We offer a wide-variety of services which include collaborative divorce filings, mediation and transactional work to our Western Mass. clients. Below is just a sampling. Call for more information: (508) 753-6778
UNCONTESTED DIVORCE WITH MEDIATION
We will provide up to two consultations with up to four hours of mediation to fine-tune the details of your agreement; expertly prepare your agreement and all required documents, file your divorce petition with the court and guide you through the court process to ensure that your agreement is approved and your divorce is granted. Additional mediation sessions and court attendance available on an hourly basis (with 2-hour minimum). Note: Flat fee does not include deeds, qualified domestic relations orders or appraisals.
CONTESTED DIVORCE MEDIATION
We can help you resolve all of your divorce-related disputes including custody and parenting plans, property division and support. With nearly three decades of litigation experience, Attorney Liftman knows how judges typically decide cases and can help guide you to an agreement while saving you thousands of dollars. We will prepare your divorce agreement and help you convert your contested divorce to an uncontested one.
CUSTODY CASES (PARENTS NOT MARRIED)
Custody cases for parents who were not married to one another and who break up can be just as confusing and involve many of the same issues as divorce. We will help you reach a comprehensive agreement on custody and parenting issues, preserving the rights of both parents and the children. We will prepare a comprehensive parenting plan and all documents needed to have it adopted as a legally-binding order of the court.
As long as your judgment of divorce or custody permits modification, you can ask the court to change any provision of its earlier order (with the exception of property/debt division) if there has been a substantial and material change in circumstances.
CHILD SUPPORT REVIEW
Massachusetts has new Child Support Guidelines which took effect on September 15, 2017 which may change the calculation of child support, especially if one or more of your children is over age 18. Salaries go up or down; costs of health insurance and childcare change. These factors and more may mean that it’s time to revisit and possibly revise the amount of child support. We can help you reach an agreement on the new amount and file a Joint Petition (also known as a 1A divorce) or Modification of Child Support instead of a contested modification, saving you both time and money.
An annulment is a tool used to void a marriage from the start, as opposed to a divorce which simply ends the marriage. It is only granted in rare circumstances where the stringent requirements of the law are met. It is not to be confused with a religious annulment.
In Massachusetts, you can use any name you choose so long as you don’t change your name for illegal or fraudulent purposes. If you want to change your name, or your child’s name, officially so that you can obtain a new driver’s license, passport and social security card, the change must be allowed by a judge. Unless it’s done in connection with an adoption, marriage, or divorce, you will need to petition the court to allow you to officially change your name after notice to interested persons and a hearing. I can aid you in this process.
Perhaps you are entering into a second marriage and one or both of you have money or real estate or a business you would like to be sure to keep in the event of divorce. Perhaps one or both of you come from a wealthy family and your parents or grandparents have put assets in your name, or you stand to inherit from them. With a Prenuptial or Premarital Agreement, you can protect these assets in the event the marriage is not successful. It doesn’t prevent you from gifting assets to your spouse or purchasing joint assets, and if the marriage is as successful as we all hope it will be, you can rewrite or simply tear up the agreement at a later date.
Technology has evolved faster than the law in some cases and surrogacy arrangements can have unintended consequences if the surrogate changes her mind, the sperm donor wants parental rights, or the couple breaks up before the baby is born. A well-drafted agreement can spell out everyone’s rights and responsibilities toward the new life you are creating which will be enforceable in court in the event that everything doesn’t go as planned.
Step-parent adoptions, American adoptions for children born overseas, and private adoptions all need proper legal documents to be valid. We will prepare all necessary documents and agreements, help you obtain all necessary consents, and have the adoption approved by the court.
ESTATE PLANNING FOR INDIVIDUALS, COUPLES, FAMILIES
Whether you need to update your will, create a trust for minor children or nominate a guardian, we can help you plan so that you will have peace of mind knowing that your affairs are in order and your family will be provided for when you pass away. Having a proper estate plan can avoid countless unintended consequences like having your entire estate go to your ex as the surviving parent of your children instead of having it go into a trust to be held and used as you would have wished for your children’s benefit.
HEALTH CARE PROXY
What would happen if you were suddenly unable due to an accident or illness to make your own healthcare decisions? Without this simple form, a family member or healthcare facility would have to petition the court to be appointed your legal guardian. What if family members can’t agree on the appropriate care for you or those critical end-of-life decisions? By planning in advance you and you alone select the person you want making those decisions on your behalf and can be sure that your “proxy” knows your wishes now. This one simple document can save thousands of dollars in legal fees and unnecessary fighting between relatives who may all have different ideas about “what you would have wanted.”
POWER OF ATTORNEY
This simple document designates a trusted friend or loved one to make financial decisions in the event that you are incapacitated due to illness or accident. By having this simple document in place, you can avoid expensive litigation to have the court appoint a conservator to make financial decisions in the event you are no longer competent to do so. You, and not the court, decide who that trusted person should be and precisely what powers that person should have such as the power to pay your bills, file your taxes, pay for healthcare, make gifts or even sell your home to pay for continued care.
GUARDIANSHIP & CONSERVATORSHIP
These are court proceedings to appoint someone to make healthcare and financial decisions for a disabled or incapacitated adult. Guardianship may also be needed for a child who has lost one or both parents or whose parents are unable to provide suitable care.
DECLARATION OF HOMESTEAD
This simple document, signed by you and recorded with the Registry of Deeds, will protect some or all of the equity in your home from your creditors and your spouse’s creditors. By having this document in place, your home cannot be seized to pay a judgment creditor and it cannot be taken in bankruptcy to pay your debts. Without it, you can never be sure that your most valuable asset is protected from the “what ifs” that may be coming down the road like high medical costs or debt incurred because of a lost job, an unpaid loan or a lawsuit.