Collaborative Law allows you to work efficiently with the support of a team of professionals to settle your divorce or other family law issues confidentially without the threat of litigation, to create an ongoing working relationship with your spouse, and avoid the destruction of your family. Collaborative law gives you individual representation and advocacy along with the support of a neutral mental health professional and, if appropriate, a neutral financial specialist that will enable you to reach resolution efficiently and at a much lower cost than litigation. Collaborative law allows you to avoid the uncertain outcome of court and to achieve a settlement that best meets the specific needs of you, your spouse and your children.
The collaborative process can be used to facilitate a broad range of family issues, including divorce, disputes between parents, contempt, modification, and the negotiation of prenuptial and postnuptial agreements. Collaborative law avoids the adversarial, oppositional process of litigation, instead focusing on a consensual and mutual approach.
Mediation and mediation support
Nussbaum Family Law offers mediation to facilitate direct negotiation of your family law issues at a fraction of the cost of litigation. We provide guided negotiation using our skilled, impartial mediation services. Mediation helps you achieve resolution that will meet your needs and goals, and preserve a respectful working relationship with the other party. We will assist communication, encourage understanding and help focus you on your individual and common interests. Through mediation, we will work with you to explore options, make decisions and reach your own agreement in a neutral, confidential process.
If you choose to mediate your divorce or modification elsewhere, you still need the representation of counsel to ensure that your agreement is complete, accurate, and meets your needs and your children's best interests. Nussbaum Family Law can act as your consulting counsel, enabling you to enter mediation knowing what to expect and understanding the law. We will discuss your concerns and help you prioritize your goals and decisions, answer your questions, make suggestions, be your reality check, and offer feedback between mediation sessions. We will also help you consider your options to make informed decisions. Nussbaum Family Law will review any draft agreement, explain the legal language, and see if any important terms are missing. We will advise you whether your agreement is lawful, enforceable, fair, and whether it satisfies your priorities and concerns.
Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements
A prenuptial agreement or a postnuptial agreement can be essential to protect premarital assets or inherited assets, and to protect children from a previous marriage. In Massachusetts, a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement will be enforced if it is equitable at the time it was entered into and at the time of enforcement. Nussbaum Family Law can help you draft and negotiate an effective, enforceable prenuptial or postnuptial agreement or examine such a pre-existing agreement to determine whether it is enforceable or vulnerable to challenge. We can assist you craft a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement through mediation, mediation support, collaborative law, or direct representation.
If alternative dispute resolution in the form of collaborative law or mediation is not an option, Nussbaum Family Law offers negotiation-based representation up to and through pre-trial conference, at which time the vast majority of matters settle. Attorney Nussbaum will draft and argue motions and a pretrial memorandum on your behalf, all the while negotiating settlement favorable to your interests and your children, if applicable.
Parties usually file for no-fault divorce in Massachusetts, alleging that the marriage has suffered an irretrievable breakdown. In an uncontested petition, parties may agree upon terms before going to court and file a joint petition for divorce, known as a "1A" petition. Where the parties are unable to agree on terms ahead of time, a party may unilaterally file a "contested" petition for divorce, known as a "1B" petition. Even when a petition is contested, it will convert to an uncontested petition if and when parties are able to reach agreement on the terms of divorce. Nussbaum Family Law will work with you to file a divorce petition depending on your needs and your particular situation. We believe that peaceful resolution of divorce is usually but not always the best way forward for parties seeking divorce.
Massachusetts alimony reform has changed the way alimony functions in Massachusetts. Previously alimony could be indefinite; now in most instances alimony is time-limited, although the Probate Court still has discretion to protect economically dependent, elderly and infirm spouses. There are different types of alimony with shorter or longer alimony terms, including general term alimony, that provides for payments to an economically dependent spouse, rehabilitative alimony, that provides for payment to spouses to complete education or find employment, reimbursement alimony, payments for a spouse to be compensated by monetary or non-monetary contributions that allowed the other spouse to complete education or job training, and transitional alimony, that allows spouses to adjust to a different lifestyle or location. Nussbaum Family Law can advise you on the different forms of alimony and advocate for the most advantageous application of the alimony laws.
In Massachusetts, the Probate Court divides marital assets based on equitable considerations, including: (i) the length of marriage; (ii) the conduct and contribution of the parties during marriage; and (iii) the parties’ relative education, needs and ability for future earnings and acquisition of assets. Although in practice there is usually a presumption of equal division for a marriage of long duration, there may be complex factors that might override that presumption. Division of assets can be complicated by premarital assets, inherited assets, business valuation, partnerships, stock, other monetary vehicles, and other types of property. Nussbaum Family Law can advise you as to valuation and the equitable division of these and other assets.
The amount of Child support depends on the amount of income earned by both parents and takes into account health insurance premiums, work-related child care expenses, and pre-existing child support orders. The child support guidelines define what is "income" for purposes of child support, as well as a formula for calculating child support. Child support can deviate from the guidelines in situations where a child has special needs or where the payor parent has unusual circumstances. Special rules under the Massachusetts child support guidelines also now apply to high-income families. Nussbaum Family Law will advise you on child support and advocate for the most beneficial application of the alimony and child support laws to meet your children’s needs.
Child custody and parenting plans
Massachusetts law on child custody has evolved to favor joint legal and physical custody when in a child’s best interests. Nussbaum Family Law can help you craft a parenting plan that works for your family and is in your children's best interests, and when appropriate, will work with trained child specialist professionals who can help you reach an agreement. When agreement is not possible, Nussbaum Family Law will work with guardians ad litem (court-appointed professionals who investigate and make observations and recommendations to the court regarding parenting plans) to help determine what arrangement is in your children's best interests. Nussbaum Family Law has extensive experience dealing with the Department of Children and Families (“DCF”) and help you navigate DCF investigations and allegations of child abuse and neglect.
Modification and contempt
After divorce, you may need to modify child support, child custody, or parenting plan where there has been a “material change in circumstances,” or to enforce an agreement or judgment where the other party is not following its terms. Examples can include a substantial change in income, a party’s failure to pay child support or alimony, or when the best interest of a child requires a modified parenting plan. Nussbaum Family Law provides mediation, mediation support, collaborative law services and direct representation in issues involving modification or contempt.
Nussbaum Family Law assists family members or other interested parties in obtaining guardianship for children when parents are unable or unavailable to maintain their care and custody. We also represent parents or children in modifying or vacating guardianships when they are no longer necessary.
Either because you or your former spouse has received an unfavorable result at the trial level, you may need appellate representation. Unlike many capable trial level law practices, Nussbaum Family Law can offer you extensive expertise in appellate practice. We are experienced at identifying appellate issues from a trial judge's decision and can confidently navigate the complicated appellate process. Attorney Beth Nussbaum has had nearly 20 years of experience in interpreting prevailing case law, preparing clear and concise appellate argument, and appearing before the Massachusetts appeals courts on a multitude of occasions. Click here to see a sampling of Beth's numerous published and unpublished cases: https://www.avvo.com/attorneys/02067-ma-beth-nussbaum-1356243/legal_cases.
LGBTQ divorce and family law services
Nussbaum Family Law provides divorce and family law services to same-sex/LGBTQ couples or individuals, who are entitled to the same rights and protections as heterosexual parties.