Do I need a prenuptial agreement?

A prenuptial agreement allows couples to make full disclosure of their finances and agree on how they will handle certain financial issues during their marriage or in the event of divorce or one spouse’s death. Not everyone needs a prenuptial agreement, but any couple can benefit from having one.

Prenuptial agreements are especially helpful for couples in which one or both spouses have children from a previous relationship; there is a large disparity between spouses’ net worths; one or both spouses own a business; or one or both spouses have significant debt.

My ex is not paying child support. Can I deny visitation if there is no court order?

Visitation and child support are two separate issues. You should not deny visitation even if the other parent is not paying child support. If your child’s other parent is not paying support, you should consult a family law attorney to have a child support order put in place.

Who qualifies for alimony in Massachusetts?

A spouse who needs financial support during or after a divorce may receive alimony from a spouse who has the ability to pay. Both men and women can receive alimony. Some alimony is “rehabilitative,” meaning it is temporary and intended to give one spouse the opportunity to become self-supporting. “General term” alimony is paid for a length of time that depends on the length of the marriage; the longer the marriage, the longer payments continue. Alimony may also be available after a short-term marriage to help a spouse transition to a new living situation, or to reimburse a divorcing spouse for their contributions to the other spouse’s career.

How is child custody determined in Massachusetts?

There are two types of child custody: legal custody (who makes important decisions for the child) and physical custody (where the child lives). Parents can agree on child custody, and as long as the court believes that doing so is in the child’s best interest, it will approve the parents’ agreement about custody.

If the parents cannot agree on custody, the court will decide. Massachusetts courts usually prefer for parents to share legal custody if possible. To promote stability for the child, one parent is usually granted primary physical custody with the other having parenting time.

Courts make custody decisions by considering several “best interest” factors, including who has been the child’s primary caretaker, the child’s ties to their current school and community, and each parents’ willingness to foster the child’s relationship with the other parent.

How long does it take to get a divorce in Massachusetts?

The length of the Massachusetts divorce process depends on whether you and your spouse agree on all the terms of your divorce or not. The more issues you have to resolve, the longer your divorce is likely to take. The courts in Massachusetts aim to resolve contested divorces within 14 months. However, uncontested divorces can be finalized much faster.