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

Thinking about divorce? Think divorce mediation

January is, in family law circles, known as divorce month. It is a month when many Massachusetts residents who have been thinking about divorce finally take the plunge. It is a new beginning of sorts. Traditional divorce is not the only option out there for those who decide the time to end their marriages has come. Divorce mediation is a good way to get the job done.

Why consider divorce now? The answer to that question will be different for everyone. For some it will be because they feel no hope in salvaging their marriages. They have stopped talking to their spouse; they have different goals or dreams; they feel their needs are not being met. For some it will be all about the money.

How will I receive child support?

Being the primary custody holder of one's children can leave one financially strapped. Child support is generally ordered to make sure children's needs continue to be met when parents split up. How should support-receiving parents in Massachusetts expect to get their funds?

In Massachusetts, child support has to be paid in one of two ways: direct deposit or debit card. Those ordered to pay cannot just give cash or checks directly to the receiving parent. The primary reason for this is to prevent payment disputes.

Fighting for child custody when overseas

Many of our nation's bravest men and women leave their families to go serve in the military overseas. When they do, they want to believe that their rights as parents are protected while they are gone. Unfortunately, some may find this is not the case. For military service members currently residing in Massachusetts, there was a recent story in the news regarding deployment and child custody that may be of interest.

A young man in another state settled down, got married and had a child with his wife. As they often do, marital issues began and by the time the child was 2 years old the couple was divorced and the young man found himself the primary custody holder. The child is now 11 years old and for the first time since the divorce is in the custody of his biological mother -- but not by choice.

Family law attorney can help divorcing couples split IRAs

Whether one's marriage has been a traditional or non-traditional one, the divorce process can be challenging -- particularly when it comes to dividing assets. Certain assets may not be easily split. Thankfully, those in Massachusetts who are going through the dissolution process can turn to their family law attorney for assistance.

One example of a difficult asset to split is the individual retirement account. First off, the account owner may not believe that money should be on the table and subject to division, but generally it is. Secondly, how it is split matters.

What divorce options are available to same-sex spouses?

Same-sex marriage has been legal in Massachusetts for some time now. Unfortunately, just like those who pursue traditional marriages, unions between same\-sex spouses do not always thrive. When they do not, these couples may be left wondering what divorce options are open to them.

In Massachusetts, there are four different types of divorce: contested, uncontested, fault or no-fault. A contested divorce is one in which one party does not agree with the filing or some aspect of the proposed settlement. An uncontested divorce is one in which both parties agree with everything -- or at least do not wish to fight the filing -- and are willing to accept the proposed settlement terms.

Is all alimony tax deductible?

Quite a few Massachusetts residents currently pay spousal support to their exes, and many more will in the years to come. Right now there are tax benefits for alimony payers that can help ease the burden of meeting this financial obligation. Do these benefits apply to all types of alimony?

According to the current tax code, those paying alimony can use it as a deduction when they file their taxes. Of course, to get this benefit, certain requirements have to be met. These include:

  • The ex-spouses must file separate tax returns
  • Alimony payments are made in cash, check or certified funds
  • There is a divorce decree or separation agreement in place
  • The payer and payee cannot live together
  • The payments are strictly for spousal support

Contract job income and child support

More Americans are turning to contract jobs for full or part-time employment. Some go this route in order to gain some freedom and others do it for the extra cash it can offer. While contract jobs can be a good thing, in terms of child support it can make figuring out and obtaining a fair support order rather difficult for the receiving parent. How does the state of Massachusetts treat contract income in terms of child support?

Currently, employers have a responsibility to pull out child support from the pay checks of those who have active support orders and send the money to approved depositories where it is then passed on to the receiving parent. It is believed that 70 percent of all child support is collected this way. However, employers are only required to do this for employees who work full or part-time jobs. This does not apply to contract workers.

Is divorce mediation the best way to go?

When ending one's marriage, it can be difficult to figure out the best way to go about it. There are so many options -- litigation, collaborative divorce and even divorce mediation. As Massachusetts residents who are wishing to dissolve their marriages simply want to make sure they are getting fair settlements, they may wonder if mediation really is the right way to approach the situation.

Mediation is a process that does not generally involve attorneys. It is simply a couple agreeing to meet in a neutral place with a mediator in order to work out a divorce settlement on their own. Not many people believe that they can get fair and balanced settlements without attorneys doing the negotiating for them. This is not necessarily true, however.

When IQ level leads to a custody dispute with the state

What makes a parent a good parent? What is it that makes a parent prepared to tackle the monumental task of taking care of and molding a small human being into a strong and capable adult? According to some states, a parent's IQ matters and when it is not considered high enough, it is reason for some parents to lose custody of their children. This could lead to a custody dispute with the state. This has happened in Massachusetts and elsewhere.

Few feel hopeful when the state takes their children away. But there are those who have been successfully able to get their children returned to them, despite their intellectual disabilities. In fact, a Massachusetts woman won her case back in 2015. Her daughter was removed from her care at only 2 days old. It took two years of fighting in court, but the court ultimately deemed her capable of taking care of her child.

Can breastfeeding affect child custody? The Nicole Curtis case

Whether a mother chooses to breast or bottle feed is a very personal decision. No one has the right to judge what she feels is best for herself and her baby. However, a recent child custody case has people in Massachusetts and elsewhere scratching their heads, as it appears a judge may have the right to determine if, when or for how long a mother can breastfeed her child.

Many women choose to breastfeed their children through infancy and into their toddler years. It is called baby-led weaning. This allows the child to decide when he or she is done and ready to move on to other foods full time. The host of HGTV's show Rehab Addict has chosen to practice baby-led weaning, but this choice is one that may soon be taken out of her hands.

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