We’re Lawyers of the Day, and Much More!

We believe in volunteering.

The Probate and Family Courts in Middlesex and Norfolk Counties (which are located in Cambridge and Canton) have developed a Lawyer of the Day Program in partnership with the Administrative Offices of the Court and various Bar Associations.   Attorneys like us are asked to volunteer our time to provide justice to pro se litigants (i.e., those representing themselves).

As part of our firm philosophy, Suzana and I served as Lawyers of the Day in 2016 and annually before this, each providing a full day of legal services to those who appear at the courthouse and are in need assistance.    It was a grueling day full of sad circumstances.  My experience included two sisters in their early twenties who needed help becoming guardians for their 13 year old brother and disabled sister.  Their father recently died and their mother had disappeared.  The disabled sister was in a facility which wanted to transfer her but her Mother was unavailable to authorize the move.   The brother was being raised by his older sisters and the school needed to know who was legally in charge.    Other cases were similarly heart-wrenching.

Volunteering in the court made it clear how hard our court personnel work to help the public, and the toll it takes dealing with the circumstances of the less fortunate.

While Suzana and I volunteer our legal skills, and I volunteer as a Board member at two non-profit organizations,  Patryce volunteers and serves as an Ambassador for the Newton/Needham Chamber of Commerce and at her church where she serves on the scholarship committee.   She is in charge of welcoming new members to the Chamber and promoting community development.   There is no question that Patryce makes them feel welcome.

 

 

When to Say When

 

The decision “when to say when” with regards to ending your marriage is not a decision that is made after one day of thought, but rather over weeks, months and sometimes years.  Moving forward with a divorce is a life altering decision.  Because divorce affects almost every facet of your life it is not uncommon that we share our thoughts and feelings with friends, family members or even our attorneys prior to moving forward.  No one other than you can make that final decision, but there are 3 questions you should certainly ask yourself before starting a  divorce:

  • No regrets – One of the main reasons why making major life changing decisions is so difficult is that we are afraid that we will regret the decision in hindsight. However, if you exhaust every option to make your marriage work, i.e., effective communication with your partner, marriage counseling, etc. prior to making your decision, it will help relieve you of future feelings of regret.

 

  • Choosing yourself over your partner – It is not uncommon that while one person is incredibly unhappy in their marriage, their partner is happy, or at least sufficiently tolerant, with the state of their relationship. Disregarding your genuine feelings of marital unhappiness and dissatisfaction to avoid the guilt you may feel in disappointing your partner can lead you to depression, resentment and other physical symptoms.  To stay true to your heart and to yourself some action might be needed prior to choosing divorce.  Taking action is empowering.

 

  • What is best for your children – Staying together for the sake of the children is an outdated idea and a bad one. The fact that both of you are not sleeping in the same room, or under the same roof, is not reason enough to stay in an unhappy marriage.   What is best for your children is to ensure that they grow up with parents who are stable, focused, and able to provide guidance and love to their children.

Contact Grossman & Associates, Ltd. for guidance if you are thinking about a divorce at 617.969.0069.

 

 

 

Why Divorce is Sometimes the Band-Aid that Needs to be Ripped Off

Divorce can be heartbreaking, traumatic and painful for both spouses regardless of who initiated the break-up.  The length of time that it takes for a person to move on and heal from their divorce varies case by case and person to person.

People often believe the overwhelming feelings of sadness and unhappiness that they experience while going through the divorce process are the result of mourning the loss of their spouse and the life they had once shared together.  It is not uncommon that we recreate and distort our memories, subconsciously filtering our recollection of events through rose-colored glasses while completely dismissing the negative memories.

Although no two divorces are the same, the breakdown of any marriage is rarely, if ever caused by one single event, followed by an immediate filing for divorce from one or both spouses.  The path that leads people to divorce is usually a long, sad and lonely one and as creatures of habit we gradually adapt to accepting whatever life we find ourselves in instead of looking for a happier and more satisfying life.  Unfortunately, sometimes the path to living a satisfying and happy life can only happen by confronting the sharp pain of ending a chapter in your life in preparation for a new beginning.  Just like ripping off a band-aid, it hurts in the beginning – a lot– and then one day it doesn’t.  You soon find that you are able to look forward and not back, replacing the sad and lonely days that you thought you missed, with happy and fulfilling ones.

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.
617-969-0069

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.
617-969-0069

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.
617-969-0069

College will cost me HOW MUCH?

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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.
617-969-0069

DIVORCING CAN MEAN LOSING CUSTODY OF YOUR FRIENDS

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.
617-969-0069

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.
617-969-0069

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