Many things change after divorce – people move, change jobs, get laid off, children get older and have different needs such as college expenses, and more. Covid-19 is affecting many people’s lives, and impacting their work as well as their financial health.
Covid-19 may force a re-evaluation of certain terms of divorce or other judgments, and require a modification of the judgment. While there may be limitations to modifying your judgment because of language in your specific agreement or the terms of your divorce or other judgment, Massachusetts law generally provides that a party can seek modification of a prior court judgment including alimony and/or child support if there has been a material change of circumstances. Covid-19 for some people may result in a material change of circumstance where job loss or reduction in hours makes it impossible for a party to meet financial obligations ordered by the Court. Continue reading “Modification of Alimony and Child Support during Covid-19 and Beyond”
In the midst of Covid-19, many people feel “stuck” – stuck at home with their spouse or partner but wanting to end the relationship. With the Courts temporarily closed, people may feel there is “nowhere to go”. There are ways in which you can start the process of divorce without court, and find a way to become “unstuck”. You can start preparing for divorce or other family law process without going to Court, and using the time you do have to make preparations for moving forward. How do you prepare? Continue reading “How To Prepare for Divorce – Get Unstuck”
Use Mediation or Collaborative Law for Resolving Divorce Out of Court
Albert Einstein said, “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity”. With limited access to the Courts right now due to Covid-19, why not try to resolve your divorce or other family law conflict out of court?
You don’t have to wait for the Courts to reopen, and in fact you shouldn’t – even when they open, they have a back log and it will take some time for your case to move through the Court system. You can turn these extraordinary circumstances in which we are currently living, into an opportunity to resolve your case using an out of court dispute resolution process such as Mediation or Collaborative Law.
In Mediation you hire a neutral third party who is usually an attorney, who works with you and your spouse to resolve your differences and reach agreement.
In Collaborative Law, both you and your spouse have attorneys at the table who are advocates not adversaries, and who take a settlement approach rather than the litigation route to help you and your spouse reach a mutually beneficial agreement for the family. Continue reading “Circumstance = Opportunity”
Karen J. Levitt, Levitt Law Group, LLC, will once again be part of the faculty for training future Collaborative Law professionals, at the Massachusetts Collaborative Law Council annual basic interdisciplinary training. This year’s two-day training will take place at the Ocean Edge Resort, Brewster, MA, on September 24-25, 2020. Karen and her fellow faculty members spend two days in an interactive training program that immerses participants in the theory and practice of Collaborative Law, both in divorce and family law and other areas of practice such as probate and business. The program combines lecture with role plays and discussion for an interesting and lively two days of training. To see who will be joining Karen as faculty and to register, go to https://massclc.org/civicrm/event/info%3Fid%3D720%26reset%3D1
Karen J. Levitt, Levitt Law Group, LLC will be presenting with Susan Miller, Managing Director & Senior Wealth Advisor at The Colony Group, Wellesley, MA, at an MCLC Tri River Practice Group meeting in September 2020. The topic will be “Does Age Matter? – Settlement Options when Parties have a Large Age Discrepancy”. In many of our divorce cases, there is a significant age difference between the parties. This presents challenges with regard to asset division and support, as one party is going to be in retirement much sooner than the other with a reduced ability to acquire future assets and income. This creates concerns around all sorts of issues, such as asset division, child support and alimony, and health and life insurance. Cases with significant age differences between the parties require a critical evaluation of all the issues, and a close review of the financial options available to the parties to ensure an equitable division of assets and liabilities and a division of income that provides for both parties and their children. The use of a financial professional can be helpful evaluating the types of financial projections that may be necessary to appreciate the complexities in these cases, and to help with resolution of the issues. Attending the meeting to hear Karen and Susan speak will be lawyers, mental health professionals, and financial professionals who all work in divorce and family law.
Massachusetts Probate and Family Court Standing Order 2-16, which can be found at https://www.mass.gov/doc/probate-and-family-court-standing-order-2-16-parent-education-program-attendance/download, requires all parties to a divorce action, and at the Court’s discretion parties in other types of actions such as paternity or contempt, to participate in a Parent Education Program. The program is only required if the parties have minor children under 18.
The purpose of the program is to give parties with children some tools to help them work together for the best interest of their children post-divorce. This includes information that will help the parties with co-parenting after divorce, such as giving them some information about child development issues to help children cope with divorce and providing tools that may help the parties have more effective c-parenting communications and therefore less conflict. Continue reading “Massachusetts Court Required Parenting Education Program in Divorce and other Family Law Actions”
We have told you that we are open for business despite the Coronavirus pandemic and that we can work with you using traditional means or remotely – allowing us to continue to provide services to our existing clients and also to take on new cases whether it be litigation, Mediation or Collaborative Law. Many people want to move forward with their existing or new cases as best they can even if they can’t meet in person, and even though the family courts are handling matters very differently right now in these difficult times (see https://www.mass.gov/orgs/probate-and-family-court for updates regarding the Court).
How we work with you depends on you. Some existing or new clients are clear that they prefer in-person meetings, so we are working with them using phone and email, and scheduling in-person meetings for a later date. However, it is often helpful or even necessary to see each other when doing our work, or to collaborate or share or have meetings in a way that is not possible via telephone or email right now, which means using remote working tools such as Zoom or Go to Meeting. Continue reading “Working with you Remotely – What does that mean?”
Karen J. Levitt, Levitt Law Group, LLC gave a presentation at the USA500 Family Law Roundtable on March 25, 2020, regarding the use of neutrals, not just in Mediation, but in litigation and Collaborative Law. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the meeting took place via Zoom, and the presentation was done via Zoom. Karen focused on setting client expectations regarding neutrals, identifying and selecting neutrals, how to work with neutrals as an attorney or mediator and how to help the clients work with neutrals, and ways in which neutrals can be critical to process and outcome. There was a rich discussion regarding the use of neutrals amongst the roundtable members, which included attorneys and financial professionals. There are a wide variety of neutrals that can be used in litigation, Mediation, and Collaborative Law, including financial advisors, pension professionals, business valuators, transactional attorneys, estate planners, special education experts, CPAs to address tax considerations, real estate appraisers, child specialists, and the list goes on. While not all cases require neutrals, the use of neutrals can actually save clients time and money by using a specific expertise to address a specific legal issue in a divorce or family law matter. The engagement of a neutral is usually a joint engagement, giving both parties participation and control. Neutrals can help lawyers and mediators work with their clients in coming up with creative solutions to difficult problems.
All of us are impacted by the Coronavirus, otherwise known as Covid-19. How does it impact your existing case if you are already one of our clients? If you are a prospective new client and want to proceed with your divorce or other family law issue, and get legal advice, or pursue mediation, can you still do that? The need for legal services continues despite Covid-19, and we are available to provide the legal services we have always been providing, including as litigators, settlement counsel, mediators, and Collaborative Law counsel. The Levitt Law Group, www.levittlawgroup.com remains open! What does that mean?
We are continuing to provide legal services regarding divorce and family-related issues to existing clients, taking on new cases, doing meditations, and working with other professionals that assist our clients. We are doing so remotely, to protect our staff and our clients. We are communicating telephonically, by email, and utilizing technology such as Zoom or Go to Meeting to do our work. We are able to “meet” and communicate with our clients, and do mediation, using all these tools. We are also keeping abreast of developments with the Courts. Continue reading “Divorce and Family Law in Unchartered Waters – the Coronavirus”
Karen J. Levitt, Levitt Law Group, LLC was recognized by the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (“IACP”), for “10 years of powerful giving to families around the world” as a Sustaining Links Member. Karen, a member of IACP, and a former member of its Board of Directors, has donated to IACP for 10 years in support of Collaborative Law. Donations to IACP such as those made by Karen, are used for programming, training, events, supporting emerging leaders through scholarships, and helping to introduce families to Collaborative Law. Collaborative Law is an out of court dispute resolution process used in divorce and other family law conflicts, which focuses on settlement by intention and legal advocacy rather than an adversarial process. Both parties have counsel, neutral experts are used where needed, and settlement negotiations take place outside of court and in a confidential setting. Collaborative Law is a very effective and efficient process that provides families with control over not just process but outcome. For more information about Collaborative Law, go to www.collaborativepractice.com and www.massclc.org.