Family law matters can be very stressful and challenging. Whether you are facing a divorce or are fighting a custody battle or other family related issue, you can be certain that Breneville Law offices will be at your side and will provide you a vigorous, confidential and hors-pair representation.
We handle all types of divorce, including contested and uncontested divorce, divorce mediation, and providing second opinions.
Divorce is the legal process by which a married couple splits up and become two individuals instead of a single unit. Through a divorce, the couple’s property and debts can be divided between them. In addition, their obligations and rights with regard to their children and toward each other can be defined. After the divorce becomes final, the parties can marry other people. Sometimes, if an annulment is granted, the parties will be considered to have never been married to each other.
An annulment is a legal procedure which cancels a marriage between a man and a woman, as if the marriage never technically existed and was never valid. An annulment case can be initiated by either the husband or the wife in the marriage.
To receive an annulment in Massachusetts, the marriage must be either void or voidable. A void marriage is one that could not have existed in the first place, because it was against the law from its inception. Massachusetts has three void marriage grounds: consanguinity, which means that you’re closely related by blood to your spouse, such as brother and sister or first cousins; affinity, which means that you’re related by marriage to your spouse; and bigamy which means that either you or your spouse was already married when you entered into this marriage.
Voidable marriages however don’t break the law, so you could conceivably remain married if you wanted to do so. Grounds for a voidable marriage allege that you would not have married your partner if you had been aware of certain facts. The four voidable marriage grounds include fraud, duress, impotency or mental incapacity.
We can help determine whether filing for annulment or simply filing for divorce is the best option for you.
Annulment (in the Catholic Church)
After a Catholic wedding ended in a divorce the couple can no longer marry in the Church unless a Tribunal, (a Catholic Church court) declares the marriage was annulled. The decision which annuls a Catholic marriage is called an Ecclesiastical Declaration of Nullity. It is a statement by the Catholic Church that a particular union, presumably begun in good faith and thought by all to be a marriage, was in fact an invalid union as the Church defines marriage. Although some grounds to annul a Catholic marriage are similar to those to annul a civil marriage, the procedures however are very different.
The person who is asking for the declaration of nullity – the petitioner – submits a written testimony about the marriage and a list of persons who are familiar with the marriage. The Tribunal then involves in an investigation of facts and a possible rendering of a decision concerning the nullity of a particular marriage. The purpose of the annulment in the Catholic Church is not only to allow the parties to remarry in the Church but also “to serve one’s conscience and spirit and to reconcile persons to full sacramental participation in the community of the Church.” (excepts from the brochure “An Ecclesiastical declaration of Nullity” by The Metropolitan Tribunal, Archdiocese of Boston, Rev: 10/91).
The process leading to a Declaration of Nullity by the Tribunal can be complicated and confused for most people because the procedures are different from those of a traditional court. At Breneville Law Offices, we have experience with the Tribunal and can accompany you during this challenging and liberating process by providing compassionate, caring and skillful advice. We can help you write your annulment statement which is probably the most critical submission to the Tribunal because it makes your case in detail for your annulment.
Sometimes, some spouses, because of religious, cultural or social reasons or for tax purposes or for purposes of maintaining medical coverage on a spouse's health insurance, plan not to seek a divorce. They want to decide however, how they are going to live apart from each other while defining the terms and the amount of support to be paid and with whom the children will live.
Although Massachusetts courts do not issue judgments for legal separation, if the spouses however, choose to separate without getting a divorce, a "judgment for separate support" is available for a spouse seeking spousal support and child support.
We can help you find out whether seeking a “judgment for separate support” is the best option for you and to find out exactly what you may be entitled to after the separation, including alimony, custody and child support.
Alimony is defined as the payment of support from a spouse, who has the ability to pay to a spouse in need of support for a reasonable length of time, under a court order. In determining whether to impose a short term, a middle term or long term alimony, the court will consider many factors such as: the length of the marriage, the conduct of the parties during the marriage, the age, health or occupation of the parties, vocational skills, employability, liability and needs of the parties, among other things. Usually alimony ends when the person receiving it remarries, or the person paying it dies. It can also ends upon retirement or other predictable events. If either person’s financial situation changes, they can bring a complaint for modification asking that alimony be increased, decreased, or stopped altogether.
We can help you bring an action for alimony during your divorce proceeding or an action to modify alimony, based on your situation.
Custody and Visitation
Custody is the legal responsibility for the care and control of your child. In Massachusetts, parents can share physical and legal custody. One parent can have “sole” physical or “sole” legal custody. When a child lives with one parent, it is called “sole” physical custody; when a child lives part of the time with one parent and part of the time with the other parent, it is called “joint” or “share” physical custody.
While physical custody refers to the time that a child is residing with or is under the care and supervision of a parent, legal custody refers to who makes important decisions in the child’s life, such as decisions about the child’s education, medical treatment and religious upbringing. When one parent makes all the major decisions in the child’s life, it is called “sole” legal custody, when both parents make those major decisions it is called “joint” or “shared” legal custody.
Visitation refers to the arrangements for a child to see the parent with whom he or she does not live. Usually, when one parent has physical custody, the other parent has visitation. In Massachusetts, in order to make decision regarding custody and visitation, the court always takes in consideration “the best interest” of the child. Other persons, such as grandparents or others may have visitation with a child depending on the situation. We can advise you about your best option and help you file for custody or visitation depending on your situation.
Child support refers to the money paid by a parent for the expenses and needs of a child. If you are divorced, separated or a single parent of a child, who lives with you, you are entitled to receive support from your child’s other parent because all parents are responsible for support of their child from the date of the child’s birth.
Whether you want to request child support from the other parent or want to consider your options against a complaint for child support, we can help you.
Before child support can be imposed, the court must have evidence that paternity of the child has been established. Paternity is the process of having a man legally declared the father of a child. In situation where the parties are not married to each other, paternity is a serious matter and creates legal rights and responsibilities that have long-lasting consequences for each parent and the child. Those matters include child support, health insurance, uninsured medical expenses, custody, visitation, inheritance, among other things. If you have questions and need advice about paternity, we can help you.
Guardianship and Conservatorship
If the parents of a child are absent, died, unable, unavailable or found to be unfit, you need to file for guardianship of the child in order to care for, or make decisions on behalf of that child. You need also to file for guardianship to care for, or make decisions for an incapacitated adult. However, if you want to have the authority to make decisions regarding the protected person’s finances, you need to file for conservatorship.
We can advise you about any guardianship and conservatorship issues.
Domestic violence is the use of power by a partner in a relationship in order to control another person. That power to control may be physical, psychological, sexual or economic. In some circumstances, it can include power over another person’s immigration status. There are a variety of laws to prosecute abusers and protect victims and children from domestic violence.
We represent all types of people in domestic violence cases. Whether you have been suffered from abuses and threats or accused of domestic violence or wanted to seek protection or fight a restraining order, we will provide you a zealous representation.
Children and Family Law
Are your children being removed from your care by the Department of Children and Families (DCF)? Are you dealing with allegations of abuse and neglect of your children? At Breneville Law Offices we can help. We will provide you with zealous and vigorous representation whether during negotiation with DCF, Temporary Custody (including 72-hour) hearing and Permanency Hearing.