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Appeals

An appeal is a request for relief from a decision of a lower court.  It’s basically asking the Court to overturn a lower court’s ruling, order or finding based upon the fact that the lower court’s decision was in error.  Christine is an experienced lawyer; both at trial and appeals.  She can help if you’ve been convicted at trial.  You have the right to appeal — contact us today for a free consultation of your case.

Criminal Law

When you are in a difficult situation that requires the assistance of a knowledgeable, caring representative, turn to the Law Offices of Christine G. DeBernardis. Christine has the experience to help you get the best results.  The outcome of a criminal matter will affect your future. Make sure that your interest is protected and that you have an experienced advocate on your side. You can contact Christine G. DeBernardis in her Massachusetts office at (978-225-0661).

Divorce

Divorce and separation are tough on a family.  Everyone want to provide advice and it’s hard to know who to trust.  You need an advocate that is fair, experienced and compassionate.  Christine has nearly 20 years experience working with families both in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Contact us here to schedule a free phone consultation.

Areas of Practice

Nearly 20 Years of Professional Experience

The Law Offices of Christine G. DeBernardis have been helping families through difficult times for nearly 20 years, assisting clients with the different aspects of both New Hampshire and Massachusett’s family law.

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Specializing in Family Law

Christine focuses on issues related to family law. Uniquely experienced as both a trial and appellate attorney enables her to provide legal advice and representation for divorces, separation, annulments, child support and custody, adoption,  grandparents’ rights and more.

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Providing Civil and Criminal Expertise

Christine has been a trial attorney for both civil and criminal cases in Massachusetts for 20 years.  She is also a seasoned appellate lawyer in both New Hampshire and Massachusetts for a variety of civil and criminal cases.

Do I have to pay child support without a court order?

Do I have to pay child support without a court order?  This is a question that I see often in my practice. The answer is two-fold: there’s the legal advice and the practical...

Annulment: Legal vs Religious

Annulment:  Legal versus Religious – an important distinction In the past  I wrote an article about annulment in each state:  Massachusetts and New Hampshire.  As I wrapped up...

Should I contact an Attorney about Divorce?

If you’re having trouble in your marriage, you feel overwhelmed.  You feel like it's going to get better, yet it never does.  Your friends and family may be unaware of the true...

Shared Physical Custody: A Growing Trend

Years ago, when a couple parted ways, it was simply assumed that the children would live with their mother and have visitation with their father. Typically, the father's...

What Does Child Support Cover? Part I

Paying child support is a double-edged sword.  Parents are court ordered to pay but have little, or no, say-so on how it is spent day to day.  There are some court mandated...

Creating an Irrevocable Trust Can Save Your Loved Ones

The words "irrevocable trust" often seem intimidating to many of my clients.  However, when used properly, this can be an effective estate planning tool.   If designed properly,...

Why Do I Need an Estate Plan?

Recall in our first article on estate planning that we introduced you to some general information question about estate planning.  Let’s start our series out now with a very...

Parental Alienation: the Aftermath

In a previous article, I wrote about  parental alienation.  It is one of the most vicious things a parent can do to another parent because it can  destroy the relationship...

Massachusetts: Joint Petition or Complaint for Divorce

In Massachusetts, there are two ways by which a party can file for a divorce. The first is commonly known as a “joint petition.” The second is commonly referred to as a...

Massachusetts Divorce: “What’s this going to cost me?”

   Whether you’re the husband or the wife, the bread winner or the stay-at-home parent, cost is typically a factor in consideration of a divorce. At some point during every...

New Hampshire: The First Appearance

    You’ve filed for divorce and you’ve received a notice that you must attend something called a First Appearance. So, what is this?     If you are a party to a divorce action,...

Child Support: Two Part Series on Common Issues – Intro

Certain questions become very common in the practice of divorce and parenting.  Particularly with the commonality of changing jobs more often than in the past and second...

Is Your Child Being Abused?

A common worry for parents often centers around protecting their child from people who prey on children.   Most children spend their days away from their parents in the care of...

My best divorce advice: Don’t listen to your family & friends!

Sounds silly, right? It’s the best divorce advice that any attorney can give is don't listen to your family & friends. Your family and friends always want what’s best for...

Do I Need a Holiday Schedule?

Question: Do I need a holiday schedule in my parenting plan/divorce agreement? I see this question a lot in my practice, particularly where the parties seem to be working...

Myths of Divorce

If you are considering divorce or even in the middle of one, it's critical that you are receiving good advice.  Advice from family and friends may seem helpful but can lead you...

Brangelina: What If They Divorced in Massachusetts?

I can’t imagine you’ve listened to the news or radio over the past week without having heard something about the pending divorce of Brad Pitt and Angelia Jolie.  The two...

The Safe Driving Law in Massachusetts

There is a lot of press recently about texting while driving all over our country but particularly in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Many states have banned texting while...

Convicted of OUI May Get New Trial

If you follow our blogs or the local news, you may have read about an issue involving the breathalyzers used in Massachusetts for the detection of alcohol. The Draeger Alcotest...

West Memphis 3 – An Ongoing Controversy

At our office we are always invested in the rights of those charged with crimes. As such, we stay up to date on a variety of cases, some high profile and some lesser known. This...

Is It Safe To Leave an Abusive Marriage?

A co-worker, "Pat",  confides to you during lunch one day that her "marital bliss" has all been a sham and that she thinks she has just learned to accept her husband's abusive...

Who is Using Your DNA?

Who is using your DNA? If you have watched any television recently, you may have noticed an increase in the DNA profile commercials.  You know the ones – “I thought I was from...

Why Do I Need a Trust?

Welcome back to my series on estate planning. I hope that our articles have been helpful and informative. If anything else, I want to spark thought on this topic and help you...

Can an Attorney Represent Both Parties in a Divorce

I receive calls frequently from potential clients who are seeking an attorney to counsel the parties, together, for a divorce. This happens for a variety of reasons. You want to...

How to Survive the Holidays During Divorce

The holidays are a time for family.  It's supposed to be a time to look back and reflect on those wonderful memories together.  When you are in the midst of a divorce, or you’ve...

The Only Person that can Change a Court Order is the Court!

I come across this issue fairly often, many different contexts, and decided that it was a great issue to discuss here. It is very clear in all contexts. If you are subject to a...

2017 Child Support Guidelines – Part 3

In part 3 of our series on the 2017 Child Support Guidelines, we will be addressing child support for children between 18-23 years old and parental contribution to post-secondary...

What qualities do I look for when hiring an attorney?

Choosing an attorney is not a simple process. Do your best to make a good decision at the outset of your case and you will win in the long run with a respected advocate on your...

Children and Divorce: It’s Me or Her!

Moving on after a divorce by pursuing  a new relationship can be difficult for the children of the previous marriage.  While the parents may be ready, even eager, to move on and...

Visitation Part 2: Pick up, Drop off and Last Minute Schedule Changes

It’s very rare that parties to a divorce, or parents who are no longer in a relationship, get along very well. After all, if you did, you’d likely still be together, right? It is...

Post Divorce Parenting: Helping Your Child Succeed

Life for a child of divorce can feel like a war zone. They often feel torn between two people who have completely different opinions and different life styles. The rules can vary...

Who wants a Life Estate?

I am sure that you’ve all heard the recent news that Hugh Hefner put the Playboy Mansion up for sale.  For a mere $200 mill, you can purchase the mansion and call it your own –...

Can my spouse take my inheritance when we divorce?

Can my spouse take my inheritance when we divorce? Often my clients arrive concerned for their divorce consultations and are very worried about their spouse taking an inheritance...

What Constitutes Parental Abduction?

It's a sickening thought, wondering if your child may be abducted by your ex-spouse and taken without your consent, outside of the court's order, maybe even across state lines....

CWOF – May I have another?

A while back I wrote an article telling you about a CWOF. What is it? How does it work? What does it entail? You can check that article out here: What is a CWOF.   Recently I...

Arsdale Appeals and Alimony

Recently two new cases came down from our SJC that you should be aware of, both relating to alimony. The first, SUSAN VAN ARSDALE vs. WILLIAM VAN ARSDALE, focused on the...

Missing Mollie – Update

UPDATE It's a sad but all too familiar end to the story of yet another missing young woman.  Today the body of missing college student, Mollie Tibbetts was found dead.  Police...

Can I stop paying my child support without going to Court?

Often things happen that makes a parent think that they are no longer required to pay child support. A daughter joins the military. A son drops out of college. A child graduates...

What does Child Support Cover: Medical Bills

We are continuing the series about Child Support and the things it covers.  This article will focus on expenses incurred that are outside the actual child support payment but...

Massachusetts: How does Separate Support Differ from Divorce?

In Massachusetts, I am often asked about the difference between Separate Support and Divorce.  Actions for Separate Support and Divorce are two very distinct options that are...

Communicating on Social Media During Divorce

If you have read the news recently, you probably noticed that social media has come under fire for a couple of things.  First, social media outlets have been accused of creating...

Can a Child Choose Their Parent After Divorce in Massachusetts

Massachusetts : When can my children decide in whose home they want to live? Often I am asked "can a child choose their parent after the divorce"?, so I thought this would be a...

Protecting Your Children From Sexual Predators – Part II

In our last post, we wrote about ways you can take precautions to protect your child from sexual predators who are related to the child - either by blood or marriage.  In the...

Should You Date Before Your Divorce Is Final?

You filed a Complaint for Divorce and are ready to move on with your life. Should you date before your divorce is final?  Can dating someone hurt you while you are going through...

Absent Parents: The Parent Who Used to be Absent

Absent parents is a topic that I see frequently in my practice. Here’s a perfect example: Mom was pregnant but dad wanted nothing to do with her, or the baby, during pregnancy...

Paternity: How can I establish paternity of my child?

If you are wondering how to establish paternity of your child, chances are, you have read up on some of the variety of ways and may have become confused on the right path to...

Changing Your Name After Divorce

Many things change when you get married.  One of those is often the changing of your last name.  If you changed your last name to your husband’s last name upon marriage, you now...

Estate Planning After Divorce

Estate Planning After Divorce After a divorce, the last thing that anyone wants to think about is seeing an attorney, legal matters, planning the future, that sort of thing. The...

Modification: The In’s and Out’s

As life changes, you may find yourself in a situation where your current order (or judgment) no longer applies to your circumstances or seems fair, given your life changes. If...

I Want to Fire My Lawyer!

If you have every said "I want to fire my lawyer, you are not alone".  Many times during a case it can seem confusing or overwhelming.  If you are frustrated or dissatisfied with...

What Type of Attorney Should I Hire?

This article is part of a series about why it's important to hire an attorney and the reasons behind hiring an attorney.  The purpose of this series is to help you determine the...

Keep Your Divorce A Private Matter

You have probably seen it in the news.  Johnny Depp and his wife are divorcing.  You may have even searched for details of the settlement.  After all, he's bound to be worth...

Custody Case Takes a Turn – The Brad Pitt Saga

If you’re not living under a rock, and if you are a loyal reader here on my site, I am sure you’ve heard about the custody battle between Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Some...

New Hampshire: Child Impact Seminar – Updated Link

In New Hampshire, all parties to a divorce, or any case that surrounds parental rights, activities and/or responsibilities, must attend the Child Impact Program. This program is...

Marital Property: What is it?

Far too often I meet with a client for consultation who is concerned that a certain asset is not a marital asset because it is not “in [their] name.” A client may say “well, we...

Should I Use Software Law Rather than an Attorney?

When I was in law school, my brother gave me a box of software used for estate planning as a gift. He thought that since I was in my first year of law school, it would be a great...

After Divorce: Why is my Child So Angry?

Part of my practice in family law deals in working with parents after the divorce and the adjustment of the families after the "dust settles", so the speak.  Often the parents...

Five Tips for Attending Court

Often I am asked "what do I wear?" or "is there anything that I need to know about going to Court?" Below are tips for attending Court that I find rather useful. 1. Dress...

How do keep my divorce moving forward?

     This is a common question in my field and it’s one of the most difficult to answer, unfortunately. Divorces can take many paths. The outcome of each case is truly dependant...

For my Massachusetts Divorce, do I need my marriage certificate?

In Massachusetts, when you file a Complaint for Divorce, you must also file a certified copy of your marriage certificate. You may want to keep your copy or you may not have it....

Supreme Judicial Court Announces Interim Procedure for Attorney and Self-Represented Party Participation in Juror Voir Dire

Supreme Judicial Court Announces Interim Procedure for Attorney and Self-Represented Party Participation in Juror Voir Dire BOSTON, MA – The Supreme Judicial Court today...

Who Gets Our Family Dog in the Divorce?

It's a common scenario.  Boy meets girl and they fall in love.  They buy a home or rent an apartment.  Wanting to share their love, they adopt a dog. Over the next year or so,...

Divorce After 50

Picture This:  You married your high school sweetheart.  You settled down and had a couple of kids early in life whom are now out of school and have families of their own. ...

I Want Her Out Now!

I want him/her out - now! When a married couple agrees to divorce, it signals the end of the union. However, it is easy to recognize that there are still many unanswered...

Visitation: Part 1: What happens if a parent never shows up for visitation?

     While you hate to give up time with your child, you know that the visitation with his other parent is good for their relationship, can be a very positive thing and (let’s...

Child Support and Attribution of Income

I hear this statement a lot (more out of frustration than anything else):  “You can’t get blood from a stone. I will just quit my job and she won’t get any support!”   It sounds...

Cheating Spouse: How Do You Know?

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have been all over the news lately about their divorce.  There have been numerous reasons cited for the divorce.  Everything from drug abuse to...

Can I have an attorney for mediation?

    Often I have people consult my office that either want to or have agreed to attend mediation (through a court process or otherwise). They tell me that they can “work it all...

Massachusetts: The Annie Dookhan Drug Lab Scandal

    By now I am sure that a lot of you have heard of this case. A Massachusetts drug lab chemist was found to have falsified drug certificates by neglecting to test samples that...

Massachusetts Complaint for Contempt – Serve that Summons!

Many times a case gets dismissed for failure to provide adequate notice to the other party that a complaint has been filed.  This is because the the other party has a right to be...

Protecting Your Children From Sexual Predators

Protecting Your Children From Sexual Predators Over the past few years, we have seen horrible stories pertaining to children who were abused by either those they trusted or...

What are temporary orders in Massachusetts?

What are temporary orders in Massachusetts? ​When a divorce begins, rarely do the parties consider temporary orders in Massachusetts to be a necessity, however they ask the court...

Paying Child Support Without a Court Order

Paying child support without a court order Paying child support without a court order is a question that comes up very often in my practice.  This can apply anytime there is a...

Losing Custody of Your Child

Losing custody of your child is one of the most heart-wrenching things a parent can endure.  As a family attorney, I am often asked about the types of things that will result in...

Divorce: Moving on When Others Won’t

Divorce is rough.  It's an emotional roller coaster for everyone involved.  Just getting to the point where a couple decides that divorce is the only solution left is often...

Social Media and Legal Action

The biggest piece of advice that I can give to a client is to refrain from social media when you are involved in litigation.  Be it a criminal case, a divorce, a restraining...

What Does Full Disclosure Mean for My Divorce?

Each litigant involved in a paternity or divorce action is required to complete and submit a form to the Court, and the opposing party, must provide “full disclosure" of your...

Parental Alienation: Divorce and Custody Series

Divorce can have a variety of effects for both parents and children. Children often feel misplaced and at fault so it’s the parents’ responsibility to assure the child that the...

Massachusetts Contempt: Need to Know

 Massachusetts Contempt: What is it? How do I address it? What are the remedies? I hear people use the word “contempt” all of the time, but there is a lot of confusion about...

Family Law: How to Choose Your Attorney

Your family is the most important thing in your life.  Whether you are facing a divorce or a custody battle or a child support dispute, you want to have the “right” attorney by...

Should I Stay Married For the Sake of My Children?

I often see the question posed to me in the middle of a conversation with a potential client, current client or even an acquaintance who knows I practice family law:  should I...

Massachusetts: Parent Education Program Attendance

All parties to a divorce action in which there are minor children, are ordered to attend and participate in an approved Massachusetts Parent Education Program. This requirement...

Termination of Parental Rights

Separation and divorce are never easy times for a couple in distress.  Couples may be disagreeing over money, their relationship and everything in between.  I often receive calls...

Can I get an Annulment, please?

What is an Annulment? In Massachusetts, an annulment is a statement by the Court that you were never legally married. Unlike divorce, which acknowledges that you were married and...

Changing Attorneys Mid-Case

Changing Attorneys Mid-Case Often, folks just like you call me part way through a divorce, or even after a divorce is over, that say that are not satisfied with their attorney. ...

If I signed my parental rights away can I get them back?

I often get questions from overwhelmed parents who feel that, for one reason or another, it would be in the best interest of everyone concerned, if they just give up their...

Wait! We Didn’t Mean to Divorce! Can’t We Get a Do-Over?

During the month of December, the New Hampshire Supreme Court upheld a lower Court’s decision that a couple cannot “un-divorce,” or “vacate” their divorce, by joint motion to the...

Family Vacation After the Divorce

The reality of a divorce or separation often hits families the hardest over holidays and vacation time.  Family vacations may have been where many memories were created over the...

How to Build Financial Security When Facing Divorce

How to Build Financial Security When Facing Divorce If you see divorce or separation looming in your future, there are ways to plan ahead and build financial security to prepare...

What is Sole Custody?

Often people come to me and want “sole custody” of their child.  What does this mean?  Is it often awarded?  Why? How can you convince the Court to award it to you?  Sole Legal...

What is the role of a Guardian Ad Litem in Massachusetts?

I recently received a question on our website about how much input a GAL (Guardian Ad Litem) has with a judge during a divorce and custody case.  That's a complex issue so rather...

What is a CWOF? Continuance Without a Finding

People often ask me "What is a CWOF?" in Massachusetts?  It's a funny term but it's really just an acronym.  A CWOF is a “continuance without a finding.” This is a disposition...

Statutes, Retrials & Double Jeopardy

If you have seen the news this week, you may have noticed that actor and comedian Bill Cosby is back in court over charges of sexual assault.  While that may not be big news, the...

Can I Keep My Home

In the first part of this series, we discussed the marital home and what happens in a divorce to that home.  Click here for our last article- What Happens to the Family Home in a...

Physical Custody

Series Part II - Physical custody/Residential responsibility Often people come to me and want “sole custody” of their child.  I wrote last week about sole legal custody (MA) and...

Just When We Thought He Was Beyond Reach

By now you may have heard that Bill Cosby was recently criminally charged by one of the women who claims that she was drugged and touched by him in the past.  The Commonwealth of...

Fight For Your Right – For Child Support

I get calls from clients on a regular basis who ask me if they should "go after" child support.  Some clients are preparing for a divorce, some are previously divorced and others...

Why do I need a Will?

Why do I need a Will? Welcome back to my series on estate planning. In case you are just joining me, I want to let you know that we are mid-series in a string of articles about...

Kid’s Corner: The “Do’s”

This is part two of my advice for dealing with your children in divorce. I’ve already made my disclaimer that I’m not a therapist by any means. I do have children of my own. I do...

You Want Me to Communicate with Her? You Don’t Know My Wife!

Sound familiar?  I hear this comment on a regular basis.  It seems counter intuitive to ask that a couple going through a divorce, sometimes a contested and harsh divorce, do the...

Appeal a Judgment

I recently came across this article "How to Appeal a Judgment without an Attorney."  Being fairly intrigued, I read the article looking for holes that I could use in writing this...

Prenuptial Agreements: Why Would I Want That?

It's hard to think that a divorce might happen when you are in the midst of planning your marriage and happily dreaming about the rest of your life, isn’t it?  How do you plan a...

Divorce and Drama…oh the Drama!

We laugh about it when we see it on TV.  We shake our heads in disbelief when our friends tell us about it in their lives.  But suddenly, you find yourself in the midst of a...

The Queen Had Soul But No Will

Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, was recently laid to rest.  Her service was like no other in our history.  Musicians from all genres came out to pay respects with praise and...

Estate Planning: Planning Ahead

Nobody wants to think about their death. It's unpleasant no matter how you look at it.  However, planning ahead is more than simply dividing up your worldly assets.  It can...

A Child’s Right to Decide: New Hampshire

New Hampshire: When can my children decide in whose home they want to live? Okay,  New Hampshire readers – I promised you would hear my thoughts on a child's right to decide...

Letting Go After Your Divorce

Divorce can be devastating even when both parties agree. Letting go after your divorce is difficult at best.  It's an emotional roller coaster, particularly when children are...

What To Do (and Not Do) If Your Spouse Is Cheating

It’s a difficult prospect to think that your spouse may have strayed from your marriage.  Most people find this shocking and upsetting, not knowing what to do (and what not to...

Custody: Can My Child Decide?

Very often I am asked “when can my child decide choose where he lives?” or “at what age will the Court listen to my children’s input?” The short answer to this question is that...

The New Tax Bill & Alimony

It's a new year and we thought we would start it off with an article about something that's been all over the news for weeks - the new tax bill.  Some love it.  Some hate it. ...

​ Can you get a restraining order on behalf of your child?

​As a parent it is our number one job to protect our children. In today's world, with all of the technology, there are more ways than ever for a child to be targeted. Children...

Am I Going To Jail for Shoplifting?

Many times I speak to a new client that is charged in a criminal case and their main concern is “am I going to jail?”   That is a logical question when you commit a criminal...

Can I sign away my rights to my child?

I am asked the question, "can I sign away my rights to my child" rather often, whether it be asked by the father or the mother of a child. Here’s an example of what I see in my...

What is the Automatic Restraining Order?

When a Divorce is filed, an automatic restraining order on assets immediately applies. This prohibits you, and your spouse, from encumbering, selling or transferring certain...

New Child Support Guidelines 2017 – Part 2

Welcome back to part 2 of our series on the new Child Support Guidelines (2017 version).  This section will address the increase to the minimum child support order.  If you...

Divorce Without Consent: Can I divorce without my spouse’s consent?

A very common question is whether you can get divorce without consent.  Of course! The old adage that you need your spouse to “give you a divorce” is no longer. You can proceed...

Who Gets the Engagement Ring?

The contemplation of marriage, instituted by the engagement of the parties, traditionally brings with it an engagement ring given from one to another.  Some have sentimental...

When to seek counseling for your child?

Divorce and separation issues are very hard on children.  Whether parents are starting the divorce, discussing the break up or have already gone their individual ways, children...

Why Family Should Not Provide Your Legal Representation

It's a common situation.  A person is in need of legal representation for one reason or another, and because of restricted funds, reaches out to a family member who is also an...

Should You Ask For a Lawyer?

Asking for an attorney, whether you have committed a crime or not, is not only smart - it's YOUR right.  In spite of news media or the way TV portrays our legal justice system,...

Am I the right attorney for you? Schedule a phone free consultation today to discuss your case and decide if I am the person you want on your side.  Contact me now at: 978.225.0661 or 603.373.0545.  You may also  email me in confidence.