COVID-19 UPDATE

By now, you’re probably wondering how the COVID-19 is effecting the court system and our offices.  On this page is a brief compilation of all associated links, for Massachusetts and for New Hampshire. There are many directives, and resources, for you listed here.  As always, feel free to call the office with your specific questions concerning your case at (978) 225-0661 or (603) 373-0545 or email me at christine@cgdlegal.com

Also follow Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages for more up to date information as they become available.

Please also note that each office will be closed until (at least) April 3, 2020 (per the directives for schools to close through that date (https://whdh.com/news/new-hampshire-governor-directs-all-schools-to-close-transition-to-remote-learning/)  and will be re-evaluated at that time. I will be working during that time and will be accessible by both email and telephone to address both regular business and emergency concerns as well as guide clients through the court system during this time. Attendance in Court will be resolved on a case by case basis.

If you have questions regarding your case, call your attorney or the Clerk’s Office (in MA) or the court’s toll-free hotline in NH (855-212-1234).

NH: Can I Hire an Attorney During COVID-19

For my New Hampshire clients, here’s the update:   Currently, the Courts are closed.   You may not go to the court, but the Family Division is conducting some of the court's business behind closed doors.   Here’s what to expect: In an emergency situation,  you will...

MA: Can I Hire a Lawyer During COVID-19

Q: Can I hire a lawyer during COVID-19 with the courts being closed? Can they still work on my family law related case? A: Even if the court is closed, having an attorney assist you is so important.  Most importantly, you should not go through this alone.  Having an...

Massachusetts: The Annie Dookhan Drug Lab Scandal

Update: if you have not watched Netflix’s “How to Fix a Drug Scandal”, we recommend you do so. It discusses this case and the Sonja Farak case.  If you feel you have been impacted by either of these, please contact us. By now I am sure that a lot of you have heard of...

Parenting During COVID-19 FAQ

We understand this is an unusual time in our history.  We are writing FAQ's as we receive questions.  Please keep those questions coming in and we will do our best to respond.  This...

Parenting During COVID-19

How do I handle parenting time during COVID-19 and a stay-at-home mandate? The world is abuzz amidst COVID-19 and daily life seems to have changed for most of us. In fact, it's continuing to change on a regular basis.  This is a new situation - one that we have never...

Delphi Murders Update

Update: After the 3rd year anniversary of the death of Abby & Libby, there were 3 new large media stories about the murders.  Two were series type podcasts. (Scene of the Crime and Down the Hill) and one was John Walsh's In Pursuit. The goal was, with widespread...

Substance Abuse and Parenting

A parent or other caregiver with an alcohol or drug addiction has a profound impact on their children.  Substance abuse and parenting are more common than most people realize.  Unfortunately, the parent does not always see that his or her behavior is harmful or won’t...

Does Your Child Need Her Own Lawyer?

There are times during the separation of two parents that a child is completely thrown into the middle of the situation.  Neither parent intends to do this to the child.  In fact, often neither parent realizes that the child is in the middle of their war.  The child...

Making an Appeal in Massachusetts

Update: In recent news, Avery's attorneys have submitted a number of appeals documents.  Several of these have been denied, however it appears one or more of these are still winding their ways up through the Appeals Courts.  Brandan Dassey, however, may have exhausted...

Update! Still Missing – Maura Murray

January 2020 Update: We told you we would keep you updated on anything related to Maura's case and we have a bit of information to share.  Bill Rausch was Maura's boyfriend at the time of her disappearance.  He has long been named in several physical and/or sexual...

Getting a Divorce Without Notifying the Spouse

The heading reads: "Man Got Divorced Without Ever Telling His Wife, Police Say".  (https://www.wmur.com/article/man-got-divorced-without-ever-telling-his-wife-police-say/29101534).  That title holds a lot of information.  Just reading the first part of the...

Parental Rights – Surrender vs. Termination in NH

Being a parent is one of the most wonderful gifts in the world.  As such, Courts are reluctant to come between a parent and a child.  However, there are times when the court will remove a parent's rights.  This is known as a termination of parental rights.  There are...

Free Consultation: Is it Worth It?

We often read other articles and posts and we came across a series of discussions recently debating whether or not there was a benefit to contacting an attorney for a free consultation.  While not all lawyers offer this service, our office does offer this service.  We...

Paying Child Support Without a Court Order

Paying child support without a court order Paying child support without a court order is a question that comes up very often in my practice.  This can apply anytime there is a child between two people, whether the couple is married, or unmarried.  Here is a common...

Things To Know About Your Family Lawyer

Family law can encompass many aspects of law.  It covers divorce, child custody, separation agreements, post and pre nuptials and much more.  Some families have an attorney they can go to for  estate planning.  As you can see family law is a wide field so it's...

Topics You Should Discuss With Your Divorce Lawyer

Hiring a divorce lawyer is the first important step in a long list of your divorce. Once you retain a lawyer it is vitally important that you communicate openly and honestly with her.  She is there to to advocate for you to get the best solution for your situation. We...

The Importance of an Appeal

Aaron Hernandez, famed football player who was convicted of murder and later, committed suicide has, once again, been in the news.  You may recall that before his death, his murder conviction was working its way through the stages of the Appeal's Court.  Aaron...

5 Appeals Cases To Follow and Why

Although there are a number of high profile wrongful conviction cases in the news, they are still a small percentage of all convictions. The news media would like to have us believe that all police investigations are tainted and that all detectives are on the take...

Quality Time With Kids

Children of divorced or separated parents have a bum rap.  There is just no other way to state it.  No matter what parents do, kids dream of having mom and dad together.  Behind the scenes this is not always the best solution for the children so what is the best plan...

Missing Mollie – Trial Update

UPDATE According to the Des Moines Register, a trial date has been set for the man accused of abducting and killing Mollie Tibbetts.  The trial date is set for April 16th, 2019.  He is accused of kidnapping and killing Mollie while she was out for a run.  Updates can...

Is It Safe To Leave an Abusive Marriage?

A co-worker, "Pat",  confides to you during lunch one day that her "marital bliss" has all been a sham and that she thinks she has just learned to accept her husband's abusive behavior.  All of the stories she shares at work about her family are lies and have been for...

The Queen Had Soul But No Will

Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, was recently laid to rest.  Her service was like no other in our history.  Musicians from all genres came out to pay respects with praise and song for a women who battled against the odds to become one of the true legends of our...

Convicted of OUI May Get New Trial

If you follow our blogs or the local news, you may have read about an issue involving the breathalyzers used in Massachusetts for the detection of alcohol. The Draeger Alcotest 9510 is being challenged by defense attorneys, alleging that the results may be inaccurate...

West Memphis 3 – Reopening of Original Murder Case

UPDATE April 2020: Oxygen Network aired its long awaited show about this case.  It featured Bob Ruff's Truth & Justice working with famed former FBI profiler Jim Clemente and others to re-start an investigation in a manner they believe it should have been done...

Who is Using Your DNA?

Who is using your DNA? If you have watched any television recently, you may have noticed an increase in the DNA profile commercials.  You know the ones – “I thought I was from Italy, but turns out I am mostly Scottish” and they promote that you can also learn your...

Should I contact an Attorney about Divorce?

If you’re having trouble in your marriage, you feel overwhelmed.  You feel like it's going to get better, yet it never does.  Your friends and family may be unaware of the true depth of your situation.  Often this is when you may think: "should I contact an attorney...

Social Media and Legal Action

The biggest piece of advice that I can give to a client is to refrain from social media when you are involved in litigation.  Be it a criminal case, a divorce, a restraining order – no matter what type of case, the best bet is always to stay silent.  Clients are often...

Should You Ask For a Lawyer?

Asking for an attorney, whether you have committed a crime or not, is not only smart - it's YOUR right.  In spite of news media or the way TV portrays our legal justice system, the right to counsel is one of the most fundamental parts of our justice system.  Every...

Termination of Parental Rights

Separation and divorce are never easy times for a couple in distress.  Couples may be disagreeing over money, their relationship and everything in between.  I often receive calls asking about the "termination of parental rights".  What I learn after listening to the...

Statutes, Retrials & Double Jeopardy

If you have seen the news this week, you may have noticed that actor and comedian Bill Cosby is back in court over charges of sexual assault.  While that may not be big news, the overall landscape regarding his crimes is big news.  His alleged crimes, the way they...

Communicating on Social Media During Divorce

If you have read the news recently, you probably noticed that social media has come under fire for a couple of things.  First, social media outlets have been accused of creating fake news.  Second,  Facebook has been accused of allowing hackers to integrate its system...

What To Do (and Not Do) If Your Spouse Is Cheating

It’s a difficult prospect to think that your spouse may have strayed from your marriage.  Most people find this shocking and upsetting, not knowing what to do (and what not to do)  if your spouse is cheating.  It's hard to decide at that moment about your marriage,...

Can I be arrested for a warrant in Massachusetts if I go to the local DMV in Massachusetts?

Q:  Can I be arrested for a misdemeanor warrant in Massachusetts if I go to the local DMV in Massachusetts? If there is a warrant, you can be arrested at any time. They don't specifically have people standing by to take you into custody at the DMV, but certainly, law...

Family Vacation After the Divorce

The reality of a divorce or separation often hits families the hardest over holidays and vacation time.  Family vacations may have been where many memories were created over the years.  Now, after a breakup of the family, it's an emotional time since nobody is quite...

The New Tax Bill & Alimony

It's a new year and we thought we would start it off with an article about something that's been all over the news for weeks - the new tax bill.  Some love it.  Some hate it.  Some have no idea that there is a new tax bill.  One thing is for sure: there will be...

Protecting Your Children From Sexual Predators – Part III

In our last two related posts, we wrote about ways you can take precautions to protect your child from sexual predators who are related to the child - either by blood or marriage or are acquaintances to you or your child.  In this third and final article of this three...

2017 Child Support Guidelines – Part 3

In part 3 of our series on the 2017 Child Support Guidelines, we will be addressing child support for children between 18-23 years old and parental contribution to post-secondary educational expenses. If you would like to read about other changes, please see Part 1 -...

New Child Support Guidelines 2017 – Part 2

Welcome back to part 2 of our series on the new Child Support Guidelines (2017 version).  This section will address the increase to the minimum child support order.  If you missed our previous article, you can find it here, at:  New Guidelines Overview. Increase of...

2017 Child Support Guidelines – Overview

As most of you know, the new version of the child support guidelines has now been released and were effective beginning September 15, 2017.  Every four years, a task force reviews input and issue regarding the guidelines, making changes to accommodate problematic,...

Protecting Your Children From Sexual Predators – Part II

In our last post, we wrote about ways you can take precautions to protect your child from sexual predators who are related to the child - either by blood or marriage.  In the second article of this three part series, we will discuss protecting your children from...

Protecting Your Children From Sexual Predators

Protecting Your Children From Sexual Predators Over the past few years, we have seen horrible stories pertaining to children who were abused by either those they trusted or others, whom they felt they could trust.  In recent months, the singer R. Kelly has once again...

Appeal a Judgment

I recently came across this article "How to Appeal a Judgment without an Attorney."  Being fairly intrigued, I read the article looking for holes that I could use in writing this post.  However, I must admit, it was well written and it was thorough.  It began by...

Letting Go After Your Divorce

Divorce can be devastating even when both parties agree. Letting go after your divorce is difficult at best.  It's an emotional roller coaster, particularly when children are involved.  Sometimes, one party has been the "fixer" in the relationship; the one who has...

Arsdale Appeals and Alimony

Recently two new cases came down from our SJC that you should be aware of, both relating to alimony. The first, SUSAN VAN ARSDALE vs. WILLIAM VAN ARSDALE, focused on the constitutionality of durational limits of alimony applied retroactively.* To examine the...

Legal Meaning of the Cosby Mistrial

I’m sure you’ve all heard by now that Bill Cosby’s trial resulted in a mistrial on Saturday.   The jury came back to the judge, for the second time, on Saturday and informed him that they could not reach a verdict.  As a result, the Court declared a “mistrial.” So,...

Blanchette: Case on Appeal

Recently the New Hampshire Supreme Court overturned the conviction of Ernest Justin Blanchette, a former deputy sheriff charged with sexual assault of an inmate during transport from the Belknap County jail to the state prison for women in Goffstown. This case shows...

Can You Get a Divorce Reversed?

Sometimes one or more parties to a divorce will be unhappy with the results of the divorce order and may wish to have the result reconsidered.  For whatever reason the question becomes "can you get a divorce reversed?".  This process of having the order reconsidered...

Relocating with Children After Divorce

Clients often tell me that when their divorce is complete they are "done with marriage".  The hurt has jaded them.  The fight over custody, home, financial assets, and more has left them emotionally void.  Until next time, that is.  People have a wonderful ability to...

Losing Custody of Your Child

Losing custody of your child is one of the most heart-wrenching things a parent can endure.  As a family attorney, I am often asked about the types of things that will result in losing custody of your child.  This article will point out a few actions that can lead to...

​ Can you get a restraining order on behalf of your child?

​As a parent it is our number one job to protect our children. In today's world, with all of the technology, there are more ways than ever for a child to be targeted. Children can be targeted by their own peers, by adults pretending to be other children or by...

Custody Case Takes a Turn – The Brad Pitt Saga

If you’re not living under a rock, and if you are a loyal reader here on my site, I am sure you’ve heard about the custody battle between Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Some months ago, Angelina claimed that Brad abused their child and sought full custody of all six...

For my Massachusetts Divorce, do I need my marriage certificate?

In Massachusetts, when you file a Complaint for Divorce, you must also file a certified copy of your marriage certificate. You may want to keep your copy or you may not have it. So, how do you get one? This is an easy issue to resolve. Contact the city hall in the...

Is Your Child Being Abused?

A common worry for parents often centers around protecting their child from people who prey on children.   Most children spend their days away from their parents in the care of others, in school, kindergarten, daycare and so forth.  So, what if you suddenly notice...

Legal Lessons From a Mistress

The following is from someone who asked to share her story so others could learn from her Legal Lessons From a Mistress. Several years ago I went through a nasty divorce after 17 years of marriage.  At the end of it, I vowed never to allow myself to fall for another...

Parenting Your Special Needs Child

Penny and Zach had a stormy relationship from day one.  They argued over food, traveling and holidays.  After they were married, they could not agree on anything except their child's name.    When Baby Levi was 3 and still behind developmentally, Penny sought out...

What is the Automatic Restraining Order?

When a Divorce is filed, an automatic restraining order on assets immediately applies. This prohibits you, and your spouse, from encumbering, selling or transferring certain marital assets during the pendency of the divorce proceedings. Notice of this automatic...

What Constitutes Parental Abduction?

It's a sickening thought, wondering if your child may be abducted by your ex-spouse and taken without your consent, outside of the court's order, maybe even across state lines. Parental abduction is a form of kidnapping in many states.  But what are your legal rights...

Supervised Visitation: The Brad and Angelina Case

Brad and Angelina I’m sure you’ve seen recently that Brad and Angelina have made strides in settling their parenting agreement.  Angelina is maintaining primary custody of the children.  Brad will have “therapeutic visits” with the kids.   Basically, that amounts to...

Is Sexting Cheating?

Some say it's harmless; just flirting and having fun.  Others say it's much more than that - it's a form of cheating whether there is physical contact or not.  While the term "sexting" is certainly not new, it has been in the media more in recent weeks, both with the...

Custody: Can My Child Decide?

Very often I am asked “when can my child decide choose where he lives?” or “at what age will the Court listen to my children’s input?” The short answer to this question is that there is no “magic age” to answer "can my child decided" which the court will let the child...

Can My Childs Dad Go To NH Court for Physical Custody?

Question: I am moving to NH can my childs dad go to NH court and try and get 50 physical custody? He has shared legal right now. Answer: If you have an order, it might address this issue. Look within it to see if it talks about either party moving his or her residence...

Can I Stop Him From Selling Our Home While Child Is Still in School?

Question: My husband moved out of our home two years ago and moved in with another woman. We have guardianship of my granddaughter who will be graduating from high school in 2018. she is going to be going to college after she graduates. My husband said that as soon as...

Brangelina: What If They Divorced in Massachusetts?

I can’t imagine you’ve listened to the news or radio over the past week without having heard something about the pending divorce of Brad Pitt and Angelia Jolie.  The two separated recently and Jolie filed for divorce.  It's become a nasty case with all sorts of...

Cheating Spouse: How Do You Know?

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have been all over the news lately about their divorce.  There have been numerous reasons cited for the divorce.  Everything from drug abuse to physical abuse to affairs.   Both have been married AND divorced more than once.  In this and...

Can an Attorney Represent Both Parties in a Divorce

I receive calls frequently from potential clients who are seeking an attorney to counsel the parties, together, for a divorce. This happens for a variety of reasons. You want to save money. You feel as if you are in agreement on many of the issues. You want the...

Parental Alienation: Divorce and Custody Series

Divorce can have a variety of effects for both parents and children. Children often feel misplaced and at fault so it’s the parents’ responsibility to assure the child that the causes of the divorce were not related to the children at all. Unfortunately, some parents...

Physical Custody

Series Part II - Physical custody/Residential responsibility Often people come to me and want “sole custody” of their child.  I wrote last week about sole legal custody (MA) and decision making (NH).  This article will continue that series discussing  physical custody...

I Want Her Out Now!

I want him/her out - now! When a married couple agrees to divorce, it signals the end of the union. However, it is easy to recognize that there are still many unanswered questions. I am often  asked this question by one of the parties: "We have already agreed the...

Should Siblings Be Separated by Divorce

When a couple divorces, it is difficult on the entire family.  Often it can be most difficult for the children of the marriage.  Depending on the age of the children, someone has to decide where they will live.  Typically, couples split and the children stay together...

Parental Alienation – Things to Watch

Over the recent month I have written about parental alienation in a couple of articles.  It is one of those painful situations for both the parents and the children and it's something that does not have to happen at all.  Often the process begins slowly and builds...

Who Gets Our Family Dog in the Divorce?

It's a common scenario.  Boy meets girl and they fall in love.  They buy a home or rent an apartment.  Wanting to share their love, they adopt a dog. Over the next year or so, they get married.  Their dog is their baby.  They share photos of him on social media sites,...

After Divorce: Why is my Child So Angry?

Part of my practice in family law deals in working with parents after the divorce and the adjustment of the families after the "dust settles", so the speak.  Often the parents move on with the lives but the child of that previous marriage has a difficult time dealing...

What is Sole Custody?

Often people come to me and want “sole custody” of their child.  What does this mean?  Is it often awarded?  Why? How can you convince the Court to award it to you?  Sole Legal Custody in MA:   In Massachusetts, the Court will award “legal” custody, which refers...

What Does Child Support Cover? Part I

Paying child support is a double-edged sword.  Parents are court ordered to pay but have little, or no, say-so on how it is spent day to day.  There are some court mandated requirements governing child support and because I receive many inquires about it, this is part...

Annulment: Legal vs Religious

Annulment:  Legal versus Religious – an important distinction In the past  I wrote an article about annulment in each state:  Massachusetts and New Hampshire.  As I wrapped up the last article, I realized that I should discuss just one more point about annulment that...

Parental Alienation: the Aftermath

In a previous article, I wrote about  parental alienation.  It is one of the most vicious things a parent can do to another parent because it can  destroy the relationship between the parent and their child.  That destruction may begin at an early age or later in life...

What does Child Support Cover: Medical Bills

We are continuing the series about Child Support and the things it covers.  This article will focus on expenses incurred that are outside the actual child support payment but perhaps still required by the court as a form of supporting your child.  Our previous article...

Keep Your Divorce A Private Matter

You have probably seen it in the news.  Johnny Depp and his wife are divorcing.  You may have even searched for details of the settlement.  After all, he's bound to be worth millions (or more!?)!!  How are they going to split that vast estate?  Well, you may have...

Can I get an Annulment, please?

What is an Annulment? In Massachusetts, an annulment is a statement by the Court that you were never legally married. Unlike divorce, which acknowledges that you were married and then terminates that marriage, annulment it is as if the marriage never happened. ...

Questions You Should Ask Your Divorce Attorney

When seeking a divorce attorney, there are a million questions running through your mind.  It’s wise to make a list of the topics you wish to address so that you can make the most of your time together.  Here are some questions you should be sure make that list: 1. ...

Do I Need a Holiday Schedule?

Question: Do I need a holiday schedule in my parenting plan/divorce agreement? I see this question a lot in my practice, particularly where the parties seem to be working together and getting along well during the time that they are drafting an agreement.  We can work...

Who wants a Life Estate?

I am sure that you’ve all heard the recent news that Hugh Hefner put the Playboy Mansion up for sale.  For a mere $200 mill, you can purchase the mansion and call it your own – with one catch!  Hugh will live out the remainder of his life at the mansion before you can...

New Hampshire: Child Impact Seminar – Updated Link

In New Hampshire, all parties to a divorce, or any case that surrounds parental rights, activities and/or responsibilities, must attend the Child Impact Program. This program is an educational program.  It is four hours long and discusses methods to help your child...

Massachusetts: Parent Education Program Attendance

All parties to a divorce action in which there are minor children, are ordered to attend and participate in an approved Massachusetts Parent Education Program. This requirement applies to divorces brought under Ch. 208 §1 (fault divorces); and Ch. 208 §1A and §1B...

Avoiding Legal Issues

In my previous article, “What Type of Attorney Should I Hire,” I wrote about the importance of speaking with an attorney early on in your case to maximize any potential outcome you may have as well as choosing the right attorney for the type of situation, rather than...

What Type of Attorney Should I Hire?

This article is part of a series about why it's important to hire an attorney and the reasons behind hiring an attorney.  The purpose of this series is to help you determine the types of situations where a lawyer is most needed and to know when to reach out for...

Just When We Thought He Was Beyond Reach

By now you may have heard that Bill Cosby was recently criminally charged by one of the women who claims that she was drugged and touched by him in the past.  The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania charged Bill Cosby today with aggravated indecent assault, sneaking the...

Wait! We Didn’t Mean to Divorce! Can’t We Get a Do-Over?

During the month of December, the New Hampshire Supreme Court upheld a lower Court’s decision that a couple cannot “un-divorce,” or “vacate” their divorce, by joint motion to the Court. In this particular case, a couple that had divorced after 24 years of marriage...

Divorce After 50

Picture This:  You married your high school sweetheart.  You settled down and had a couple of kids early in life whom are now out of school and have families of their own.  Through the early years of your marriage things were great, but as you both matured, and the...

How to Survive the Holidays During Divorce

The holidays are a time for family.  It's supposed to be a time to look back and reflect on those wonderful memories together.  When you are in the midst of a divorce, or you’ve recently completed the divorce process, it's not always easy to recall those happier...

Should I Use Software Law Rather than an Attorney?

When I was in law school, my brother gave me a box of software used for estate planning as a gift. He thought that since I was in my first year of law school, it would be a great way to analyze the documents that are used, learn about the process, etc. Though a very...

Child Support and Attribution of Income

I hear this statement a lot (more out of frustration than anything else):  “You can’t get blood from a stone. I will just quit my job and she won’t get any support!”   It sounds like the perfect move in theory.   Too bad that it is not true!  Child support and...

Child Support: Two Part Series on Common Issues – Intro

Certain questions become very common in the practice of divorce and parenting.  Particularly with the commonality of changing jobs more often than in the past and second marriages and/or new relationships post-divorce, issues rise that may not have been an issue many...

What Happens If a Spouse Dies During Divorce

Over the past few days, we’ve seen a “celebrated” story that reminds me of a topic that arises every so often within my practice.  Have you seen the stories about Lamar Odom fighting for his life after being found unresponsive earlier this week?  The media reports...

Children and Divorce: It’s Me or Her!

Moving on after a divorce by pursuing  a new relationship can be difficult for the children of the previous marriage.  While the parents may be ready, even eager, to move on and engage in new relationships, a child can only see how the breakup of the marriage affects...

Expectations after Divorce

           In a relationship, we have certain expectations of our spouse, our partner and perhaps the other parent to our children. Often, the other party will try to do what you’d like. But what happens when the relationship is no longer? Is it realistic to have the...

Who Gets the Engagement Ring?

The contemplation of marriage, instituted by the engagement of the parties, traditionally brings with it an engagement ring given from one to another.  Some have sentimental value:  engagement rings are handed down and are often heirlooms.  An engagement ring may have...

Divorce: Moving on When Others Won’t

Divorce is rough.  It's an emotional roller coaster for everyone involved.  Just getting to the point where a couple decides that divorce is the only solution left is often devastating.  After the dust settles, and the divorce is completely finalized, both parties are...

Should I Stay Married For the Sake of My Children?

I often see the question posed to me in the middle of a conversation with a potential client, current client or even an acquaintance who knows I practice family law:  should I stay married for the sake of my children?  Should I wait until they are older before we...

How do you defeat a prenuptial agreement? (The Bobby Flay Story)

How do you defeat a prenuptial agreement? I’m sure that you’ve seen the latest celebrity news scandal about Bobby Flay and his wife, Stephanie March: Bobby allegedly cheated on her with various women and has now filed for divorce (just after being thrown out of the...

Can my parents get their money back that they loaned us when we got married?

My parents lent my husband & I money while we were married. I now want to make sure that they get their money back during our divorce. Can my parents get their money back that they loaned us when we got married? Maybe. If your parents lent money to either or both...

Should You Date Before Your Divorce Is Final?

You filed a Complaint for Divorce and are ready to move on with your life. Should you date before your divorce is final?  Can dating someone hurt you while you are going through the divorce process? Could dating hurt you at all? Although it is always best to wait...

The Only Person that can Change a Court Order is the Court!

I come across this issue fairly often, many different contexts, and decided that it was a great issue to discuss here. It is very clear in all contexts. If you are subject to a Court’s Order, that Order remains effective until 1) that order expires or 2) the Court...

Can my spouse take my inheritance when we divorce?

Can my spouse take my inheritance when we divorce? Often my clients arrive concerned for their divorce consultations and are very worried about their spouse taking an inheritance that they received during the marriage. Will my husband take a portion of this money when...

What Does Full Disclosure Mean for My Divorce?

Each litigant involved in a paternity or divorce action is required to complete and submit a form to the Court, and the opposing party, must provide “full disclosure" of your financial information.  In Massachusetts it is known as a financial statement.  In New...

How to Complete a Financial Statement

One of the biggest concerns in family court is the creation of a financial statement (or in New Hampshire, a financial affidavit). I see clients stress day after day about the information to include, the necessary documents and the mandated disclosure. Here are some...

Why Family Should Not Provide Your Legal Representation

It's a common situation.  A person is in need of legal representation for one reason or another, and because of restricted funds, reaches out to a family member who is also an attorney.  The family member, be it a brother, sister, aunt, uncle, parent or child, wants...

When Children Take on Parenting: After Effects of Divorce

The son of recently divorced parents finds Mom crying in the kitchen.  "What's wrong, Mom?" he asks.  "Your Dad doesn't love me.  He has a  new girlfriend. How could he do that to us?"  The boy is angered and hurt.  He hugs his mother as she cries.  He consoles her in...

Prenuptial Agreements: Why Would I Want That?

It's hard to think that a divorce might happen when you are in the midst of planning your marriage and happily dreaming about the rest of your life, isn’t it?  How do you plan a happy life while deciding what to do if it all goes south?  The problem is that most...

I Want to Fire My Lawyer!

If you have every said "I want to fire my lawyer, you are not alone".  Many times during a case it can seem confusing or overwhelming.  If you are frustrated or dissatisfied with your attorney, are not happy with the speed, outcome or method of the case, or are at the...

You Want Me to Communicate with Her? You Don’t Know My Wife!

Sound familiar?  I hear this comment on a regular basis.  It seems counter intuitive to ask that a couple going through a divorce, sometimes a contested and harsh divorce, do the unthinkable - talk to one another.  But that's exactly what I ask of my clients.  You...

My husband filed for divorce and tells me I have to leave. Do I?

Question:  My husband filed for divorce. He had me served with the papers at my office. I did not know this was coming and he tells me I have to be the one to leave our home – with our children! He says this is his home. NH: Do not leave your home. You don’t have to...

I am going to file for divorce myself. I may hire a lawyer later. However, when do I have to move out of the home?

This is a tough question to answer without knowing more about your case. The status of the marital home varies from case to case and is different in New Hampshire than it is in Massachusetts. Is the home being sold? If so, by whom and when? Is your spouse keeping the...

If I signed my parental rights away can I get them back?

I often get questions from overwhelmed parents who feel that, for one reason or another, it would be in the best interest of everyone concerned, if they just give up their parental rights (see my other article for more details on this complex subject).  However, many...

Divorce and Drama…oh the Drama!

We laugh about it when we see it on TV.  We shake our heads in disbelief when our friends tell us about it in their lives.  But suddenly, you find yourself in the midst of a divorce and right smack in the middle of a real life reality drama series just like those made...

Massachusetts Complaint for Contempt – Serve that Summons!

Many times a case gets dismissed for failure to provide adequate notice to the other party that a complaint has been filed.  This is because the the other party has a right to be given notice of any actions taken against them or that they are named in a proceeding. ...

Five Tips for Attending Court

Often I am asked "what do I wear?" or "is there anything that I need to know about going to Court?" Below are tips for attending Court that I find rather useful. 1. Dress appropriately. It is not necessary to wear a suit or formal outfit to Court. Wear an outfit that...

Changing Your Name After Divorce

Many things change when you get married.  One of those is often the changing of your last name.  If you changed your last name to your husband’s last name upon marriage, you now have a decision of whether to return to your maiden name or continue using your married...

My best divorce advice: Don’t listen to your family & friends!

Sounds silly, right? It’s the best divorce advice that any attorney can give is don't listen to your family & friends. Your family and friends always want what’s best for you. They are there to love and support you. You look to them for help and guidance. When you...

Fight For Your Right – For Child Support

I get calls from clients on a regular basis who ask me if they should "go after" child support.  Some clients are preparing for a divorce, some are previously divorced and others are parents who were never married.  There are a couple of things to point out here. If...

When to seek counseling for your child?

Divorce and separation issues are very hard on children.  Whether parents are starting the divorce, discussing the break up or have already gone their individual ways, children are often assumed to be in the dark about the whole situation.  Nothing could be further...

Myths of Divorce

If you are considering divorce or even in the middle of one, it's critical that you are receiving good advice.  Advice from family and friends may seem helpful but can lead you down the wrong path.  Tips from the bar around the corner are even worse and sometimes...

What is the role of a Guardian Ad Litem in Massachusetts?

I recently received a question on our website about how much input a GAL (Guardian Ad Litem) has with a judge during a divorce and custody case.  That's a complex issue so rather than write a quick answer to the question, I decided to write about it here on our blog....

I missed my (criminal) court date! What do I do?

You’re going about your day and suddenly realize that you were supposed to be in court. Last week. You thought it was next week, but it was actually last week. Oh no! What do I do!? First, understand that you are in default and a warrant has likely been issued for...

Estate Planning After Divorce

Estate Planning After Divorce After a divorce, the last thing that anyone wants to think about is seeing an attorney, legal matters, planning the future, that sort of thing. The sad truth is that this is probably the most important time to get your estate plan revised...

Surviving Divorce Through the Holidays

Happy Holidays! – even during divorce. ​“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” During a divorce, or even after a divorce, the holidays can be a very difficult time of the year. Since the holidays are upon us, here are a few pointers to keep your kids happy, save...

Massachusetts: How does Separate Support Differ from Divorce?

In Massachusetts, I am often asked about the difference between Separate Support and Divorce.  Actions for Separate Support and Divorce are two very distinct options that are separate filings in the Probate & Family Court. It is important to understand the...

Can I sign away my rights to my child?

I am asked the question, "can I sign away my rights to my child" rather often, whether it be asked by the father or the mother of a child. Here’s an example of what I see in my practice: You were in a relationship where a child was conceived and you have been...

Creating an Irrevocable Trust Can Save Your Loved Ones

The words "irrevocable trust" often seem intimidating to many of my clients.  However, when used properly, this can be an effective estate planning tool.   If designed properly, it can prevent an estate from staying tied up in probate for years.  It can help families...

Massachusetts OUI Laws

People often ask me what can happen in the event they (or a family member or friend) are pulled over and suspected of operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol.  Here is some information from the Massachusetts website to help explain the Massachusetts OUI...

CWOF – May I have another?

A while back I wrote an article telling you about a CWOF. What is it? How does it work? What does it entail? You can check that article out here: What is a CWOF.   Recently I have had a number of questions about the process of CWOF, including whether it can be done a...

Supreme Judicial Court Announces Interim Procedure for Attorney and Self-Represented Party Participation in Juror Voir Dire

Supreme Judicial Court Announces Interim Procedure for Attorney and Self-Represented Party Participation in Juror Voir Dire BOSTON, MA – The Supreme Judicial Court today announced an interim procedure to implement a new statute, St. 2014, Chapter 254, Section 2, which...

Massachusetts: The Alimony Reform Act

A recent hot topic in family law is alimony. I’m sure a lot of you have heard of the proposed legislation known as the Alimony Reform Act. This Act aims to define, clarify and guide the Courts, and the litigants, regarding certain aspects of alimony. Amongst other...

Can I lose my inheritance to child support?

Can I lose my inheritance to child support? The question you are asking can also be stated as:  Can the Court award child support based on the money I received in an inheritance? Child support is based on income. It is not based on gifts or inheritances.  For example,...

Massachusetts: Joint Petition or Complaint for Divorce

In Massachusetts, there are two ways by which a party can file for a divorce. The first is commonly known as a “joint petition.” The second is commonly referred to as a “complaint for divorce.” A “joint petition” is filed when the parties agree on how to resolve all...

Can I Keep My Home

In the first part of this series, we discussed the marital home and what happens in a divorce to that home.  Click here for our last article- What Happens to the Family Home in a Divorce.  Continuing that series, we will start with the next question which involves...

Save Money During Divorce

How to Save Money During Divorce Gather/organize/prepare. During the process, there will be requests for information and documents. When you receive these, take the time to gather everything, organize it and prepare it in accordance with your attorney’s directions.  ...

What Happens to the Family Home in a Divorce?

A large concern during divorce consultation is the marital home. What will happen? Can I stay? Will I be forced out? Can I afford it? How will the Court decide to which party the home is awarded? The answers to these questions will often determine the outcome of other...

Can my husband force me to sell our marital home?

This question is dependent on many factors. The very general answer is that the home will be awarded to one party or sold to a third party.  To decide what will happen, the Court will look to the wishes of the parties (who wants to stay in the home?), the ability to...

Can my wife take my inheritance in the divorce?

Very popular question!  I often get this question - can my wife take my inheritance in the divorce? or can my husband take my inheritance in the divorce? In my experience, most judges look to keep “family money” within a family.  If your parents saved their entire...

Why Do I Need a Trust?

Welcome back to my series on estate planning. I hope that our articles have been helpful and informative. If anything else, I want to spark thought on this topic and help you begin deciding what you’d like to see happen when you are gone. Okay, let’s get to Trusts! I...

Marital Property: What is it?

Far too often I meet with a client for consultation who is concerned that a certain asset is not a marital asset because it is not “in [their] name.” A client may say “well, we have a home but it is in his name only” or “I don’t have a retirement account, but she...

My ex won’t pay child support. Can I refuse to let him see the kids?

My  ex won’t pay child support. Can I refuse to let him see our daughter? Absolutely not! If you do it, you are in contempt. Child support and parenting time are two separate issues. If there is an order for support and an order for parenting time, each of the parties...

Why do I need a Will?

Why do I need a Will? Welcome back to my series on estate planning. In case you are just joining me, I want to let you know that we are mid-series in a string of articles about estate planning. Page back to Why do I need an Estate  and see what you’ve missed and stick...

Why Do I Need an Estate Plan?

Recall in our first article on estate planning that we introduced you to some general information question about estate planning.  Let’s start our series out now with a very basic question: Why do I need an estate plan? This is a very reasonable question! I think that...

Estate Planning in Detail

Since estate planning is on my mind this week, I decided to feature a series of blogs that will give information about the many areas of estate planning in detail.  With these general guidelines and information, it is my hope to lessen the stigma of estate planning so...

What qualities do I look for when hiring an attorney?

Choosing an attorney is not a simple process. Do your best to make a good decision at the outset of your case and you will win in the long run with a respected advocate on your side and confidence in every decision that you make along the way. Generally speaking, you...

Am I Going To Jail for Shoplifting?

Many times I speak to a new client that is charged in a criminal case and their main concern is “am I going to jail?”   That is a logical question when you commit a criminal act.  It is entirely dependent on a number of key factors. Let me guide you through the...

What is a CWOF? Continuance Without a Finding

People often ask me "What is a CWOF?" in Massachusetts?  It's a funny term but it's really just an acronym.  A CWOF is a “continuance without a finding.” This is a disposition that is meant for a first time offender, one that has not had a criminal matter in a long...

Do I have to pay child support without a court order?

Do I have to pay child support without a court order?  This is a question that I see often in my practice. The answer is two-fold: there’s the legal advice and the practical advice. Picture this:  you and your partner have separated. You’ve moved out of the home. ...

Can I stop paying my child support without going to Court?

Often things happen that makes a parent think that they are no longer required to pay child support. A daughter joins the military. A son drops out of college. A child graduates high school and is going to college part time and working part time but still living with...

Estate Planning: Planning Ahead

Nobody wants to think about their death. It's unpleasant no matter how you look at it.  However, planning ahead is more than simply dividing up your worldly assets.  It can ensure that your children are cared for by the person that you prefer. Planning ahead can...

Massachusetts Contempt: Need to Know

 Massachusetts Contempt: What is it? How do I address it? What are the remedies? I hear people use the word “contempt” all of the time, but there is a lot of confusion about contempt and what to do about contempt. Here’s more information about this issue. What is it? ...

Visitation: Part 1: What happens if a parent never shows up for visitation?

     While you hate to give up time with your child, you know that the visitation with his other parent is good for their relationship, can be a very positive thing and (let’s face it) is a little break for you. Even if you don’t look forward to that time when your...

The Safe Driving Law in Massachusetts

There is a lot of press recently about texting while driving all over our country but particularly in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Many states have banned texting while driving. There are commercials on TV about texting while driving. There are signs on the...

Shared Physical Custody: A Growing Trend

Years ago, when a couple parted ways, it was simply assumed that the children would live with their mother and have visitation with their father. Typically, the father's visitation with his children was for two weekends per month and if feasible for him, a "dinner...

Paternity: How can I establish paternity of my child?

If you are wondering how to establish paternity of your child, chances are, you have read up on some of the variety of ways and may have become confused on the right path to take.  There are a number of valid ways you can go about this and there are good reasons on...

Changing Attorneys Mid-Case

Changing Attorneys Mid-Case Often, folks just like you call me part way through a divorce, or even after a divorce is over, that say that are not satisfied with their attorney.  Most people feel that if they have hired someone, they “probably shouldn’t” switch...

What are temporary orders in Massachusetts?

What are temporary orders in Massachusetts? ​When a divorce begins, rarely do the parties consider temporary orders in Massachusetts to be a necessity, however they ask the court for many things.  When the divorce begins, the parties rarely sit in a position to agree...

Divorce Without Consent: Can I divorce without my spouse’s consent?

A very common question is whether you can get divorce without consent.  Of course! The old adage that you need your spouse to “give you a divorce” is no longer. You can proceed with a divorce even if the other party does not want to divorce. You don’t need a spouse’s...

Modification: The In’s and Out’s

As life changes, you may find yourself in a situation where your current order (or judgment) no longer applies to your circumstances or seems fair, given your life changes. If you find yourself in this situation, speak with an attorney to determine if you would...

Grandparent’s Rights in Massachusetts

The issue of visitation rights for grandparent’s rights is governed by Massachusetts G.L. c. 119, s. 39D. Grandparents may seek visitation, “grandparent’s rights,” through the Court with their “unmarried minor” grandchildren if: (1) the parents are divorced, married...

How to Build Financial Security When Facing Divorce

How to Build Financial Security When Facing Divorce If you see divorce or separation looming in your future, there are ways to plan ahead and build financial security to prepare for what could be a financially difficult time ahead.   Here are some tips for you to...

Family Law: How to Choose Your Attorney

Your family is the most important thing in your life.  Whether you are facing a divorce or a custody battle or a child support dispute, you want to have the “right” attorney by your side through this very difficult process.  So, how do you decide?   Here are some...

A Child’s Right to Decide: New Hampshire

New Hampshire: When can my children decide in whose home they want to live? Okay,  New Hampshire readers – I promised you would hear my thoughts on a child's right to decide shortly, so here it is. The law in New Hampshire is different than that in Massachusetts. Read...

Can a Child Choose Their Parent After Divorce in Massachusetts

Massachusetts : When can my children decide in whose home they want to live? Often I am asked "can a child choose their parent after the divorce"?, so I thought this would be a great topic of discussion.  It is important to remember that each state handles this...

Divorce and Social Media: Don’t

Whether you are simply contemplating the idea of divorce or in the middle of a full-on legal battle, your best bet with your social media accounts is to disconnect them.  Turn them off.  Shut them down.  Stop posting.  Make it impossible for people to post to your...

Re-establishing Parenting Time

In August, I wrote about the Parent that Used to Be Absent.  This is a follow up article to that post about re-establishing parenting time and what to realistically expect when trying to do so. Often I speak with a parent that hasn’t seen their child in a long period...

Post Divorce Parenting: Helping Your Child Succeed

Life for a child of divorce can feel like a war zone. They often feel torn between two people who have completely different opinions and different life styles. The rules can vary from household to household which leaves the child with a sense of confusion and anger....

Visitation Part 2: Pick up, Drop off and Last Minute Schedule Changes

It’s very rare that parties to a divorce, or parents who are no longer in a relationship, get along very well. After all, if you did, you’d likely still be together, right? It is more typically the case that parents do NOT get along. As a result, dealing with...

Absent Parents: The Parent Who Used to be Absent

Absent parents is a topic that I see frequently in my practice. Here’s a perfect example: Mom was pregnant but dad wanted nothing to do with her, or the baby, during pregnancy and for a while thereafter. At some point, for whatever reason, the dad becomes interested...

Kid’s Corner: The “Do’s”

This is part two of my advice for dealing with your children in divorce. I’ve already made my disclaimer that I’m not a therapist by any means. I do have children of my own. I do help my clients deal with their children’s issues in the course of my representation...

Kid’s Corner: The “Don’ts”

I’m not a therapist by any means, but I do have children of my own and I do help my clients deal with their children’s issues in the course of my representation during divorce or other family law cases. There are two important lists for kids. First is the “do’s” and...

Massachusetts Divorce: “What’s this going to cost me?”

   Whether you’re the husband or the wife, the bread winner or the stay-at-home parent, cost is typically a factor in consideration of a divorce. At some point during every consultation, a person turns to me and says “So, what’s this going to cost me?” My response is...

How do keep my divorce moving forward?

     This is a common question in my field and it’s one of the most difficult to answer, unfortunately. Divorces can take many paths. The outcome of each case is truly dependant on the parties. So, how can you keep your divorce moving forward...

New Hampshire: The First Appearance

    You’ve filed for divorce and you’ve received a notice that you must attend something called a First Appearance. So, what is this?     If you are a party to a divorce action, and you have children of the marriage that are...

New Hampshire Law: Alimony

       Alimony is always hot topic in matters of divorce. Not everyone understands on what basis it is determined and if awarded, how the amount and length of the award is determined.        In New Hampshire, the mystery...

Should my Ex’s New Girlfriend/Boyfriend visit with my child?

You’ve separated from your partner and he now has a new girlfriend. He sees nothing wrong with that girlfriend being present during visitation with your kids. You think that she should not be there. You are not alone. This is a very common issue in the world of...

Can I sign over or terminate my parental rights?

Often I have people call me to discuss “signing over their parental rights” in hopes that this will either 1) end the drama that happens when they visit with their child or 2) end their obligation to pay child support. This is a difficult question to answer in a...

Can I have an attorney for mediation?

    Often I have people consult my office that either want to or have agreed to attend mediation (through a court process or otherwise). They tell me that they can “work it all out” or that they “don’t want to argue.” Often people tell me that they...

Appeals

An appeal is a request for relief from a decision of a lower court.  It’s basically asking the Court to overturn a lower court’s ruling, order or finding based upon the fact that the lower court’s decision was in error.  Christine is an experienced lawyer; both at trial and appeals.  She can help if you’ve been convicted at trial.  You have the right to appeal — contact us today for a free consultation of your case.

Criminal Law

When you are in a difficult situation that requires the assistance of a knowledgeable, caring representative, turn to the Law Offices of Christine G. DeBernardis. Christine has the experience to help you get the best results.  The outcome of a criminal matter will affect your future. Make sure that your interest is protected and that you have an experienced advocate on your side. You can contact Christine G. DeBernardis in her Massachusetts office at (978-225-0661).

Divorce

Divorce and separation are tough on a family.  Everyone want to provide advice and it's hard to know who to trust.  You need an advocate that is fair, experienced and compassionate.  Christine has nearly 20 years experience working with families both in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Contact us here to schedule a free phone consultation.

Testimonials

Perfect Advocate

Ms. DeBernardis has been nothing short of the perfect advocate for me.  I can honestly say without hesitation that had I knew of her from the begging [sic] of my divorce, I would have had a much much smoother go of it and would...

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Always Thinking

Christine handled my divorce and was always thinking about my best interests. She did not let me make mistakes. She never let me give up something for nothing. She asked me what I wanted and fought for it. She was always...

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Eager to Help

Despite the circumstances leading to my hiring Christine, working with her on my case turned out to be a pleasure. She is very communicative, understanding, and made my divorce process as quick and smooth as possible.  I...

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Hire Her Again Without a Doubt!

I highly recommend Christine DeBernardis. Christine has been my attorney on and off for the past three years. I have had very difficult situations with my ex-husband and ongoing custody disputes. She is honest, fair, and upfront...

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After Two Other Lawyers

I have hired two lawyers prior to retaining Ms. DeBernardis and could not be happier with my time with her.  She was very accessible and prompt with her communications, timely with her meetings, and grasped my issues and offered...

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Am I the right attorney for you? Schedule a phone free consultation today to discuss your case and decide if I am the person you want on your side.  Contact me now at: 978.225.0661 or 603.373.0545.  You may also  email me in confidence.

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