Divorce and Family Law


A divorce is one of the most emotional event in a person's life.  Whatever the reasons that got you here, it is imperative that you work with an attorney that you can trust to keep your best interests in mind throughout the process without incurring any unnecessary expenses.  At Knight Law Offices, we strive to finalize your divorce in an economical and efficient way while still preserving all of your rights.  It is important to remember that divorce doesn’t have to be the end of the world. 

The impact of the decisions you make during your divorce will last for years. Through sound legal counsel, we can guide you toward smart decisions that will give you the most equitable outcome for the long term and help you maintain the necessary working relationships going forward.


The amount of child support can be agreed upon by the parents and entered by the court as an order. Otherwise, it is usually determined with the aid of the Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines. Some of the factors considered are the income of each parent, number and age of children, child care costs and the child's health insurance coverage, and extraordinary expenses (such as travel for visitation). The court may also determine the amount based on how much the person could be earning rather than on actual income, if it feels that the person is not making a reasonable effort to earn more.

Payments are usually made through "income assignment," in which child support is deducted from the parent's paycheck and sent it to the DOR, which in turn sends it on to the custodial parent. This procedure may be waived by mutual agreement or a judge's order. If you lose your job, you may request a reduction in your child support by filing a complaint for modification, and scheduling the matter for a hearing before the Probate Court judge.


One of the most important aspects to any divorce in which children are involved is the determination of child custody and support. Each family is unique in this respect, but all must come to grips with questions such as where and with whom will the children live? Who will make important decisions about their lives? What contact will they have with each of the two parents? How will their financial needs be met?

Hopefully, the parents can weigh these questions together and try to reach the best possible arrangement for the children. If not, then the custody issue must go to court. But even in this case, both parents must constantly convey love and reassurance to their child as well as respect for each other.

Legal custody means who makes the major decisions about issues such as education, health, medical care, emotional development and religion. (An important exception is that even a parent with sole legal custody can't take the children from Massachusetts permanently without the prior permission of the other parent or court.) Physical custody refers to the time the child spends with each parent. Joint legal custody, in which the decision-making responsibility is shared by both parents, is quite common.

Less common is joint physical custody, in which children spend considerable periods of time, perhaps several weeks or months of each year, alternately with each parent. Generally, one of the parents is awarded sole physical custody of the children (judges will try to keep siblings together). This means that the children will live with the "custodial parent", who is in charge of making day to day decisions concerning the child. The "noncustodial parent" is granted visiting rights, which might mean that the child spends several hours, weekends or some vacation time with that parent. Supervised visitation may be ordered if there is any concern over the child's safety.

Child custody laws in Massachusetts focus on the needs of the child and who can best meet those needs. Thus, the court seeks to provide the best and least disruptive living arrangements for the children of a divorce while considering the importance of a child's continuing relationship with both parents. Some important factors that will be weighed are the child's well being; adjustment to family, school, and community; relationship with the parents; history of abuse, drugs or abandonment; which parent has been the primary care-giver. The law in Massachusetts does not grant preference to one parent over another based on gender.

Although you will have to document your work and financial situation, income is not necessarily a deciding factor, as judges can award child support in order to make up for income differences between the custodial and the noncustodial parent.

In Massachusetts, the court appoints a "Guardian ad litem," who is in charge of evaluating the child's situation and making recommendations as to the best possible arrangement for the child. This is usually a psychologist who, as part of the evaluation, will meet with each parent and observe their interaction with the child. Be prepared to give your views on child discipline and truthfully state your strong and weak points as a parent (and what you are doing to correct the latter).

Be prepared also to answer specific questions about your role in your child's life. Do you help your children prepare for school or bed? Cook for them? Wash their clothes? Meet with teachers? Take them out? Where? What about doctor's and dentist's appointments? Do you go to their school and sports events? Plan their birthday parties? Know their friends? Read to them? Spend time with them? These are roles of the primary caregiver, and they carry a great deal of weight in the custody decision.

Whatever the custody decision is, remember that you are both parents and always will be. As such, your role, whether custodial or noncustodial, is to provide your children with unfailing support, love and reassurance throughout the divorce process and beyond.


A court may appoint an individual as a guardian, who is not the parent of a minor child under age 18, when an action under G.L. Chapter 209C is not pending. Appointment of a guardian may be appropriate when one or both of the parents are found to be unfit, unavailable to care for the child, abandon the child, or surrender custody to a third party and guardianship is in the child’s best interest. Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 201. Once the guardian is appointed, the guardian will make all of the decisions about the child’s care and custody. The guardian will have the responsibility to determine where the child lives, attends school and what kind of medical treatment the child receives. In disputed cases, a nonparent cannot be appointed as a guardian absent a finding that a parent is unfit.  When a child is 14 years of age, the parents and child can assent to the appointment of a third party guardian.

To begin a guardianship, a party must file a petition with the probate and family court where the child resides. A party must also file an Affidavit Disclosing Care and Custody Proceedings. The court may also require the petitioner to file a bond to protect the child’s assets. If the child has property less than $100, then the bond can be filed without sureties. If sureties are required, the petitioner can use personal sureties. This requires two individuals to sign the petition who are pledging their liability for the penal sum. The penal sum is defined as an amount equal to one and one-half times the value of the child’s personal estate. The penal sum will need to be listed on the bond along with the signatures from the sureties. If the petitioner cannot obtain personal sureties, corporate sureties may need to be obtained. In this circumstance, the penal sum is the value of the child’s estate.


If you are attempting to adopt a child, your best friend along the way can be an experienced family law attorney — someone highly familiar with adoption law, adoptive parents and creative solutions to their problems.

Linda E. Knight is grateful to you for attempting to give a stable home life to an available, deserving child. Adoption is one of the more satisfying practice areas in all of family law. Ms. Knight works and lives your case with you, and it shows.

Linda Knight knows the adoption process. As a guardian ad litem, she knows about children's issues. As an adoption attorney who accepts parent coordinator appointments, she knows about parental aspects of family law. You will appreciate her firm, comprehensive grasp of what you need to finally realize your adoption goals.

Adoption is not a do-it-yourself project. You can benefit from the input of a skilled family lawyer who knows about parenting and children's issues. Please contact Linda E. Knight of Knight Law Offices today.

Experienced in Juvenile and Family Probate Court Attorney Knight can help you pursue certain kinds of domestic adoptions and resolve collateral issues, such as:

  • Open adoption
  • Closed adoption
  • Relative adoption (step-parent adoption and grandparent adoption)
  • Foster parent adoption
  • Same-sex couple adoption
  • Domestic partnership adoption
  • Guardianships
  • Termination of parental rights
  • Custody and visitation
  • Special needs issues