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

Dealing with a post-divorce dispute? Try mediation

After the weeks, months or even years of working out a divorce agreement, you would think that you would not have to revisit it. The terms have been set and that is it, right? Well, what happens if you have a post-divorce dispute that needs resolution -- such as over custody or support? Yes, it happens and no, you may not have to go to court over it. In Massachusetts, you are allowed to try mediation.

The simple truth of the matter is, certain aspects of a divorce settlement are not set in stone. Under certain circumstances some things may be adjusted. Some people think litigation is the only way to address post-divorce conflicts, but that just is not true.

Paying child support when exes still live together

When a couple is ending their marriage, it is usually expected that one or both parties will move out of the shared residence and into their own places. However, in Massachusetts and elsewhere, more divorced couples are choosing to continue living together -- for their children or financial reasons. This type of living arrangement can bring up some questions, though, such as, is paying child support necessary?

In the state of Massachusetts, both parents are expected to provide for their children. Generally, the non-custodial parent or higher-earning parent is the one who has to provide the other with child support payments. This does not change if a former couple continues to reside in the same residence.

What types of alimony does Massachusetts allow?

Every state has different spousal support laws. This week, this column will address the different types of alimony recognized by the state of Massachusetts. This is not something that is applicable in every divorce case, but for those who do qualify for spousal support, it can drastically improve their post-divorce financial situations.

So, what types of alimony are there? Massachusetts recognized four different types of alimony. These are:

  • General term
  • Rehabilitative
  • Reimbursement
  • Transitional

Child support and the out-of-state parent

It is not uncommon for Massachusetts residents to move out of state following divorce. They may need to move for work or other personal reasons. At the end of the day, it does not matter why they move; what matters is that they continue meeting any of their court-ordered obligations -- such as child support -- after they do relocate.

Court orders do not change just because a person moves out of state. The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act allows all states to enforce family law orders, regardless of what state they originated in. Those who want to change their orders of support would need to file official modification requests in court or work out a new agreement with their former spouses. An experienced Massachusetts-based attorney can help those living out of state who wish to seek child support adjustments of Massachusetts family court orders.

Divorce mediation Q and A

When figuring out how to approach one's divorce, it is easy to get overwhelmed at the options that are actually out there. There is more than one way to divorce. For Massachusetts residents who are looking for a nontraditional route, divorce mediation may be the answer. This week's column will address some common questions about the mediation process.

Question number one is: Is mediation really an economical choice? Litigation can be very expensive. If a couple can avoid going to court by being willing to negotiate the terms of their divorce, yes, mediation can save them money in the long run.

Child custody: Do fathers get the short end of the stick?

Nationally, there is a movement to offer mothers and fathers equal access to their children when the couple's relationship fails. This movement is not new, so one would think that more fathers would feel that they are being treated equally in the eyes of the law. Unfortunately, according to a recent report, many fathers do not feel this way. When it comes to child custody, are fathers in Massachusetts and elsewhere still getting the short end of the stick?

Technically, family courts have moved to offering shared custody agreements in all cases where they are deemed appropriate. The keyword here is appropriate. In other words, it has to be deemed to serve the best interests of the child. 

Paying child support in Massachusetts: How to

When faced with an order to financially support one's children due to divorce, separation or paternity establishment, one might have a lot of questions. For example, one might want to know how child support is to be paid. Every state does things a little differently. Here is how child support payments work in Massachusetts.

One would like to think it is possible to hand over cash or a check to the other parent. That is not how child support works here. In fact, this practice is strongly discouraged as it would be too easy for the receiving parent to deny ever getting the money.

When a child custody case goes to court

While many custody issues can be resolved privately, there are some parents in Massachusetts who end up needing the courts to decide with whom their children will live and how parenting plans will be set up. If this happens, it is okay. Parents can get through this and even walk away with the child custody agreement they were hoping for if they approach the situation just right.

So, what should parents whose child custody cases end up going to court do to help themselves? First, always arrive to hearings on time and be prepared. Second, show a willingness to collaborate with one's ex. Third, exercise one's parental rights. Finally, fourth, understand that appearance and representation in court matters.

When a child's needs require a child support adjustment

The one thing you can expect in life is that change is inevitable. Things happen and adjustments need to be made sometimes. This is certainly true when it comes to child support. If you have a support order in Massachusetts and your child's needs have changed, you may seek to have your order modified.

The thing with child support is that an order is written for a family's situation at that time. What happens if a child experiences a medical event? What happens if a child gets involved in an expensive sport or hobby? What happens if there are changes to a custody plan? A number of things may happen between the time an order is entered and a child turns 18 that require both parents to reconsider how much each is required to provide in financial support.

Growing your family the nontraditional way: Adoption

You want to grow your family and you have chosen to adopt in order to do that. Growing your family in this nontraditional way can be challenging. The adoption process often takes much longer than people expect it to, and it is filled with a million little hoops that need to be jumped through before a child ever finds his or her way into your home. There is no way to really fast-track the adoption process in Massachusetts, but with the assistance of legal counsel, it is possible to make sure everything that needs to be done is done right in order to avoid any delays.

If you want to adopt, there are a few ways to go about it. No matter how you choose to handle it, there are standard procedures that need to be followed. Filling out paperwork and having home studies completed are just the beginning. When all is said and done, it can take months or even years before the courts allow you to take a child home as your own.

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