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Massachusetts Divorce Law Blog

Frequently Overlooked Parenting Issues in Divorce

divorce angry couple.jpgWhen you are in the final stages of hammering out a divorce agreement with your former spouse, one of the most dangerous things you can do is settle on parenting issues on the courtroom steps - especially at the very last minute, right before seeing the judge.

When proposals are hastily scribbled on legal pads or in the margins of an already-drafted agreement, mistakes can happen. In the rush and with the pressure of courtroom drama, it is easy to overlook some important issues. For example, you may not have made provisions for telephone contact with your children when they're not with you, or access to certain records, such as report cards and medical reports. Failure to deal with such issues can make your life, and that of your children, more difficult in the future.

No hasty decisions: Massachusetts separation agreements

Boston spouses sometimes live apart for some time before taking legal action to end a marriage. Some individuals or couples request separation agreements to establish rules about child custody, support and property. Separation agreements may seem like temporary, disposable terms to get through the divorce process, but taking them lightly is not recommended.

Separation agreements are forerunners to divorce judgments. In fact, a separation agreement is often incorporated into a divorce agreement. Therefore, the choices you make during separation may last long past a divorce decree.

Transitioning through a Boston divorce

Some Boston spouses probably imagine life beyond the end of an unhappy marriage to be different than it actually is. Spouses who initiate divorces may look forward to embracing a new freedom, free and clear of the past. Some are surprised to learn the transition from a married to an unmarried state isn't entirely liberating.

For most Massachusetts couples, the divorce process – at least the legal aspect -- begins with the filing of a petition and ends with a decree. Along the way and beyond divorce, ex-spouses and their children also encounter physical and emotional changes: relocating, furnishing a new home, adjusting to a one-income lifestyle and coping with changes in personal relationships.

How long can I receive alimony after a Massachusetts divorce?

Different states employ different terms for support paid by one spouse to an ex following a divorce. Traditionally, alimony has been used to describe what some states, including Massachusetts, refer to as spousal support or maintenance. Just as the name has changed, so have conditions under which spouses are ordered to pay or qualified to receive alimony.

General term alimony is support paid when one spouse is financially dependent upon another. This economic reliance may be the result of a health issue or lack of employability, including the absence of an education or training to obtain a self-sustaining job. In some cases, one spouse becomes dependent by sacrificing a career to raise children or support the other spouse's goals.

Tax changes that accompany a Massachusetts divorce

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Complications of separation and divorce include tax matters, which may not be immediately apparent to Boston spouses dealing with the daily stresses attached to ending a marriage. Tax implications occupy every possible divorce issue, whether it's spousal maintenance, child support, custody or property division.

Under Massachusetts and federal income tax laws, the status of a marriage on the last day of the year determines filing status. Your options include married filing jointly, married filing separately and under some circumstances, head of household. Married taxpayers who are otherwise qualified may file as head of household if they have been separated from a spouse for more than six months.

2015 Massachusetts divorce resolutions kick in

It's an annual phenomenon that surprises few attorneys. The moment the holiday season ends, a flood of divorce actions begins. The sudden legal escalation is not confined to Massachusetts.

A Boston psychotherapist, quoted in a recent MarketWatch report, called the nationwide trend the "New Year's Resolution Syndrome." Divorce lawyers correctly have predicted client surges, starting on the first business day of January. Sometimes, the wave of requests for divorce information, filings and modifications remains high through March.

What Massachusetts parents can do to ease divorce for kids

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You may read all sorts of advice about how to manage the divorce process. At some point, disagreements over property, support and child custody are behind you. You, the ex and your children are living the post-divorce life, but how are you doing with the parenting plan?

There's no denying a Massachusetts divorce can be painful for everyone involved. Getting past the heartache and the hurt as a parent means moving forward with co-parenting skills that will do more good than harm. It's not the easiest task, but it can be done, with or without the guidance of a professional counselor.

How long does a Massachusetts parent pay child support?

Many non-custodial parents may contribute to an education fund for their children, voluntarily or as part of a divorce agreement. It's important for Massachusetts divorced parents to track these savings carefully. College tuition and child support payments can cross paths when a child reaches legal adulthood.

Many non-custodial parents assume child support ends when a minor child turns 18. Massachusetts laws allow child support to continue beyond 18, under certain circumstances. Support may be ordered until the child completes high school, if graduation falls at or after age 18.

Considerations while negotiating Massachusetts alimony terms

Some Nassachusetts residents can remember the days when a husband was the primary and only wage earner in families. Alimony was created to help divorcing couples cope with the financial disparity between a paid working spouse and an unpaid working-at-home spouse. Some couples still maintain this lifestyle, but an increasing number of families are supported by dual incomes.

Today's spousal support issues still surround financial imbalances. The amount and length of time alimony is paid has changed considerably over time. Individual wages can be disproportionate, even when both spouses work, giving the financial advantage to the wealthier spouse.

Holiday challenges for divorced parents

Holidays can be filled with memories, joy and laughter. Those are the same reasons individuals feel overwhelmed by the holidays after a separation or divorce. The expectations can seem enormous, particularly when you have children.

You aren't alone, if you're a Boston parent experiencing a less-than-merry holiday. For you and your children, nothing can be the same as it once was. Getting through this difficult time means acknowledging the holiday will be different and making the most of the opportunities you have.

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