recommend you talk to an attorney.
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21) Signed a prenup a day before I married. I got it 2 days prior to wedding, no legal council. Is it valid under MA law?

attorney amy saundersI think this question is far more complex than a simple answer will get you here. You have choice of law questions, so my best advice is to meet with a lawyer. Prenups are generally enforced here in MA but there may exceptions. Best of luck.
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20) Paying for Health Insurance

attorney amy saundersGenerally insurance for the children is covered through the child support guidelines. However, if there is a cost to cover you under the family plan then you would reimburse your spouse for that cost. Bottom line if there is a cost assessed to carry you on the family plan, you must pay this. If it does not cost your spouse, then you get coverage as long as you are eligible under the plan. You may want to consult with her HR or an attorney to see if you have coverage beyond the divorce,…
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19) If I filed for divorce 20 months ago but he has refused to come to an agreement, am I considered legally separated?

attorney amy saundersIt’s not over until its over. You are not legally separated, but that usually does not matter. Unlike other states Massachusetts does not require a separation period prior to filing divorce. Your divorce is filed and you will ultimately be divorced. You may want to meet with an attorney about how to move your case along. You could try mediation one last time, but sign the agreement then and there. Good luck.
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18) I am filling out the Massachusetts child support form and for my spouse’s income I am unsure what numbers to use.

attorney amy saundersUse your current income for the financial statement. However, with regard to the bonus, since it fluctuates, you could use an average number and put explanatory note next to it saying based on average of x number of years. The bonus comes into play when determining the child support/alimony, so often your spouse is given a percentage of the bonus. You can look at what percentage rate you pay in a child support and then apply that to the bonus and put a note bonus not included because…
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17) I live in Ma., and responsible for child support until my child has graduated from college/full time/active student/

attorney amy saundersYou can do a modification of the support order to reflect the amount you pay for insurance. It may be helpful to run the guidelines before doing so to make sure your support order would not go up. In the modification you can request information on the college.
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16) Can I convert my children’s religion if I share custody with their father?

attorney amy saundersYou must first talk to your ex. This comes up frequently in my cases, and what the clients ultimately compromise on is mutual respect of one another’s religious beliefs. Shared legal requires your ex’s assent. So if you can’t agree you can bring that issue before the court. In the end of the day, you will likely have an agreement that the children may practice both religions.
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15) My first great grandson’s birth record is not available to anyone except parents . They are not married .why can’t I have one?

attorney amy saunders

…or born out of wedlock. Its like the 1800s around here sometimes.
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14) If I married a man who is legally blind and his check was cut can Texas come after me in mass for his child support

attorney amy saundersYou cannot be liable for your husbands support. However, they could put liens against joint assets.
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13) How long and much does it take before a person who doesn’t pay child support to get on dead beat parent list? Does the

attorney amy saundersI do not know how you get on most wanted deadbeat dads list, but I am certain it’s more than $5,000 to get on it. File a contempt. But know you can not rely on your ex.
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12) Can I date after filing divorce in Massachusetts? Can I move & have a roommate share half the rent/bills?

attorney amy saundersFeel free to move out or you can seek further temporary orders to reside at the house exclusively. Living like the “War of the Roses” is not healthy for you or your children whatsoever. As far as dating, although it may technically be a felony, everyone does it–but it is still on the books as a crime. Just when deciding to date you need to think about how the children will be affected by this and think long and hard if it worth it–it may just be. Good luck and move out!
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11) How can I get support from my husband with the mortgage payment?

attorney amy saundersYou would be able to go to court for a motion for further temporary orders. I have seen the courts, where the house is upside down, eliminate the need to pay the mortgage whatsoever. However, if the house has lots of equity the court will order it paid, but you could seek contribution from your husband or you could consider your husband living in the house and you moving out–if that is in the works. Best of luck!
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10) Can I sell my Husband firearms We are going threw a divorce he has left the house 13 months ago I have a license to carry .

attorney amy saundersNO! Bottom line is when going through a divorce there is an automatic restraining order on transferring assets. Even if you could sell a gun not registered to you, which you can not, your husband has not consented and it would be a violation of the automatic restraining order. What you can do is have the guns held by the police and have him sell them. Good luck, but this is one issue you don’t want to have a problem with later on.
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9) Establishing paternity

attorney amy saundersIf you are both satisfied you can file an action for support custody and visitation with court and agree on paternity. You could also sign voluntary acknowledgement of parentage. If you dispute just arrange for test through DOR. Good luck!
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8) Uninsured Medical Expenses in Massachusetts Divorce Decree

attorney amy saundersOrthodontia can be a lot of money. You could file a request to modify the divorce. I have seen these motions allowed many times altering who pays uninsured medical expenses. I recommend you run the guidelines before you file–if the guidelines go up chances are that your request to modify will prompt your ex to modify as well. If the guidelines change substantially you may want to forego your modification.
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7) My husband moved to Boston he left behind stuff. What do I do?

attorney amy saundersIt looks like a divorce is brewing. I would recommend packing his items in a box but don’t throw them out. You can address this issue in a motion for temporary orders in the divorce. Good luck.
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6) My sister loaned my son college tuition in july, 2010. now she is angry at us and she wants her money back in 6 months.

attorney amy saundersStop worrying. The terms of the note will dictate whether or not she can collect. Based on this information, unless there is a default or a way to accelerate the principle — I do not see a way for her to collect prior to 2027. Regarding the state, she may be able to file in AZ. How to prepare? If you are unable to make peace with politicking — you could have a lawyer draft a letter to your sister explaining the contractual obligation. Hopefully, that will not be required.
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5) Pulling a permit for siding?

attorney amy saundersI have seen this issue many time before — and some buyers will require you to get all required permits prior to closing. I would suggest you wait until after the home inspection and get any permits required by the buyer.
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4) Contempt questions

attorney amy saundersI have seen the judge award lost wages for the day, so I certainly would ask for that. Moreover, if it is for a divorce, most separation agreements in Massachusetts will allow for expenses to enforce the agreement. You may also be wise on any review to see if the judge will permit you to either: 1) appear by telephone or 2) to have your appearance waived.
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3) How do you determine the duration and amount of spousal alimony in Massachusetts?

attorney amy saundersGenerally speaking 52.2 months or 4.35 years. Hope this helps. It is 60% of the number of months married.
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2) What information is needed in a Motion to Stay for a divorce in MA?

attorney amy saundersI am not sure why you need a motion to stay. However, you can go to the courthouse to request a Motion Form. Just write as title a Motion to Stay. There is an area in which you state that reasons. Best of luck.
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1) My ex asked my 13 yo son to take pics of my financial docs for her in exchange for money. Can something be done legally?

attorney amy saundersI can’t be the only one that finds this behavior completely outrageous. To sneak copies of your finances is bad. To do it through your child for cash outrageous. I would bring contempt. If you have an attorney request attorneys fees. I think you need to start developing a pattern, or what’s going to happen next?
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Attorney Amy Saunders, Esq.
Law Office of Hanson & Saunders
Westwood, MA
Bridgewater, Massachusetts

Office: (508) 659-0043


 

In accordance with the rules of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, this website must be labeled as advertising.  It is intended to provide only general information for readers and is not a substitute for legal advice or a legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances.  In using this site, you understand and acknowledge that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the attorney.