Family Law FAQs

1. Can I modify child support?
All issues concerning the children, including child support, visitation, custody and college can be modified if you have experienced a material change in circumstances, and the Court finds that a modification would be in the best interest of the child.

2. Can I modify an alimony order?
Whether you are able to modify alimony will depend on the language contained in your divorce agreement or judgment.  Your attorney will review that language in order to discuss your options.

1. Can I establish child support if we were never married?
Yes. Parents are financially responsible for supporting their children, whether they are separated, divorced or never married.  There are two different ways to establish a support order when the parties were never married, a Complaint to Establish Paternity and a Complaint for Support, Custody and Visitation. Your attorney will determine which action to file after meeting with you.

2. What is the difference between a Complaint to Establish Paternity and a Complaint for Support Custody and Visitation?
If you and the other parent were never married, and you wish to establish an order of child support, custody or visitation, you will need to file a Complaint to Establish Paternity or a Complaint for Support, Custody and Visitation.   A Complaint to Establish Paternity is filed when the Father has not yet been adjudicated to be the parent of the child, because he did not sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity at the time child was born.  A Complaint for Support, Custody and Visitation is filed if the Father has already signed a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity or otherwise has been determined by a Court to be the legal Father of the child.

Either parent can petition the court to establish child support, custody and visitation arrangements.

1. What is a Complaint for Contempt?
If one party fails to obey the terms of a Court order or judgment, the other party may file a Complaint for Contempt.  Complaints for Contempt can be filed for noncompliance or violations of any terms of the order or judgment, whether it be payment of child or spousal support, custody, visitation or transfer of assets.  If the court determines that a party has willfully disobeyed the court order or judgment, the Judge can find that person in contempt and issue an appropriate remedy.

2. Who pays for the attorney’s fees in a Contempt action?
If the Court finds the other party to be in Contempt, you may request that the Court order that person to pay your attorney fees.  It is within the Court’s discretion to award a party attorney fees, and as such, your attorney will discuss with you the propriety and possibility of obtaining attorney fees in your particular case.

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State Massachusetts