Legal Blog

Some of the durational limits set forth in the new Alimony Act is if its solely being filed because of the “durational limits”.  If your married for 5 years or less the Modification can be filed on or after March 1, 2013.  If you are married 10 years or less the Modification can be filed on or after March 1, 2014.  If you are married 15 years or less; but more than 10 years, the Modification can be filed on or after March 1, 2015.  If you are married 20 years or less; but more than 15, the Modification can be filed on or after September 1, 2015.


In addition, anyone who is eligible for full old age benefits under the United States Old Age Disability and Survivor Insurance Act or will become eligible on or before March 1, 2015 can file a Modification on or after March 1, 2013.  This does not mean that you can not file a Modification if there are other circumstances that have changed; or that would allow you to file a Modification and then have both reasons. Again, this is regarding the Alimony Reform Act in Massachusetts.

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For Children’s Education there is Children’s Law Center of Massachusetts which is in Lynn and the phone number is: 781-581-1977 or 1-888-KIDLAWS.


Disability Law Center, Boston, 617-723-8455 or 1-800-872-9992

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There is the Brockton Family and Community Resources where there crisis hotline is 508-583-6498 and the toll free hotline is 888-583-2045.


Attleboro - New Hope the crisis hotline is: 1-800-323-HOPE or 4673.

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You do not need to go to court to change your name.  You are allowed to change your name as long as it is not for an illegal or dishonest reason( know a scommon law change).

 However, it is much easier to legally change your name which does require that you go to court.  You must file a petition in the probate and family court in the county you reside.  It will be granted unless it is not consitent with public interest.    You must pay a filing fee and have a certified birth certificate.

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You have a statutory right to inspect a large number of public records ( Chapter 66 sec 10a-MGL).  You may need to pay a fee but that must be reasonable to cover the cost of searching, redacting copying and so forth.  The custodian of the record has up to 10 days to refuse or comply with the request.  It must be denied in writing and you can appeal.

 It is very similar to the Federal law.  Every record made or recieved by the govt. is presumed to be a public record unless a specific statutory exemption permits or requires it to be witheld in whole or in part.

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How fees are paid can be now done by either money order or by check.  If they are mailed, mail it to the Registry of Probate at 40 Broadway Street, Taunton, MA 02780.  You can also pay in person with check, money order, cash or a major credit card at the Taunton address or at the 289 Rock Street in Fall River.  The list of filing fees is listed on the Bristol County website.


However, some basic fees are: for a blank Summons it is $5.00; for a Certified Copy is $20.00 plus a $1.00 per page except for the 1st; a Contempt Summons is $5.00; if you file an Abuse Prevention Order, there is no filing fee; for a change of name it is $100.00; a Complaint for Custody/Support/Visitation it is $100.00; Complaint for Divorce it is $220.00; Joint Petition for Divorce it is $215.00; Modification for Non-child related issues it is $155.00; and Modification relative to child support, custody and visitation it is $55.00; Complaint to Establish Paternity it is $120.00. These are just some of the examples of the fees.  However, they are subject to change and would be advisable to look on the website or call the Bristol County Probate & Family Court.

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Again, if you are not certain you can put down that you are not certain and indicate how you arrived at that, but it is important to do a footnote or an asterisk.  If you are valuation a stock or a 401k, you want to indicate the date that you are using for that valuation and down the road make sure that you would obtain an appraisal to end up figuring out the exact amount.


Leaving things out is a big issue for the court. Every account even if it has very small or nominal must be disclosed.  The other side can end up saying that you are intentionally trying to hide assets; which can be more problematic for you, then if you list it and say that it has nominal amount in it or $5.00 in it or whatever it may be.  The full disclosure is the key on the financial statement.

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In Massachusetts paternity needs to be established in order to determine the child’s legal father if the parties are not married.  There are different ways that it can be done.


One is, simply signing an Acknowledgement of Paternity.  Father and mother state that the father is the child’s father; and it would appear on the child’s Birth Certificate and then the child is linked to the father. 

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Massachusetts has a new Child Support Guidelines it will take effect on August 1, 2013.  In general, it appears to decrease the amount of child support paid by the non-custodial parent to the parent and at 10% is a general rule of thumb.  There are a couple of key provisions: One is for the source of the income that any income derived from a Means Test, a Public Assistance Program, SSI, TAFDC or SNAP will not be considered and the court may consider none, some, or all over-time income; even if the over-time was earned prior to entry of the Child Support Order; where the combined income is over $250,000.00.  The guideline should be applied on the first $250,000.00 and the same proportionate as the recipients and appears as actual income.


They can also now attribute income; which the Court has the authority to attribute income to the parent and the Court shall consider all relevant factors; which can include education, training, health, past employment and other factors in terms the attribution.

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Sometimes people are not sure whether they have the true figure or if it is an estimate. Unless you do a footnote or explain that it is an estimate, the court is likely to assume that your expenses and income are actual figures and that you are looking at from a reviewing of your past history.  It is okay to make it an estimate, but you need to explain somewhere that it is an estimate and why it is listed as an estimate.  Particularly, if they are things like sports memorabilia, coins and stamps should be listed. Some of the other things like used furniture may have little value, but if things have a real value then they need to be listed. Sometimes people leave out pensions and that is something that would be a significant issue or they don’t calculate the pension correctly.  You might need to have an Actuary to provide the real value of the pension. 

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