Family law cases can be emotionally taxing and difficult for all parties. Boston family law lawyer George N. Papachristos believes in trying to build a positive relationship with the other side in an effort to reach a mutually agreeable outcome when possible. This approach is particularly appropriate in family law cases, where the parties often have to work together for years in caring for the children, and courts often focus on the best interests of the child, when rendering their decision. However, working with the other side is not always possible, and we are comfortable aggressively representing our clients’ interests when necessary, in, and out of the courtroom.Massachusetts Divorce
According the National Center for Health Statistics, Massachusetts has a relatively low divorce rate compared to other states. Nevertheless, divorce is not uncommon in Massachusetts. If you are facing a divorce, you need the representation of a compassionate and knowledgeable family law attorney.
Ideally, the parties to a divorce are willing to work together to reach an agreeable outcome. In cases where both parties are willing to cooperate and remain amicable, the divorce may be concluded by way of agreement, with little involvement by the Court. The Court often encourages the settlement of family law disagreements by way of Mediation or Arbitration, and in fact mandates that an attorney speak to their clients about those options before filing for divorce. It is important for a client to be fully apprised of the benefits and disadvantages of presenting their case to a Mediator or Arbitrator when looking to apply alternative methods of resolution. One of the main differences between the two is that Arbitration, unlike Mediation, is binding upon the parties when an Arbitrator reaches a formal decision.
In many cases, however, the parties are unable to remain friendly or reach an agreement. Issues related to the division of assets, support, and child custody can all lead to disagreement. When court intervention is required, the court has a great deal of discretion in many areas of family law. In the division of property, the court is to consider a variety of factors, including the length of the marriage, the parties’ conduct during the marriage, their age, health, occupation, and income. The court is also to consider the needs of any children. It may also consider the parties’ contributions to their estates and to family homemaking. M.G.L. c. 208 s. 34.
The financial issues presented in family law cases can be daunting and very complex. One of the most important factors a client faces is the financial consequence inherent within agreements that pertain to alimony and child support. It is just as important, if not more, for an attorney to be able to valuate assets, income, and other equity possessed by the parties involved, including the ability to uncover or find such assets, income, and equity in cases where they are not ostensibly present. Being able to use and understand the rules of evidence, legal procedures, and Courtroom presentation to relay that information in a cogent and articulate fashion is critical.
There have been many changes in the area of family law within the last few years, including the new Child Support Guidelines and the Alimony Reform act, which further attempt to delineate what factors the Court considers in reaching its decision. That is why having an attorney who is proactive in keeping up with recent legal developments and their impact on the outcome of pending cases, is a necessity. Attorney Papachristos has devoted his time and efforts not only in keeping up with recent developments by attending legal seminars, but also contributing his analysis in the application of law by way of his blog posts.
If you are facing a divorce, you need the representation of a family law attorney who can work with the other side where appropriate, but protect your rights.Custody
The determination of custody can often be the most important part of a divorce case. Under Massachusetts law, the parents are considered to have equal rights absent misconduct, but it is the happiness and welfare of the children that determines custody. M.G.L. c. 208 s. 31. In regards to custody, the Court has to take into account many factors when trying to determine what the best interests of the child are. The Court has to look at the nature of any allegations made against the parent, the child’s age, the parent’s financial and occupational background, the parent’s ties to the community and the child, as well as the severity and nature of abuse, if such is alleged. The Court, or the parties, may seek to appoint a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) in order to investigate the nature of certain claims, and/or represent the minor child when issues of legal consent are presented. When a GAL is appointed, it is important for an attorney to have a working knowledge of the ethical, legal, and evidentiary limits this appointment encompasses, and to be able to fully inform and assist their client through such process.Child Support
In determining child support, Massachusetts courts apply guidelines promulgated by the Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Court. There is a rebuttable presumption that the amount that would result from application of the guidelines is the appropriate amount to be ordered. The court must consider the best interests of the child when determining if the presumption has been rebutted. M.G.L. c. 208 s. 28.
Knowing how and when to present evidence to the Court as to when deviations from the guidelines are proper, is incumbent upon the attorney, when their client’s interests require that such considerations be made. Attorney Papachristos realizes that no one situation is similar to another and there are times when his client’s interests may present contrary to proposed guidelines. As such, he is willing, ready, and able to present evidence in a comprehensive manner to support his legal arguments.Spousal Abuse
Sadly, spousal abuse and spousal abuse allegations sometimes play a role in divorce and custody cases. Massachusetts law provides for two types orders to protect victims of abuse and harassment—restraining orders and harassment prevention orders. Restraining orders are designed to prevent abuse from family and household members. Restraining orders can only be obtained against: spouses or former spouses, household members, relatives by blood or marriage, the other parent of a child in common or, a current or former partner in a “substantive dating or engagement relationship.” M.G.L. c. 209A s. 1. Harassment prevention orders do not have the same type of relationship requirements. M.G.L. c. 258E s. 3.
As a former prosecutor, Mr. Papachristos has the skills and experience to assist you with, or against the imposition of, protective orders and harassment prevention orders.Compassionate Representation
Our firm provides excellent legal representation to family law clients in the areas North of Boston, Boston, and South of Boston, including areas within Norfolk, Essex, Middlesex and Plymouth Counties. Boston family law attorney George N. Papachristos is skilled at working with the other side, and at aggressively protecting his clients’ interests. If you need help with a family law matter, call us at (617) 328-7100 or contact us online today.Useful Links