Barbara J. Katzenberg, Attorney at Law
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Worcester Family Law Blog

Does “birdnesting” work for kids after divorce?

One of the most common concerns among parents who are seeking a divorce is how the separation will impact their children. While children of all ages and stages are going to experience the aftermath of the divorce, it is possible to minimize the detrimental effects of this process. 

According to an article published on NBC News, many divorced parents are "birdnesting" in hopes of keeping the home environment as stable as possible for their children.

You were issued a child support order, now what?

Financial supporting one's children is every parent's responsibility. This does not change when a couple separates or divorces. When a relationship officially comes to an end, one parent may be ordered to pay child support. If such an order is issued in one's case, applying for child support services offered through the state of Massachusetts Department of Revenue is generally a good idea.

It does not matter if one is the paying parent or the payee, child support services can help ensure support obligations are met. There are certain circumstances for which filing for such services is suggested. Some of these circumstances include:

  • Questions over paternity exist
  • There is a need to enforce a support order
  • There is a want to re-open one's child support case
  • There is cause to modify a support order

Massachusetts family law: Adoption eligibility guidelines

Wanting to bring a child into one's home is a noble cause. There are a number of reasons to utilize the adoption process. The state of Massachusetts does, however, have strict guidelines when it comes to this family law matter, particularly in regard to who is eligible to adopt and how the adoption process is to work.

Who is able to adopt children, according to state laws? For starters, any individual requesting to adopt a child has to be of legal age, which, in Massachusetts, is 18 or older, and must be a current resident of the state or attempting to adopt a child who is currently a resident. Married, unmarried and single individuals are all also encouraged and able to adopt. 

Figuring out child custody when your child is a teenager

Being a teenager is difficult. Most adults, if given the opportunity to go back to their teenage years for a do-over, would say no thank you. People are happy to move on from that awkward stage in life. Divorcing parents of teens in the state of Massachusetts need to remember what it was like being that age when dealing with child custody issues. More problems are likely to arise not only when creating parenting plans but when carrying them out -- why?

Teenagers have a lot to deal with on a daily basis, just like everyone else. However, at that phase of life, when trying to gain a sense of self and becoming independent, accepting what one's parents do is not likely to come easy. Teenagers are not shy about speaking their minds. They will likely have a lot to say about how child custody should work and complain if their parents struggle with co-parenting.

When is it okay to seek an alimony adjustment?

When spousal support is included in a divorce settlement, both parties may feel that what is ordered is what they have to live with. Many Massachusetts residents are not aware that alimony orders can be modified under the right circumstances. When is it okay to seek an alimony adjustment?

The number one reason for a payor or payee to seek an alimony adjustment is that either has experienced a change in circumstances. A good example here would be either party receiving a pay raise. If it was the payor, the payee may request a higher alimony amount. If it was the payee, the payor may request to have his or her obligation lowered. There are a number of circumstantial changes that may warrant the modification of a spousal support order, and a few others include:

  • Decreased need
  • Increase in living expenses
  • Financial emergency
  • Law changes
  • Cohabitation/remarriage
  • Disability

2 things parents may not know about child support

Very little about the divorce process is easy, especially if a couple has children. Figuring out child custody and support issues can be a tremendous burden as not all parents agree on what is best for their kids. When it comes particularly to child support, there are two things that all divorced or divorcing parents in Massachusetts should know.

First and foremost, just because a child support order has been issued, it does not mean it is permanent. These orders may be adjusted if either parent can put forth a good argument as to why the modification is necessary. Support modifications can be achieved through parental negotiations or litigation. Either way, the courts have to sign off on any changes for them to become legally binding and enforceable.

Parental alienation can lead to a custody dispute

Parental alienation is something with which too many Massachusetts residents are familiar. This is where one parent does or says things to his or her children in an effort to harm their relationship with the other parent. This kind of behavior can ultimately lead to a custody dispute in which going to court is necessary. Legal counsel can help victims of alienating parents seek fair access to their children and seek to have the offending parties held responsible for their actions.

Parental alienation is not seen in every divorce case. There are divorced couples out there who believe that children benefit from having both parents in their lives in a positive way -- and they are right. Unfortunately, when a divorce is ugly, emotions are running high and punishing one's spouse becomes the goal. Parental alienation is one form of punishment that might be used.

Divorce mediation and other options for ending one's marriage

When it comes to getting a divorce, there are a number of options open to Massachusetts residents. Why? A one-size-fits-all approach to ending a marriage simply does not work. This week, this column will discuss all of the divorce options available, including divorce mediation -- which is often the preferred method.

Option number one: traditional settlement negotiations. The way divorce has worked for a long time is, each party retains lawyers, the lawyers do the negotiating, a settlement is drawn up, papers are signed and then both parties can move on with their lives. This is a popular option because it keeps the burden of achieving a fair settlement on the attorneys and limits how much spouses have to see each other throughout the process.

Will working overtime affect my child support order?

Life, divorce and supporting oneself and one's children can be expensive. Picking up overtime shifts is one way that Massachusetts residents can improve their financial situations when money is tight. However, be aware that the money earned from overtime work may increase one's child support obligation.

At the end of the day, whether overtime pay is counted toward a child support order is up to a judge. According to the Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines, a judge may choose to ignore the overtime pay, consider only a portion of it or consider all of it. In order to determine if this extra pay should be counted toward one's support obligation, the judge will want to know the following:

  • Are the extra shifts required by one's employer?
  • Will the overtime pay be consistently available?
  • Will the overtime work affect the parenting plan?
  • What are the economic needs of the parents and children?

Mediation, a better way to divorce

Are you thinking about ending your marriage? Are you worried about dragging things out in court? Guess what? Massachusetts residents do not have to litigate their divorce cases. For some couples, mediation may be a better way to get through the dissolution process.

Mediation is where a couple agrees to meet with a third party to negotiate divorce terms. Legal counsel can be present at these sessions or at least turned to for advice when needed. In some cases, the mediator may be an attorney; however, the mediator's job is not to help either party achieve a better settlement. The mediator's job is simply to keep the process moving along and help both parties understand current state laws surrounding divorce, support, property division and child custody.

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Barbara J. Katzenberg, Attorney at Law
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Worcester, MA 01608

Phone: 508-471-3281
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