Mediation & more

Out of court solutions are often the best ones. Learn more about mediation, collaborative law, and other alternative dispute resolution. Learn more about mediation, collaborative law, and alternative dispute resolution.

Fixed Fee Services & Coaching

“Unbundled” legal services, coaching, or Limited Appearance Representation (LAR). Learn  about how this could work for you…

Guardianship, Adoption & Surrogacy Agreements

Are you a caregiver? We can help. Read here for info on adoptionguardianship, conservatorship, artificial reproductive technology, and surrogacy agreements.

FAMILY LAW

DIVORCE
No one ever marries intending to divorce, but many marriages end that way. You aren’t alone.

Creating two households from one can be complicated, economically and emotionally. We’re here to help you separate the emotions from the “business deal” aspect of divorce. We’ll also help you choose the best process and approach to restructuring your wealth and family. It’s not a “one size fits all” experience . Read our articleYour Divorce: Amicable, Contentious, or Somewhere in Between.

For starters, get answers to your questions on our Resources page.

Other resources for parents going through the divorce process:

ABUSE PREVENTION
Abuse prevention (restraining orders) and anti-harassment orders
When you need protection from domestic violence, or if you are served with a restraining order, you need a staunch legal advocate. Although restraining orders can offer strong protection against serious physical harm and threats, they can be exploited and misused. We can help you determine whether you need protection from abuse, or if you need representation in restraining order proceedings. In these emotionally charged situations, your safety and protection is our top priority.

Here’s another good resource – MassLegalHelp.

ALIMONY & ASSET DIVISION
Dividing property should be done equitably, and that doesn’t always mean equally. We will guide you through the tremendous complexities of asset and debt valuation and division. We have particular experience with especially valuable and complex assets, such as businesses, pensions, real estate, and trusts. These require special attention to make sure they are properly valued.

We lead you through alimony case law, formulas, and special considerations the courts employ. Since Massachusetts passed the Alimony Reform Act of 2012, alimony questions have become increasingly complicated and uncertain. Read our articleAlimony: Navigating Unchartered Waters.

And read this has a helpful article on the types of Alimony on mas.gov.

INTERSTATE & INTERNATIONAL FAMILY LEGAL ISSUES
State laws vary considerably and will impact your divorce or custody dispute if you, your partner, or your child(ren) are planning a move to another state or country. Special legal considerations come into play before you can “remove” a child to another jurisdiction (or, sometimes, to a different part of Massachusetts!)

We will thoroughly discuss these key considerations with you before you file for divorce or plan a move.

SAME-SEX & NON-TRADITIONAL FAMILY LEGAL ISSUES
We offer you experienced and compassionate counsel. Attorney Kent has represented gay and lesbian couples in their divorce and custody disputes for decades – before, during, and after the landmark Goodridge case that legalized same-sex marriage in Massachusetts.

PRE- & POST-NUPTIAL AGREEMENTS
Proper planning before and during marriage can give couples more security about what wealth they do and do not want to share. A poorly written pre- or post-nuptial agreement can be struck down or reshaped by the courts. We make sure your agreement meets your needs – and the court’s – today and down the road wherever it may lead.

POST DIVORCE MODIFICATION & CONTEMPT
You need the wisdom to know what battles to fight and how to fight them. Even the best divorce agreements can’t always address every future situation, nor can they stop new issues (or a repeat of the same issues) from arising.

Changing – or interpreting – a divorce or custody agreement, requires legal advice and careful attention. We will help you determine whether you need to file a complaint for contempt or change a court’s judgment, and support you every step of the way if that course of action is deemed necessary.

LEGAL AGREEMENTS FOR SURROGACY & ASSISTIVE REPRODUCTION TECHNOLOGY
Attorney Diane Esser was once at the forefront of creating legal structures for people who need sperm and/or egg donor agreements, surrogacy arrangements, and other unconventional adoptions. Her legacy continues at Esser Kent. Legal advice is essential (and often required by doctors and clinics who specialize in such medicine) before you embark on these arrangements.

PARENTING PLANS (formerly called “custody” arrangements)
A plan for your child(ren)’s living arrangements and how you will communicate with your former partner is one of the most important elements of a divorce. We will work to create a reasonable plan for both parents that, first and foremost, takes into account your child(ren)’s needs. There is no “one-size-fits-all” agreement, but there are tried-and-true patterns that can ease your child’s life post-divorce. We will apply our decades of experience to select the elements that best fit your family’s circumstances. See our child custody article Splitting the Baby.

More resources for divorced parents:

  • Read Planning for Shared Parenting – A Guide for Parents Living Apart (PDF)
  • Read this Guide about joint custody  

CHILD SUPPORT
Because child support involves highly emotional issues, byzantine legal guidelines, and many other considerations, it is a very good idea to have an attorney negotiate this important element of your post-divorce life. We will help you navigate the formulas, calculations, and guidelines that take into account the amount of time a child spends with each parent, expense sharing, and other factors.

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“UNBUNDLED” SERVICES & COACHING

We love to empower our clients to work on their own case. Our “Unbundled” Legal Services and Coaching – also known as Limited Appearance Representation (LAR) – offers you ownership and the solution to your problem which can lead to more comprehensive, lasting, and affordable outcomes.

If you choose LAR we can assist you in whatever capacity you desire, whether it’s drafting a motion or reviewing a financial statement. We can guide you at important junctures, but let you take the lead when you feel comfortable handling matters on your own.

Limited Assistance Representation might be a good fit for you if:

  • You need legal help but your budget is limited
  • Your case doesn’t involve too many technical matters that are hard to communicate

Learn more about Massachusetts LAR here (PDF).

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GUARDIANSHIP & ELDER LAW  

 

GUARDIANSHIP
Unfortunately, there are times when extreme circumstances force the temporary or permanent curtailing of a parent’s right to care for a child. We will work with you step by step to present your case in a compelling fashion in order to meet the extremely high standard of proof for taking away a parent’s rights.

INVOLUNTARY COMMITMENT
Involuntary commitment for people with drug or alcohol addiction (also called “Section 35”)
Addiction to painkillers and heroin is an epidemic and a horrific problem for an increasing number of families. If you need to get your child or loved one into a treatment program, you also need to navigate the legal system that can get them there. We can file the petition that will give the court the power to send your family member to a treatment center, at least on a short-term basis.

GUARDIANSHIPS & CONSERVATORSHIPS
No one likes to think of having to take over day-to-day activities for an elder. But sometimes you might need to become the guardian of an elderly relative to protect him or her from abuse, or to get that person into the right care-giving situation. If you need only to direct and protect an elder’s financial affairs, a “conservatorship” will serve the purpose. We can help you decide which is a better path.

Here is the Handbook for Massachusetts Conservators. (PDF)

ADOPTION & GUARDIANSHIP
We will assist you in selecting the type of adoption or guardianship best suited for your situation, and help you clear the many required legal hurdles to bring your new family member home.

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MEDIATION, COLLABORATIVE LAW, ADR

“An ounce of mediation is worth a pound of arbitration and a ton of litigation!”Joseph Grynbaum

MEDIATION
Mediation is a voluntary process where people in conflict identify issues, develop options, consider alternatives, and work towards a consensual agreement. In divorce and other intimate conflicts, mediation allows important negotiations to occur privately and confidentially. The key is knowing whether you and your spouse have the ability to mediate. If there is a history of abuse, an imbalance of knowledge or money, or an unbridgeable difference in views, mediation might become a costly diversion.

We can help you learn about the process and evaluate your case to gauge whether it is a good option for you. Read more about mediation at mass.gov.

Why our Mediation services might be a good fit for you:

  • In some cases mediation can save you money and stress by avoiding attorney fees and time in court
  • Our trained mediators also have a legal background which allows them a deeper understanding of the legal issues surrounding your case. Read our take on mediation – “Why Your Mediator Should Be a Lawyer.”

For some questions and answers about mediation, check out this helpful information from the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts.

COLLABORATIVE LAW
For helpful information see Collaborative Divorce and Family Law from the Massachusetts Collaborative Law Council.

ALTERNATE DISPUTE RESOLUTION (ADR)

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