Divorce & Separation | Child Custody | Parenting Plan | Child Support | Prenuptial Agreements | Contempt and Modification | Restraining Orders | Separate Support and Custody | Paternity | Alimony | Marital Debt | Property Division
Our Family Law practice is managed by Assunta D. Perez, Esq. Assunta graduated Suffolk Law School in 1991. While attending law school, she co-edited a book with Professor Marc Perlman. She also testified before the Massachusetts State Legislature on the issue of the present and future needs of the children in a divorce.
Since graduating Law School, for the past 25 years she has been continued to represent clients in all aspects of Family Law. She also served as a Mock Trial Advisor for Hull High School for a number of years. Educated, experienced, tough and compassionate are some of the adjectives that best describe her.
Not only does she have considerable experience in litigation, she is also a trained mediator and a member of Massachusetts Counsel on Family Mediation.
More importantly, she is passionate about her work. Having gone through a divorce herself, she shares empathy with her clients, both male and female, and understands the feelings that are now part of their everyday life, including, hurt, frustration, anger, fear, concern and pain. She utilizes that empathy and combines it with her training and experience to provide her clients excellent legal services that address their specific issues.
What we do
Family disputes are stressful and mentally exhausting, even if it’s amicable. It is essential that you have an understanding of the process. Our attorneys understand the emotional, psychological, and financial repercussions such a decision has on the people involved.
Where do I file? What do I file? Where do I get the forms? What is the law? How is property divided? What is custody? Who has custody? How much is paid in child support? How is the debt divided? Can I move out of Massachusetts? These are just a few of the questions that will come up in a divorce.
If there are children involved, parties will have a connection for the rest of their lives. It is incumbent upon attorneys to recognize this and understand the intricacy of this relationship.
We understand this complexity, and we possess the expertise to provide an optimal solution for you, whether it be through mediation or litigation.
Family law is a very delicate matter, and attorneys often forget the necessity of combining basic human virtues such as compassion, kindness and mutual respect. Along with their expertise, they need to provide solutions that manage to resolve disputes without worsening the relationship any further.
Mediation is being used more often by people as an alternative to litigation. Even in contentious matters, people may benefit from mediation. Almost all issues civil matters can be mediated. Our office does not mediate Restraining Orders.
The process of mediation takes place in a more comfortable and relaxed surrounding, thereby reducing some of the stress that is associated with litigation. It is less costly then most adversarial matters that are litigated. The parties get to choose who will mediate the matter. Mediation sessions happen much faster then the court calendar (for instance, in a contested divorce, it could take 18 months to get a hearing date). It’s confidential. Parties can participate in Mediation and if it is not successful, or if the parties were only able to agree on all of the issues, they are free to litigate the remaining concerns, without having to worry about what was said during the mediation process being brought up in court. Most importantly, the parties are free to determine the outcome of their issues, and have more flexibility in their decisions than a Judge would.
Let’s reiterate, all decisions made, are made by the parties. The mediator acts as a facilitator, a go- between for the parties, to reach a settlement on the outstanding issues.
At DaMore Law we have trained Mediators available to assist the parties in reaching their own agreement. We provide a cordial atmosphere for parties to talk and discuss the issues between themselves. Our Mediators are also attorneys, who know the law and understand what agreements may be acceptable to a Judge.
There are rules that are required to be followed in a mediation, which are established by the Mediator and explained to the parties before the process begins. The cost of the process is usually shared equally by both parties, unless the parties agree otherwise. No large retainer is required and it’s confidential.
The process is also voluntary. That means both parties must agree to mediate. A party cannot be forced to participate in mediation.
Litigation, the process of filing complaints in court to seek a resolution to a dispute, has been around for years, and is not going away. It can be a long and emotionally draining process, not to mention costly for most. It is important to retain the services of an attorney who understands this, and, more importantly, one who has significant experience in the court process, which may include drafting of motions, depositions, appearances and arguments in court, and trial expertise. Our attorneys possess all of these skills.
Although it is the client’s decision whether to litigate or mediate any outstanding issues, it is the responsibility of our attorneys to educate our clients on the pros and cons of that decision, based upon their knowledge and expertise.
Getting a divorce can be one of the most emotional experiences that someone can go through. It doesn’t matter if it was a joint decision or made by one of the parties; it causes such havoc and disorder to the family. Even if it is uncontested, it is not an easy process. There are many issues that need to be addressed, including alimony, health insurance, child custody, child support, to name a few. It is important that you put your trust in someone who has the ability to assist you from the beginning to the end of the divorce process.
Whether it be a contested or uncontested divorce, at DaMore Law, we have the training, experience and temperament to assist you through this difficult and emotional time.
When there are minor children involved in a Divorce, Separation or Paternity action, the issue of a Parenting Plan (the days and times the children spend with each party) will need to be addressed. Often times it can be a highly disputed issue with emotions frequently running high.
At DaMore Law, we understand this. Whether the issue is holidays, vacations, birthdays, weekly parenting time, or all of the above, our attorneys are trained at developing plans that work for everyone, especially the children, without making the situation more contentious.
It’s important to keep in mind that parenting plans often require changes as the children get older. As such, either party may seek to modify the plan.
Contempt and Modification
Contempt: A Complaint for Contempt asks the Court to compel a party to comply with an Order or Judgment of that Court. Some of the issues raised in a contempt action are:
- Life Insurance;
- Alimony and/or Child support;
- Parenting Time;
- College Expenses.
- Contribution to Uninsured medical expenses.
If there is a Temporary Order or a Judgment that has been issued by the Court, and you believe the other party is not in compliance, give us a call.
If you are served with a Complaint for Contempt alleging that you have failed to comply with an order or Judgment of the Court, give us a call.
Not all issues of noncompliance will meet the requirements of a contempt. It is important to have someone who understands the law working on your behalf. So, whether you are seeking to file a Complaint for Contempt or are served with a contempt, we will review the pleadings and determine what is the proper course of action for you. Although such an award is in the sole discretion of the Court, we can also seek attorney’s fees on your behalf.
Modification: Your Divorce, Paternity Action, Custody, to name a few, is completed and an Agreement and/or Judgment has been entered by the Court. Time has passed and the terms of the Judgment or the Agreement are no longer working. What can you do? A Complaint for Modification is filed when a party is seeking a change to the most recent Agreement/Judgment.
A modification can be complicated and just as emotional as the action. This, coupled with the fact that not all issues can be modified, makes it important to seek experienced legal assistance. That’s where the attorneys at DaMore Law come in.
Whether the parties are married and going through a divorce or the parties have a child that was born out of wedlock, child support will be an issue that needs to be addressed. Child Support is one of the most highly contentious issues that parents have to deal with.
Massachusetts has what is called “Child Support Guidelines” that are used to determine what amount of child support should be paid by the non-custodial parent. The Guidelines were recently modified and are not easily understood.
These Guidelines are presumptive. Meaning, the amount of support that is calculated by the Guidelines is presumed to be the amount that the Court will order. However, the court can deviate from this amount. The parties can also agree to a different amount. Sounds easy, right? It’s not. There is case law that both supports and challenges deviation from the Guidelines. And, although the parties can agree to a different amount of support then that determined by the Guidelines, there are certain legal restrictions that need to be taken into consideration. Call DaMore Law to help provide you with these calculations.
Sometimes relationships go beyond being strained and a party becomes the victim of domestic violence. This happens quite often. It can be verbal threats or actual physical harm. Such abuse has led to serious injuries and even death to some of the victims.
If you are a victim of domestic violence, it is important that you know you don’t have to stay in the relationship. You shouldn’t stay in the relationship. There is assistance that is available to you. You have alternatives. You need to be aware of them. It could be a matter of life and death.
Not only can our attorneys help you seek a restraining order, we can direct you to organizations that help with housing, food and work for you and your child(ren). Be safe, and reach out to us.
Not only do our attorneys have experience in assisting individuals who are in need of a restraining order, but we also assist people who have been falsely accused of domestic violence and need legal representation in contesting a restraining order. A restraining order can have adverse effects on an individual, including loss of job, firearms, restrictions on parenting time, just to name a few. If you believe you were unjustly accused of domestic violence, and served with a copy of the Restraining Order, do not disregard the return date. Contact us immediately and we will review the matter with you.
Getting married is one of the most important decisions an individual can make. In addition to being a time of love, laughter and thoughts of a bright future, it can also be a time of practicality.
Perhaps one of the parties has significantly more money or assets than the other party, and they want to keep those assets separate from the assets that the parties accrue during the marriage. It can be family money/assets, or money/assets from a prior marriage. Maybe they want to protect their kids from a prior marriage. Whatever the reason, there are times that parties enter into an agreement that determines what happens to money/assets they had prior to the marriage and what happens to money/assets earned and/or accrued during the marriage. This Agreement is called a Prenuptial Agreement.
It is entered into between the parties before they get married. It is a legally complicated document. Among other things it has to be both fair and reasonable at the time entered, and at the time that it may be challenged. Yes, it can be challenged and they have been challenged, so it is important that you obtain the services of someone who is knowledgeable in this area. Reach out to DaMore Law. We can help you.
Separate Support /Paternity
Parties do not have to be married to have children. Many children are born “out of wedlock”. Although the parties may not have been married, they both still have an obligation to their child(ren).
If you and your partner have a child, it is important to establish paternity. There are many ways to establish paternity, including listing the father on the birth certificate, acknowledging paternity, obtaining a paternity test and by court order.
There are both responsibilities and entitlements that go hand and hand with establishing paternity. Child support, custody, parenting time, inheritance, health insurance, to name a few.
Whether you want to establish paternity of a child or want to contest paternity, give us a call.
Marital Debt and Property Division
You know longer want to be married. Whether it’s a short-term marriage or a long-term marriage, questions regarding marital debt and property division will arise. Who takes what property? Was the property brought into the marriage by one of the parties? Is it a family heirloom? Who should pay what debt? When was the debt incurred? What type of debt is it? Is there a business that needs to be valued? Should the asset be sold or transferred to one party? These are just some of the questions that may arise in your divorce.
What are assets and debts, you may ask? Bank accounts, retirement accounts, stock, stock options, business entity, real estate, mortgages, credit cards, and college loans, are some of the debts and assets that may need to be addressed in your divorce.
Whether you are litigating these matters or have chosen mediation, give us a call. DaMore Law can assist you, and, when necessary, we work with other professionals, i.e. accountants and business valuators.
A divorce places financial strains on both parties. Sometimes there wasn’t enough money to cover all expenses when living together and now you need to determine how to survive on significantly less money. That’s where alimony comes in. Massachusetts enacted the Alimony Reform act in 2011. It established four categories of alimony:
- General Term Alimony
- Rehabilitative Alimony
- Reimbursement Alimony
- Transitional Alimony
The question isn’t just if you are eligible for alimony. That is just the first question. Then you need to determine which category you belong in. Then you look at how long and how much alimony you may be entitled to.
Alimony payments were always deductible by the payor and included in income by the recipient. With the enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA), that all changes. Now, alimony payments are not included in the income of the recipient and are still considered taxable income to the payor.
How the TCJA will affect alimony going forward is a work in progress. Alimony will still be awarded. It is up to the parties, with the assistance of counsel and even a financial analyst or accountant, to determine what is the best avenue moving forward.
DaMore Law can assist you.
When separating or getting divorced, and there are children involved, you need to address the issue of custody. There are two types of custody in Massachusetts, legal and physical.
There are many issues that the Court will take into consideration when addressing the issue of custody, including, but not limited to, domestic violence, history of addiction, each parents’ relationship with the child(ren), and, always, the needs and best interest of the children.
Contact DaMore Law. We can explain custody to you and how to approach it with your particular set of facts.