Family Law

Family Lawyer StonehamThe selection of an attorney is an important decision in any divorce or family dispute. The outcome of a family law case can affect your life and the lives of your family members for years to come. Attorney Johanna Gatta will guide you through the complex family law processes and procedures. When you have a question or need information, you will get a prompt response to your inquiry.

When you work with Attorney Johanna Gatta you have the benefit of working with a legal professional who is experienced and aggressive, and who gives you and your case the personalized attention that you need in order to reach the best outcome possible. When you contact our firm for a consultation, you will meet with Johanna Gatta personally.

Call us today at (617) 791-8887 to schedule your free initial consultation.

Areas of Family Law:

  • Contested Divorce
  • Uncontested Divorce
  • Child Support
  • Child Custody
  • Parenting Time
  • Alimony & Spousal Support
  • Paternity
  • Father’s Rights
  • Domestic Violence & Restraining Orders
  • Modification of Alimony
  • Modification of Child Support
  • Modification of Parenting Time
  • Modification of Child Custody
  • Contempt Action
  • Adoption and Guardianship

Legal Services for Divorce and Family Law


While most people know someone who has gone through a divorce, only people who have experienced divorce understand the challenges involved. We understand the complex divorce process and will help you make the best decisions for you and your family. We have guided families all over Massachusetts through the divorce process: we understand divorce law, and we can give you the best advice available.

We will make every effort to expedite your case according to the highest legal and ethical standards. We will ensure that your rights and assets are protected. We will address a number of relevant financial issues to your divorce, including but not limited to:
-Property division
-Equitable division of marital assets and debts after divorce
-Division of business assets and current assessment of value
-Division of retirement accounts, pensions, stocks, bonds, and personal property
-Spousal support and spousal maintenance
-Child custody and parenting schedules
-Temporary custody, legal custody, physical custody, interstate jurisdiction, and out-of-state orders
-Child support, child support enforcement, contempt, and post-judgment modification
-Enforcement and contempt actions


Spousal support, which is often referred to as "alimony" can be awarded for a number of reasons.
When determining alimony, courts look at a variety of criteria, including:
-Length of the marriage
-Age of the parties
-Health of the parties
-Income, employment and employability of both parties, including employability through reasonable diligence and additional training, if necessary
-Economic and non-economic contribution of both parties to the marriage
-Marital lifestyle
-Ability of each party to maintain the marital lifestyle
-Lost economic opportunity as a result of the marriage
-Such other factors as the court considers relevant and material

Massachusetts’ laws relating to alimony have changed significantly. Ultimately, whether alimony will be awarded in your divorce or post-divorce is somewhat complex. An experienced divorce attorney can evaluate your situation, consider a number of factors, and tell you whether an award is likely, and if so, the potential amount and duration of alimony. The court has some discretion for the amount and duration of alimony based on statutory factors. We will make sure you have all the information you need to make an informed, strategic decision.

If you are presently paying or receiving alimony, you may be able to modify the amount and duration of alimony, so contact us to determine whether you may be entitled to a modification.


The process of establishing child support payments often causes anxiety for parents going through the divorce process or paternity suits. Most parents want to pay reasonable child support if they do not have primary custody of their children, however they often worry about the impact of excessive payments. Others who anticipate being awarded primary custody worry they will not be able to support the child at the appropriate level. We understand Massachusetts’ child support guidelines and will guide you through the legal process of determining or modifying child support payments.

Massachusetts' Child Support Guidelines takes into account the combined income of both parents, along with the number of children to be supported, in determining the child support obligation. Credit is given for costs paid for health insurance, dental insurance, vision insurance, child care, and other child support obligations. These factors will help determine how much child support will be paid or received.

Did you know . . .

-It is very important that courts have accurate information regarding each parent’s income and earning potential, and an attorney can subpoena employment records, bank records, and receipts for business income and expenses.
-The court may disregard or include income from overtime or a secondary job.
-The court may attribute income to one party who is unemployed or underemployed.
-The court has the discretion to deviate from guidelines, and therefore you need to contact an attorney to see if you have a situation that qualifies for a deviation.


Please note that if you are currently paying or receiving child support, you may be entitled to a modification of your support order where, under Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines, the amount you could be paying or receiving is different.

Call our office to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss the Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines and changes that may significantly modify child support orders.


Whether handling an amicable parenting plan or an emotionally charged child custody dispute, we provide all of our clients with caring, supportive, and aggressive legal advocacy.

In Massachusetts, there are two forms of custody: legal and physical. Legal custody refers to the child's major life decisions. Religious, medical, and educational decisions are made by the legal custodian(s). Legal custody can be granted to one parent, or decisions split between both parents. Physical custody refers to where the child primarily resides. One parent may have sole physical custody, with the other receiving scheduled parenting time. Or, both parents may share physical custody, which means the child lives with each parent a portion of the time.

When deciding issues regarding child custody, courts in Massachusetts will consider the best interests of the child and the environment that will provide the most stability. The courts may consider many factors, including:
-Suitability of each parent
-Psychological, emotional and developmental needs of the child
-Ability of the parents to communicate
-Prior and continuing care that the parents have given the child
-Wishes of the child
-Safety of the child
-Custodial agreements of the parents
-History of domestic abuse

We zealously represent the best interests of mothers, fathers, grandparents and other interested parties in custody controversies without putting children in the middle of the dispute. We are committed to providing the most effective level of service to each of our valued clients in a caring and compassionate manner. We handle child custody issues including:
-Legal custody, physical custody, temporary custody and parenting time
-Child support, child support enforcement, and child support modification
-Grandparent custody, grandparent visitation and grandparents' rights
-Removal of children from Massachusetts
-Interstate jurisdictional issues


If you are an unmarried parent seeking parenting time with your child, or an unmarried parent who requests child support, you must first establish a legal father-child relationship through a paternity action. We can help to legally establish paternity of your child.

In Massachusetts, a legal action to establish paternity of the biological father of the child, and receive child support, is called an “establishment of paternity.” This complaint may address issues of support, custody, and parenting time. Even if the father is named on the birth certificate, you may need to establish paternity by signing an Acknowledgement of Paternity and submitting DNA testing results to the court. The court may request this information prior to adjudication of


We represent families in regards to the many legal issues that may arise following a divorce, paternity, or other domestic relations judgment. It is a common occurrence that the living situation or employment of one or both parents will change, or that the specific needs of a child will change. Along with this, it is possible to modify child custody, child support, and parenting time. The original agreement that determined custody, support, and parenting time was created under particular
circumstances, and when these circumstances materially change, so should the prior judgment.

Modification of Parenting Time

It may be necessary at some point that you modify the terms of the parenting schedule. Fortunately, we are experienced in helping clients with these types of modifications. Whether you are the custodial or non-custodial parent, you will need legal representation in order to ensure that your interests are represented in court and that you reach a conclusion that is best for you and your child.

Your parenting schedule may be altered to fit your new living or working situation; parenting time may be suspended if this is in the best interest of the child; or additional parenting time may be awarded. If parenting time is currently not allowed for the non-custodial parent, an attorney can help that parent seek and obtain parenting time rights in the first place.

Modification of Child Support

It is important to consult a Massachusetts child support attorney if you believe that you need to modify the terms of your child support. You need a new, valid agreement approved by the court and a court order to avoid possible misunderstandings, conflicts, and contempt actions in the future. Child support can only be modified by an order of the Court, which may incorporate an


Please note that if you are currently paying or receiving child support, you may be entitled to a modification of your support order where, under the Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines, the amount you could be paying or receiving is different.

Call our office to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss the Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines and changes that can significantly modify child support orders.

Modification of Custody

The Court may change custody upon a finding that a material and/or substantial change in the circumstances of the parties or children has occurred since the date of the last judgment; and a judgment of modification is necessary in the best interests of the minor children. Contact us to find out if your situation qualifies.

In most cases, the court will work to keep both parents involved in a child’s life. Some factors which will influence the decision to award or modify custody include:
-Current custody agreement and whether it is suitable for the child
-Stability of environment: the court will usually prefer to keep the child in the same environment, community, school, etc.
-Resources of the parent: the court will typically prefer to award custody to a place where the child has suitable space, a safer neighborhood, adequate food and clothing, etc.
-Parental stability: are both parents stable? Does a parent suffer from an alcohol problem, drug problem, or mental instability? Does a parent have a criminal history or history of abuse?
-Parental participation: who is primarily and actively involved with day-to-day care of the child, and with the child’s school, medical appointments, and activities?
-Preference of the child
-Child's relationship with each parent and with others in the parent’s household and family


If you have received a judgment in matters relating to divorce, child custody, child support or parenting time, and the other party has failed to comply, you have options. The Law Offices of Johanna Gatta can assist you with post-judgment
enforcement or contempt proceedings.

Whether another parent is behind on child support payments or an ex-spouse now refuses to sell a home that was a term of the property division agreement, we have the skills and experience to seek enforcement. We can file a complaint the court to start the process of holding the other party in contempt of court.

We can seek enforcement of:
-Child support orders and can obtain support arrearages
-Alimony payments
-Parenting time guaranteed to you in a parenting agreement
-Sale of property in accordance with property settlement agreements

Are You Behind in Your Support Payments?

If you have not been able to keep up with child support payments and are being charged with or held in contempt of court, we can try to negotiate a new payment plan so that you can avoid penalties such as wage garnishments and license suspension.