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

A woman's search for child support landed her in jail

There is nothing wrong with wanting to make sure one's children are provided for. Unfortunately, many custodial parents in Massachusetts and elsewhere find collecting child support to be much harder than it should be. Those ordered to pay may lack income or have a number of other reasons as they why they believe they shouldn't have to pay up. What can custodial parents do when child support is not being paid?

In another state, a woman tried turning to social media to get her child's father to pay support owed her. In Feb. 2017, this individual posted a picture of her then 2-year-old son, bound and gagged with duck tape. With the picture, she posted a ransom note asking for several thousand dollars if the child's father wanted to see his son again. The mother claims she did this as a joke, but several Facebook members who saw the picture took it seriously and called the police. The woman was arrested and ultimately charged with cruelty to a child.

Modifying child custody plans: The Jolie-Pitt case

Parents in Massachusetts and elsewhere who are going through the divorce process may find figuring out what to do with the children harder than they expected. Child custody plans can help or hurt parental-child bonds. A prime example of this would be the Jolie-Pitt divorce case.

According to a recent report, Ms. Jolie has been the primary physical custody holder of the couple's six children. Mr. Pitt has his visitation time, but it would seem he feels the current custody arrangement is not working nor in the best interest of his children. This custody issue was just heard in court, and it would seem that a judge agrees that the current plan makes it difficult for Pitt to have healthy relationships with his children.

Does going the mediation route mean I don't get an attorney?

You and your spouse are getting ready to go through the divorce process in Massachusetts. You've heard about mediation through some friends and think it may be a good way to go, but you do have some concerns. One question that you have in particular is: Does going the mediation route mean I don't get an attorney?

While it is possible to get through mediation and achieve a fair divorce settlement without an attorney, it does not mean you cannot have an attorney to help you through the process. In fact, an attorney can be present at your sessions if you wish. If you would rather, you can talk things through with your attorney after your sessions. Either way, it is good to confer with legal counsel to make sure you are getting the best deal possible before signing off on anything.

Do child custody issues have to be addressed in court?

Massachusetts couples choose to end their marriages, partnerships, relationships or unions all the time. When children are involved, reaching agreeable child custody terms can be a bit of a challenge. When it is, some people may believe that the only way to resolve custody issues is by going to court. The truth is, that may not be necessary.

Child custody issues can often be settled in mediation. Mediation is where both parties agree to meet in a neutral location with an unbiased third party present to help them hash out an agreement. Going this route can take less time than litigation, and it can cost less as well.

Post-divorce finances and kids' higher education

Numerous parents in Massachusetts would love to help their children pay for college someday. Unfortunately, divorce can affect finances and make such a goal seem almost impossible. Can anything be done to ensure money is there for college, even when dealing with post-divorce financial issues?

The truth is, yes, there are options. If paying a child's college expenses was a goal before a divorce, it may be possible to arrange a divorce settlement that allows the money needed to still be put aside. For example, certain assets may be put into a 529 college savings plan or another financial account, rather than being given to either party.

Things to know about joint child custody

For most Massachusetts residents, the divorce process is not easy to get through -- particularly if children are involved. Trying to figure out the ideal arrangements for children can be hard on parents. The vast majority of parents just want to achieve child custody terms that they believe will do the least amount of damage.

This is where joint custody enters the picture. Sole custody used to be the norm. Mom would get custody, and Dad would maybe see the kids a few times a month. There has been a shift in child custody wants, though. More parents want shared custody, and studies show that this type of arrangement is best for children -- except in cases where domestic violence, addiction and other serious issues are a problem.

Not happy with your child custody arrangement?

Not too long ago, you got a divorce. As part of your settlement, a child custody order was issued that, at the time, you felt was fair or, at least, fair enough. It worked, and you didn't feel it was worth fighting about. Well, times have changed, and you've changed your mind. What can parents in Massachusetts who are unhappy with their child custody arrangements do to address the situation?

Believe it or not, child custody orders are not set in stone. They can be changed if the requested change is thought to be best for the children. That last part is key.

Child support and the out-of-country parent

In today's world, people can live and work just about anywhere. Following divorce or separation from a significant other, this means that one may be dealing with issues that have to take international laws into consideration. A recent case in another state regarding child support and an out-of-country parent may be of interest to Massachusetts residents who find themselves in similar circumstances. 

According to a recent news article, a woman who was a college student at University of California, Davis, took a summer off to travel Europe. While there, she met a man with whom she began a relationship. This relationship ended up lasting some time, even though much of it was spent with the two living a significant distance apart. In one trip to see her then boyfriend, she came home pregnant. He ended the relationship soon after finding out.

Can I seek alimony post divorce?

It is not uncommon for Massachusetts residents to rush through the divorce process. In doing so, things may be left out of the final dissolution settlement that would help one in post-divorce life -- such as alimony. If one's divorce judgment failed to address spousal support, it may still be possible to achieve it with a post-decree alimony request. 

Few people probably realize that this is even an option. One would think that a divorce decree, for the most part, is final -- no modifications allowed, expect where children are involved. This is not necessarily the case. When it comes to spousal support, divorce judgment modification is possible if alimony was simply never addressed during the divorce process. 

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. 

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