What to Expect When You’re Divorcing: The Complaint

Complaints for Divorce/Modifications, Motions, Pre-trial Conferences and Trials are words that may all sound the same to any non-attorney going through a divorce, modification or contempt action with a spouse.

In a series over the next few weeks we will explain the following terms:

  • What are Complaints for Divorce, Modification and Contempt?
  • What is a Motion and what can I expect?
  • What is Discovery and what can I expect?
  • What is a Pre-Trial Conference and what can I expect?
  • What is the timeline for these cases?
  • How are divorce, modification and contempt cases settled?
  • What is a Judgment?


The filing of a Complaint with a Court evidences the opening of a new case.  In the Probate and Family Court the Complaint is a form document.  Once the complaint for divorce, complaint for modification or complaint for contempt is served on the other spouse or ex-spouse your case is on the court’s tracking timeline.

A Complaint for Divorce comes in two forms:  a section 1A Complaint is a complaint jointly filed by both spouses along with the Separation Agreement which indicates that you have reached agreement prior to the filing of the Complaint.   A section 1B divorce is a Complaint which is not jointly filed, that is, it is filed by one spouse against the other.   The first activity before the Judge is usually a Motion for Temporary Orders which establishes what we call the “new world order”.   This motion is followed by discovery, a pre-trial conference and ultimately resolution by a judgment reached by either settlement or a trial before the Judge.

A Complaint for Modification is filed after the divorce is over when one spouse wants to change the current divorce judgment.    To succeed in a modification case a person must prove that there has been a substantial and material change of circumstances since the divorce judgment was entered.   For example, one could seek a modification for custody, child support, medical insurance or alimony if circumstances have materially changed.     Modification cases can be as complicated as a divorce case and is sometimes as long and expensive.

A Complaint for Contempt is filed during or after the divorce when one person fails to do what they are obligated to do by the Court.  The obligation can arise by something the Court ordered them to do or which they agreed to do voluntarily, but failed to do.    Unlike the other Complaints, one for Contempt results in a hearing date assigned by the Court, not selected by either side.     If someone proves that the other side is in contempt the judge can award attorneys’ fees to that person, although the amount of attorneys’ fees awarded may not be the amount actually paid or owed the attorney.


Grossman & Associates, Ltd.

Why Separate and Apart Could Lead to Together Forever

Actor James Brolin recently discussed the secret to his 20 year (and still going strong) marriage to Barbra Streisand, “separate bank accounts” .

According to the dismal statistical world, approximately 50% of first marriages, 67% of second marriages and 73% of third marriages end in divorce. Mr. Brolin may be on to something in describing the key to the success of his third marriage.  Financial obligations from previous relationships including: alimony; child support; college tuition and expenses for children from another relationship top the list of contributing factors in the breakdown of 2nd and 3rd marriages.

Prenuptial Agreements are becoming more and more popular especially among people entering into a 2nd or 3rd marriage.  The idea that the signing of a prenuptial agreement kills the trust in a relationship is becoming less common and in fact provides each partner in the relationship with the confidence and security of knowing that the life they will be sharing is not based on the financial means of either party.

Discussing financial expectations and obligations with your partner prior to marriage may not be the romantic foreplay to a romantic date night that you had in mind, but consider it foreplay to a successful marriage.

Grossman & Associates, Ltd.

Choosing Your Divorce Lawyer May Be As Important As Choosing Your Spouse….

You thought choosing who you would spend the rest of your life with would be the most important decision of your life?  Choosing who will help you will help you divorce the person you thought you would spending the rest of your life may just be an even bigger decision.  Changing divorce lawyers is unsettling, disruptive and expensive.

The worst advice you could take from a friend or a relative is that it doesn’t matter who your lawyer is, “it won’t make a difference you will get what you get.”  Even before filing for divorce, choosing the right Attorney to represent you is crucial to your case.

In order to really judge who the right lawyer is for you, you need to find and interview 3 or 4 lawyers who specialize in family law.  An Attorney that has been practicing for 20 years won’t mean much to you if during their career they have only dipped their toes into the Probate and Family Court once every couple of years.

Once you have identified the 3 or 4 Attorneys you are going to meet make sure you come equipped with questions to ask each of them.  A basic but efficient list includes the following:

  • How long have you practiced family law?
  • How do you approach a new case?
  • What is your approach to settling a case?
  • How quickly do you follow up with me if I call or email you?
  • What retainer do you require up front?Although the retainer should be within your price range, keep in mind that cheaper is not always better.
  • Who in your firm will work on my case and how much will I pay for their time? Ask to be introduced to others who will work on your case.
  • How often will I receive an accounting of my retainer?The answer should be at least once a month.

Make notes immediately following each meeting when your memory and feelings are still fresh.  Important to note are the following:

  • Did you feel comfortable opening up to this attorney?
  • Did you feel intimidated by them?
  • Were they a good listener, or did they spend the entire time singing their own praises?
  • Did you feel as though this attorney would take a practical approach to your case?A practical but more expensive attorney is better than a cheaper attorney with no clear game plan.
  • Were they afraid to tell you something you did not want to hear? 

If in the end you still have any confusion about the process, call us, we will help you!

Grossman & Associates, Ltd.


Resource: A Safe Place Nantucket

Did you know Grossman & Associates, Ltd. also has a office on Nantucket?  The beautiful island of Nantucket is equipped with many resources that help you through any divorce and/or family law matter.

 Letter from A Safe Place, Inc.

A Safe Place, Inc. is an organization located on Nantucket that provides free and confidential services for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.  The program has recently expanded to include specialized services for children who’s lives have been impacted by violence in the home.

A Safe Place, Inc.  is now offering Supervised Visitation and Exchange Services in an effort to make exchanges accessible for everyone.

If you or someone you know is in need of this type of assistance, please contact Grossman & Associates, Ltd. at 617-969-0069.  If you are in immediate danger, call 911 for the police.

Grossman & Associates, Ltd.

College will cost me HOW MUCH?


According to the September 21, 2015 article in the Wall Street Journal, there are eight crucial questions parents and their children should ask themselves when college and college expenses are on the horizon.  Today, the cost of college is not limited to room and board; students are required to pay hundreds of dollars per semester on textbooks, activities fees, and transportation.  Some schools require students to complete an internship, often full-time and unpaid.

Parents, whether married or divorced, should take the time to plan and prepare for the increasing financial burden of college.   “Too often, parents feel guilty if their finances limit their child’s ability to go to their dream school, which is why they’re willing to ‘beg, borrow and steal; or go into massive debt to help the child get there,” says Beth Kobliner, a personal-finance author.

As a parent, do you want to work twelve to fifteen more years to make up for the financial burden of college? Can you count on your spouse or ex-spouse to help contribute?  Will your child’s career path keep them from paying off their student loans 15, 20, 25 years down the road?  Financial situations vary, but the increasing price of college is constant.  Can you afford your child’s dream school?  Reconsider the impact that educational costs may have on all of you.

Grossman & Associates, Ltd.


One of the most under-recognized casualties of divorce is friendships.  An invisible line is drawn in the sand among friends when rumblings of marriage trouble begin.  Married friends begin discussing your marriage with each other, taking notes and comparing their marriage to yours- what they would have done differently, why that will never be them and the big one, where fault is placed.

Whether your friends side with you or your spouse is often determined by whether your friends knew you or your spouse first, and that person is the one who wins the continued friendship.

The demise of a marriage is almost never just the end of your marriage, but often the end of at least a few surrounding friendships you once counted on.  But the end is always the mark of a beginning – and all good things have a beginning.

Grossman & Associates, Ltd.

And the Winner Is…

Sex, religion, money, family – the list goes on and on and depending on how many opinions you are inviting, the list will continue to grow.  The more google searches you do, the more websites you will encounter with yet more advice on what destroyed your marriage.

After over a decade of working with both men and women going through the divorce process, I have heard hundreds of detailed accounts of how and why each person’s marriage ended AND THE WINNER IS…..there isn’t one.

As frustrating and anti-climactic as that news may be – any other answer would be as accurate as your daily horoscope.  Of course there are similarities among all of the stories I hear where there is heartache, deception, manipulation and love lost but often one will fixate on one event or problem as being the lone perpetrator in the death of their marriage.  More often than not this one event is the red herring of a combination of so many issues that were really destroying one’s relationship as demonstrated in “His Penis Extension Broke – and 9 More Crazy Reasons People Divorced” .

The good news is that most marriages are not so fragile and one specific issue will not end decades of a marriage partnership between two people.  Issues and areas of disagreement exist in all marriages whether they are successful or not, but become red herrings when one or both spouses no longer likes being in the partnership.  It most likely didn’t happen overnight, and it is usually not caused by one particular event or bad decision.  Just as falling in love and creating a marriage partnership is a process, so too is it’s destruction.

Grossman & Associates, Ltd.

The Wives Club

Recognizing that many of our clients are linked by the common thread of their husband’s infidelity, we responded with an idea to help our clients on a broader level.  Energized by the idea, Hindell immediately called three women clients, each recovering from their husband’s infidelity, to ask if they would be interested in meeting each other.   The suggestion was met with exceptional enthusiasm.

Fast forward to a muggy, rainy Tuesday evening, when the three women clients met at Hindell’s home and shared an evening of wine and support.  Conversation was lively and uninterrupted, as if they had known each other for years.   They talked of inspiring songs and poems, fantasy revenge, and private pain. The conversation reflected viewpoints of their marriages…

“I knew something was different in my marriage. 

The vacant look on my husband’s face- he was not present. 

He felt I didn’t take care of him.

He was never really part of the family.

He was my rock.”

They left feeling rejuvenated, excited and hopeful.  In one night these clients realized that the “club” they didn’t want to be a part of had turned into opportunities for friendships, activities and adventures.  Within weeks after the initial meeting the clients met on their own and have plans for another weekend gathering.    “While I wish we weren’t in the same boat,” said one of the clients, “I am delighted to have such smart, beautiful row-partners.”

Psychology Today’s recent article, This is Why Betrayal Hurts So Much, explains that betrayal involves “giving your trust to a person who turned out not to be worth of it…and that people conspired against you without letting you participate in the decision”.  The problem that each of these client’s faced was not just the personal betrayal, but also that they lacked the outlet to speak about the feelings associated with betrayal.  How do you talk to a friend, a family member or a colleague who has not felt the betrayal on the same level as you have?  Friends and family are supportive of you, but can they truly relate to how the betrayal made you feel?

As the article advises, “We can’t change the situations that provoke our negative emotions, but by redefining the way we view them, we can eventually find fulfillment in changing our emotional responses.”  By meeting, commiserating, consoling, and celebrating, these clients were offered a path to a new life- the light at the end of the tunnel- and feel hope again.

Grossman & Associates, LTD. 617-969-0069