CHILDREN & THE LAW
Protecting the best interests of your children with compassion and expertise
Attorney Summers and his team have substantial experience in resolving child-related disputes. Whether in or out of the courtroom, you can count on us to protect your rights as a parent.
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The dissolution of a marriage or partnership raises a plethora of issues. When children are involved, the resulting issues are even more complex as custody issues come to the forefront. To ensure that a fair arrangement based upon the children’s best interests is reached, it is essential that you work with a knowledgeable family lawyer.
Child custody is dual-faceted in that it encompasses both the physical and legal custody of the child. Physical custody is where the child resides while legal custody entails the decision making process for the parents including the right to decide education preferences, religious practices, medical treatments, and activity involvement. Both of these aspects must be considered during child custody proceedings.
Attorney Summers routinely handles child custody cases and can help determine the best custody arrangement for you and your children. He will listen to your desires, review the custody evaluator’s recommendations (if any), identify the children’s preferences, and explain how state laws impact your specific case and family situation. Considering these factors, Attorney Summers will work with you to devise a plan of custody for your children.
Attorney Summers will work with you to achieve the best possible outcome while preserving your parental rights and protecting your children’s best interests.
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Each year millions of parents across the country seek judicial intervention in child support matters. Courts generally adhere to an objective process when determining the proper child support amount. Whether you are a single parent seeking child support or a non-custodial parent with questions about your current support order, Attorney Summers and Summers Family Law can help ensure that your children receive the necessary financial support congruent with your income as well as your ex-partner’s earnings.
Calculation of Child Support
Child support calculation is generally based upon a number of financial factors pertaining to both parties. Attorney Summers will help you compile your financial information as well as ascertain the other parent’s current situation in order to make certain your support obligation is fair in light of both party’s monthly income and lifestyle. Factors commonly considered by family court judges include:
+ Monthly employment income
+ Childcare expenses deducted from your paycheck
+ Additional medical expenses for the child
+ Each parent’s contribution to extra-curricular expenses
+ Costs of daycare or private school tuition
+ Number of children involved in the action
+ Number of dependents of either party not involved in the action
Modifying a Current Child Support Order
If you already have a child support order in place, you may be in need of a modification of the monthly obligation. In general, a court may modify a child support order if it finds the financial status of either party has materially changed and the current support obligation is no longer fair. For instance, if the parent paying support suddenly becomes disabled and is no longer able to work, the court will likely consider reducing his or her support obligation to meet his current income level. Conversely, if either parent experiences a sudden increase in monthly income, the court may decide to adjust the monthly support amount accordingly. If you require a modification to your child support order, our attorneys will help you compile the requisite financial documentation and present your case presentation to the judge in the proceeding.
Whether you are the obligor or obligee, Attorney Summers can work with you to obtain a child support amount that reflects the best interests of your children. If you are having difficulty meeting your monthly support obligation or believe your child’s parent is able to pay more than the amount in the current order, Attorney Summers will work diligently to achieve a modification of support on your behalf.
Want to discuss Child Support?
VISITATION / PARENTING PLANS
Attorney Summers has significant experience drafting and negotiating Parenting Plans on behalf of both mothers and fathers.
A "Parenting Plan" is a comprehensive agreement between separated parents that sets forth a visitation schedule and other provisions relating to the rearing of their children. Such agreements commonly specify pick-up and drop-off times and locations, bedtime routines, holiday visitation schedules, educational and extracurricular commitments, and communication.
When separated parents have difficulty communicating, or when the situation can be described as "high conflict," a well-drafted Parenting Plan can help parents avoid future conflicts arising from a lack of guidelines in dealing with responsibilities relating to the children. Without detailed understandings about these responsibilities, disputes can arise and protracted litigation may be needed to resolve these issues.
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RELOCATION WITH CHILDREN
If you desire to relocate with your child, or if your child's other parent has expressed a desire to relocate or has served you with a Complaint seeking removal, Attorney Summers can help.
The law commonly refers to the act of leaving the state with your child as "removal." When a divorced parent desires to move from Massachusetts with his/her child, he/she must either (1) receive permission from the other parent or (2) seek permission from the Court. If the matter is litigated, the parent seeking to relocate must demonstrate that the move would be in the "best interests" of the child. For obvious reasons, "removal" cases are often the most hotly-contested and emotional matters that are litigated in the Probate & Family Courts.
Attorney Summers has considerable experience litigating removal cases and is well-versed in the intricacies of removal statutory and case law. While Attorney Summers encourages out-of-court settlements between parents, he is a skilled trial attorney who can tactfully litigate a removal case from initiation through the post-judgment phase.
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Attorney Summers has experience representing both mothers and fathers in paternity actions.
"Paternity" actions refer to requests for custody, child support, and/or visitation by unmarried parents. While unmarried parents have rights and responsibilities similar to those of married parents, there are notable differences. It is therefore critical that you have a skilled attorney on your side who is well-versed in the state's paternity laws.
Put simply, the unmarried mother of a child born out of wedlock has full custody by default; the father has no legally enforceable right to see or take the child unless the mother agrees. If the mother will not voluntarily acknowledge the father's identity, then he may file a paternity action in the Probate & Family Court. The court can then legally declare that the man is in fact the father.
Once the father's identity has been established, he is then able to seek court orders for custody or visitation. At the same time, it is probable that the father will be ordered to pay child support to the mother. As can be imagined, being declared the father of a child creates solemn legal rights and responsibilities that have long-lasting consequences, so it essential to have competent representation throughout the process.
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If court appearances are necessary, you can rest assured that Attorney Summers possesses the requisite trial advocacy acumen to secure "contempt sanctions" from the court, including the payment of your attorneys' fees.
If your ex-spouse (or, if never married, your child's other parent) has failed to meet court-ordered obligations, you may then be entitled to "contempt sanctions" against them. While a Complaint for Contempt may be filed as a result of any violation of a court order or judgment, it is most often filed because of an ex-spouse’s failure to comply with a parenting plan, child support, property division, or alimony order.
Attorney Summers skillfully prosecutes contempt actions such that the party disobeying the court order or Judgment will likely "make good" on his/her obligations prior to ever stepping foot in a courthouse.
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Has your life changed such that continued compliance with an existing court order or judgment is no longer feasible? If so, you may be able to modify your existing court order or judgment.
Has your life changed such that continued compliance with a judgment of the Probate & Family Court is no longer feasible? Has your income decreased such that you can no longer pay the same amount of alimony to your former spouse? Has your child developed needs that might warrant an increase in child support? If so, you may be able to modify your judgment.
Certain judgments of the Probate & Family Court are modifiable upon a proper showing of changed circumstances. Attorney Summers has considerable experience modifying judgments, either by agreement or through litigation, and can assist you in achieving the modifications you desire.
Want to discuss Post-Judgment Modifications?
“I was referred to Tyler and his firm for assistance with contentious custody and child support issues. With his help, I was able to reach a full agreement with my child's father, and we only had to go to court once. Tyler's expertise in all aspects of family law is very impressive, and he's extremely comfortable in court (and also seemingly well-liked by court staff).”
Here’s what some of our clients have said about our services: