Subscribe

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 in building a relationship with the child and seeks visitation. Mom wants to use the fact that dad wasn’t involved as a reason to prevent, or delay, future visitation and/or to make it supervised visitation.

The fact is that lack of a previous relationship, or an interest in one, between parent and child is not a reason to prevent visitation in the present or future. There are many reasons why a parent may be an absent parent in a child’s life, both good and bad. Absent a particular safely issue between the parent and that child (read below), the Court is not going to prevent a relationship at present or in the future.

When I say “absent a particular safely issue between the parent and that child” what I mean to say that the parent and the child have had an issue between themselves in the past. I do not mean that the dad has had issues with the mom. I do not mean that the dad was arrested in the past for something not involving the child (though in some cases, this may be relevant. Of course, seek counsel for your particular issue). I do not mean that the dad’s girlfriend and the mom do not get along. I do not mean that the dad “doesn’t know how to take care of a child (see my blog later in the week for more on this!).” I mean that if the dad and the child have had issues of safety, abuse, trauma between them in the past, the Court may prevent visitation after dad’s absence in the child’s life (for some period or even simply make it supervised. Again, seek counsel for your particular situation).

I know that it is hard to imagine that after a period of time, however long or short that may be, your child is expected to pick up a relationship with his other parent. However, that parent – and your child- have a right to know each other. Try to be supportive and positive for your child, even if you are nervous or unsure. It will help him/her get through that initial unfamiliar stage and make the visits run smoothly. If you are outwardly resistant in front of your kids, it only creates more stress and makes them worry about the effect of the visits on you too.

One thing that you might have noted in this blog is that I took the time to tell you to “seek counsel for your particular situation” several times. Please do that! Every situation is different and you should never use a general rule of practice to decide how to proceed in your case. Contact me and we will sit down to figure out what is important for your case and how to proceed in the best interest of your child. We are a phone call away if you need information or an assessment of your situation.

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 -...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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....

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...

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...

Domestic Abuse During a Pandemic

The year 2020 is now behind us but in many ways, we are still living through a full scale pandemic.  COVID-19 hit this world  and affected us in a large number of ways we did not expect.  For many, being forced to stay in their homes, brought on anxiety, depression...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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 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...

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...

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...

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...

Filing a Protective Order

Filing a protective order (209A) can be a scary time.  Maybe you aren't sure where you will go.  Maybe you have children to consider.  Perhaps your family is not as supportive or available as you need.  There are places and ways to get help so that you are not alone. ...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

Pin It on Pinterest

Read previous post:
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...

Close