FAMILY LAW At Nassiri, Swan & Associates, P.C., our experienced attorneys can assist you in resolving your Family Law matter through negotiation or litigation. Our attorneys have the experience to provide effective counsel to our clients throughout the stages of high-stakes and emotional family and probate law matters. Whatever your family law issue, whether it is a complex divorce case, a post-divorce modification or complaint for contempt, our attorneys are knowledgeable and experienced and will quickly assess your case and work with you to create a plan to resolve your matter and allow you to move on with your life. Nassiri, Swan & Associates, P.C. Family Law practice includes: • Divorce – agreed or contested • Custody, Visitation and Removal • Alimony and Child Support • Modification of Judgment • Paternity Actions • Domestic Violence Abuse Protection • Contempt • Guardianship and Conservatorship Here at Nassiri, Swan & Associates, P.C., our multi-lingual staff of attorneys and paralegals are fluent in Spanish, Portuguese and Farsi and possess the talent, experience and diligence to guide you through all aspects of your Family Law matter. How much will my divorce cost me? The cost of the divorce will depend in large part on how much the parties can agree. If there is agreement with regard to division of assets and custody/care of any children, it will cost much less. If one of the parties is unwilling to cooperate and a lengthy legal process is required, it can take much longer. We can discuss certain cost parameters and hourly rate, but, as mentioned previously, your spouse's behavior will have an impact on the amount of time required to sufficiently resolve your case and, therefore, cost. How long will it take me to get divorced in Massachusetts? The length of time it will take to finalize your divorce cannot be predicted with certainty because a lot will depend on the behavior of your spouse (and yourself, of course). If one or both of you is unreasonable or litigious, the case will take longer. Unfortunately, the behavior of the spouses' lawyers may also lengthen the process. At Nassiri, Swan & Associates, P.C., we work to ensure that you receive thorough representation without excessive costs. Keep in mind though that, while an uncontested divorce may take only months, a divorce with contested assets or child custody issues case may take a year or two. Can my spouse prevent the divorce? Will I have to go to court? No, your spouse cannot stop the divorce. Divorce is unilateral, i.e., you cannot be compelled to stay married to someone. Your spouse can delay the divorce, however, through various tactics and strategies. Keep in mind though that many divorces do not involve a trial. Most divorce cases settle, as they should. Trials are costly both in terms of emotions and of finances and should only be a final resort to determine serious disputes. At Nassiri, Swan & Associates, P.C., we strive to provide our clients involved in a divorce the most timely, cost-effective service while ensuring that they are thoroughly represented in both asset division and child custody issues. What about custody of the children? Typically when there are minor children involved in a divorce, they will often remain with the primary caretaker parent. However, this is not absolute, and the court can award custody to either parent depending on the "best interests of the child(ren)." Getting sole legal custody, where one parent makes all of the decisions regarding the upbringing of the child, is difficult and does not automatically convey the right to permanently remove the children from the Commonwealth. Getting sole physical custody, where the child(ren) live with one parent and have visitation with another, is far more common. Where a divorce can be difficult enough on all parties involved, both parents should take the time to determine where the children’s best living arrangement would be in order to minimize the disruption in their lives. Many times, with school, after-school activities, homework, etc., it is in the best interests of the child(ren) that they are not constantly moving from one parents house to another; instead spending the week with one parent and the occasional weekend with the other. What about support for the children and spouse? Child support in Massachusetts is mandated pursuant to the child support guidelines and can be calculated quickly based on your and your spouse's gross incomes. Alimony can be awarded for any duration, including life, depending on the circumstances. Alimony awards are usually a combination of the needs of the parties and a percentage of the obligor's income. Wage assignments, if the obligor is employed, are now mandatory for child support (unless suspended by the agreement of the recipient) and prevent nonpayment. If payment is in arrears (i.e., your spouse is not paying alimony and/or child support in violation of a court order to do so), you can file a complaint for contempt with the court. Child Support Guidelines Calculation Worksheet I know that my spouse will try to hide assets, what can be done? As your legal counsel, we can act quickly to "freeze" known assets on an ex parte (without notice to the other party) basis and restrain your spouse from selling or hiding assets; appraise assets to prevent them from undervaluation; check sources of income from bank records, tax returns, credit card statements, etc.; and consider lifestyle and expenditures to impute income. However, if your spouse is very secretive and very determined, discovery will be costly and still something may slip between the cracks. Can my spouse get my inherited property when our assets are divided? In most divorce cases, probably not. Particularly if the marriage is short, most judges like to leave family assets with that spouse but may compensate in dividing other assets viewed as "joint." Because all assets, however acquired, whenever acquired, and regardless of who owns them, are by statute subject to division, do not assume that any asset is completely safe from division. The court will use an equitable guideline (what is the most fair division among the parties) as opposed to an equal (strict 50-50) division. What happens to our health insurance? As far as Massachusetts domestic relations law goes, the minor children will remain covered by present health insurance. The divorced spouse also is covered at no extra cost until such time as the insured remarries. At that time, the divorced spouse may continue on the plan, but it is usually specified that the divorced spouse will pay for the additional cost. However, this statute, G.L. c. 175, § 110I, does not apply if the employer is a self-insurer. In that case, the federal COBRA regulations apply. They provide short-term coverage, usually 18 months, at an immediate and substantial cost to the divorced spouse. (Health insurance is an increasingly important issue: the cost is escalating, and fewer parties have low-cost, continued coverage.) If alimony is awarded, judges must also require that the obligor obtain or reimburse the spouse for the cost of health insurance without reducing the alimony award. G.L. c. 208, § 34. Who will pay for college? At Nassiri, Swan & Associates, P.C., we are aware that college costs are a troublesome issue, and the answer is far from clear. You may both agree to share the costs in some equitable way depending on your respective financial circumstances at the time. It is not a good idea to commit yourself to a specific percentage or amount unless the costs are certain and the funds are not in doubt. However, a vague agreement may have to be litigated when the time to pay up arrives. Perhaps the separation agreement could contain language that you and your ex-spouse begin negotiations at the start of the child's junior year in high school to avoid "under the gun" agreements the following year. The court does have authority to enter orders until the child reaches age 23, although what financial arrangements will be ordered varies from judge to judge.