1. Parent Education Program
Plaintiff/defendant to a divorce action w/ minor children must register with an approved program within 30 days of service of the complaint upon defendant.
- Other parties may be ordered to register, and must do so within 30 days of an order.
- List of approved programs.
- Costs $80 (unless fee waiver- reduced to $5)
3. Waiver of Parenting Education?
Only applicable if either party:
- Is incarcerated
- Is being hospitalized
- Is in the military service
- Does not speak English
Will be scheduled for hearing
4. Watch on DVD: Parenting Education?
Include reason why the party is unable to attend in person
May be granted upon a showing of:
- Significant health or financial issues
- Geographic issues
- Transportation issues
- Other significant barrier to in person participation
- Will be scheduled for hearing
Still must complete the interactive program and obtain/file the Certificate of Attendance with the Court within 30 days of completion
7. Rule 410: Mandatory Self Disclosure
Parties to a divorce action must exchange the following within 45 days of service of the summons:
- Federal and state tax returns for past 3 years
- 4 most recent pay stubs
- Documentation regarding cost of available health insurance coverage
- Bank account statements for 3 years
- Stocks, bonds, 401K, IRA, pension statements for past 3 years
- Loan or mortgage applications for past 3 years
- Any financial statement prepared during last 3 years
9. Finalizing the Case
Standing Order 1-06 Time Standards
Standing Order 4-08 Parent Education Program requirement Motion to Waive Parent Education Class
File Request for Trial, if case is uncontested
File Request for Pre-Trial Conference, if case is contested
- Pre-Trial Memorandum
- Pre-Trial Conference
- Pre-Trial Order and Trial date
- Separation Agreement
- Proposed Judgment, where there is no Separation Agreement
Judgment of Divorce Nisi
Follow up - Is wage assignment in effect? etc.
10. Temporary Orders
Remains in place only temporarily as it “expires” when the parties either complete a separation agreement which is merged into a final judgment or when the court enters a final judgment as the result of a trial.
Get orders for:
- Child Support
- Child Custody
- Spousal Support
- Health Insurance
- Uninsured Medical Expenses
- Mortgage payments
- Extracurricular activities for the Children
- Other child-related expenses
- Other expenses
- Other issues
12. Temporary Orders: What to file
A Motion for Temporary Orders
An affidavit accompanying the motion, as needed
Certificate of Service with notice of hearing date
13. Temporary Orders: If you need a hearing
Preparing for the Hearing
- Prepare client’s financial statement.
- Prepare client ahead of time and know what they are looking for.
- Prepare Child Support Guidelines worksheet for the hearing with different financial scenarios.
- File Financial Statement with Assistant Judicial Case Manager.
- Exchange Financial Statement with opposing party/counsel.
- Engage in negotiations and discussion with opposing party/counsel and client.
- All motions in Suffolk and Norfolk start in FSO (aka Probation), in Middlesex if there is one or two attorneys you go to the courtroom to check in.
16. Separation Agreement
- Appropriate where spouse has or will seek counsel.
- Tailor any boilerplate carefully to your case.
- Merger versus Survival.
Issues re: children (custody, child support, visitation) may always be modified.
17. Request for Final Hearing
Submit the following to the Court:
- Proof of Return of Service
- Proof of Attendance at Parent Education Program, if there are children
- Request for Trial or uncontested hearing
- Client’s Financial Statement
- Proposed Orders
18. Uncontested Final Hearing
- This occurs when the defendant does not file an answer to the complaint or show up at the hearing
- Prepare client’s testimony ahead of time for final hearing
- When you arrive in court, check in with Assistant Judicial Case Manager
- File Client’s Financial Statement and Proposed Orders
- Wait for case to be called
- Present testimony
- Judge may ask counsel to present a prima facie case or judge may inquire of the parties.
- If there is a separation agreement, both parties will be asked if they find it fair and reasonable, and if they made full disclosure on their financial statement.
Note: If defendant shows up for an uncontested hearing, the case cannot go forward without a separation agreement.
19. Contested: Pre-trial Conference
If your case is contested, the court will schedule a Pre-Trial Conference.
In advance of pre-trial hearing:
- Conduct 4 way meeting
- Prepare and submit Pre-Trial Memo
- Updated financial statement for client
At pre-trial hearing, judge will try to narrow the contested issues and to settle the case.
The majority of cases settle at the pre-trial conference stage.
Be prepared with a separation agreement and extra copies to modify during negotiations.