Barbara J. Katzenberg, Attorney at Law
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Worcester MA Divorce Law Blog

When parenting plans involve staying in the family home

When getting a divorce, the last thing most couples think of doing is staying in the family home together when all is said and done. However, a new trend in family law circles involves parenting plans that keep the kids and parents living on the same property together to make things easier on the children. Wondering what that looks like? A number of divorcing couples in Massachusetts may want to know how or if this could work for them.

When ending one's marriage, the goal is to do it in a way that allows each party the ability to move forward. When sharing children, that can seem hard to do. More parents are concerned about the impact divorce has on their kids. They are wanting to find ways to limit the negative consequences often associated with a traditional custody arrangement that involves children being shuffled around. This is why living together post divorce is becoming a popular option. 

Same-sex spouses may need help with second-parent adoptions

In Massachusetts, same-sex marriages have been recognized for several years now. A big struggle many same-sex spouses still have, though, is gaining rights to their own children. Biologically speaking, the child may only really belong to one parent, or from an adoption standpoint, the adoption may only have been awarded to one spouse. It doesn't matter if both spouses raise the child; in the eyes of the law, the child may only have one parent. If you find yourself wanting to have any legal rights to the child you share with your same-sex spouse, you will likely need to go through with a second-parent adoption. 

What is a second-parent adoption? This is when a same-sex spouse can adopt a shared child without it affecting the parental rights of the child's other parent. If approved, this gives both spouses the same rights offered to biological parents, in terms of visitation and custody, if the couple was ever to end their relationship. 

When you want a child support adjustment but your ex does not

Following a divorce or separation that involves children, one parent is likely to be ordered to pay child support. That order of support will stand until either the affected children reach adulthood or a child support adjustment is sought. If only one parent wants to change up the terms of a support order, he or she must file the appropriate motion in a Massachusetts court.

Sometimes, parents can agree that a change in child support is necessary. Of course, sometimes, they cannot. There are times when the support-receiving spouse may feel that more money is needed to provide for the children, and then there are times when the support-paying parent feels he or she is paying too much. When parents cannot agree on this matter, going to court may be the only way to get the issue resolved.

Not receiving your alimony payments?

You went through the divorce process. As part of your settlement, your ex was ordered to pay alimony to you for a set period of time. He or she made payments for a few months and then they stopped. If you are not receiving your court-ordered spousal support, the state of Massachusetts allows you to utilize enforcement options in order to get paid.

You'd think if you have a court order, dealing with non-payment would never be an issue. Unfortunately, it happens all the time. The support-paying spouse either decides he or she cannot afford the payment amount or does not feel that he or she should have to pay. At the end of the day, it is not up to them to make such a decision, though. If they want to modify or end an alimony order, they need to make such a request in court.

What divorce mediation really is

Thinking about divorce? Only hearing horrible things about the whole process? Guess what? It does not have to be as bad as others make it sound. There may be a way for divorcing couples in Massachusetts to get through it without going to court and spending an absolute fortune, and that way is known as divorce mediation.

What is mediation? Divorce mediation is where a couple agrees to negotiate their divorce settlement terms without having to go before a judge. They do this with a mediator present -- this person is there to keep things moving along. A mediator is not allowed to give legal advice or take sides. Those who wish to have their attorney's present during mediation sessions for legal advice and support may do so.

Parenting plans to fit your family

Going through a divorce? Have children that you are worried about? Do not worry. With help, divorcing parents in Massachusetts can create parenting plans that truly fit the needs of their families.

When it comes to child custody and making it work, it is not always easy. Parents will not always agree on what is the best thing. That is why courts have, in the past, focused on giving sole custody to one parent and granting visitation time to the other. More parents, though, have been wanting joint custody over the years, so courts are now leaning to this type of arrangement -- as studies have shown equal time with parents to be beneficial to children. Now the issue is figuring out the best way to make a joint custody arrangement work.

Problems at the DOR causing child support issues

The Massachusetts Department of Revenue has been in the press quite a bit lately -- and not for anything good. Not only did a data breach occur, affecting 39,000 business owners, but an issue in the system has also caused the department to fail in delivering child support payments this year to a number of parents who are supposed to be receiving such funds. Here is what is known about these issues thus far.

According to a recent news report, the Department of Revenue was hacked and the information of certain business taxpayers exposed. While this is a significant issue, it is not related to the child support problem. It is believed that 1,500 parents have not been receiving child support payments since January of this year. 

Cryptocurrency and child support

Every parent who maintains his or her parental rights has a responsibility to financially support his or her children. According to the laws of Massachusetts, every type of income is considered when setting up a child support order. This may include cryptocurrency -- such as Bitcoin.

How much child support one has to pay is determined by looking at a number of factors, starting with the number of children requiring support and the income level of both parents. Then, the court will consider any extra needs of a child and the accustomed standard of living. A support order will then be granted in a sum that provides for basic needs and helps the child maintain his or her current standard of living.

Once nontraditional, same-sex divorce is becoming commonplace

Same-sex marriage has been legal in the state of Massachusetts since 2004 -- long before it was made legal nationwide in 2015. With same-sex marriage comes the need for same-sex divorce options. While this all used to be considered nontraditional, it is now commonplace. This does not mean that getting through the divorce process will be easy or straightforward.

Same-sex divorces are, for the most part, a lot like any other divorce. There are a lot of the same concerns, such as figuring out asset division, determining spousal support, and navigating child custody and support matters. It is the latter of these concerns that are still treated quite differently in same-sex divorce cases.

When divorce mediation is the right choice

During the divorce process, things can get a little heated. Sometimes, going to court is necessary in order for disputes to be resolved. However, sometimes, there is a better way, and court can be avoided. Divorce mediation is for Massachusetts couples who want to avoid court and who are open to the idea of working out a settlement through negotiations.

Divorce mediation does not occur in a courtroom. It takes place at a neutral location where both parties and a mediator meet to discuss all aspects of a divorce settlement. Each party may bring legal counsel with them, which can prove helpful, or they can go without counsel and ask their attorneys to review any settlement terms before signing anything.

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