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Worcester Family Law Blog

Later life divorce keeps overall divorce rates steady

Summer is wedding season, but as Maryland couples are planning their nuptials, many others could be heading for divorce court. The divorce rate in the United States continues to hover around 50 percent, with older couples making up a large portion of that statistic.

The number of U.S. divorces hit a high in the 1980s, but in recent years it has dropped, according to government statistics. Despite that, sociologists predict a divorce rate of a little over 50 percent for current marriages. Younger people are staying married longer, making overall divorce rates lower than in the past. But the divorce rate for older couples is up. The divorce rate for people from 55 to 64 years of age doubled in the years between 1990 and 2012, and tripled for people over 65.

When prenups are unfair to one party

Massachusetts couples who plan on getting married might also want to consider a prenuptial agreement. This can be a valuable document that helps to protect the individual who comes into the marriage with more money and assets than the other one. However, it is important that the person with fewer assets and less money has some protection as well.

Too often, prenuptial agreements are drastically unfair to the party who enters the marriage with few or no assets. One example might be a spouse who is prohibited from ever receiving alimony regardless of their contributions to the marriage or family life. In one case, a prenuptial agreement was written in such a way that prevented the other spouse from accessing the other's assets even if the marriage ended naturally due to the death of the other spouse.

Divorce mediation assessment promotes co-parenting

The ending of a marriage between two parents often leaves them at odds over how to interact for the benefit of their children. Parents in Massachusetts often have difficulty keeping this focus at the forefront during divorce litigation. In cases where a failed relationship is the reason for the divorce, instead of allegations of child abuse or neglect, parents and children will benefit from honest assessment of failures as a prelude to the mediation process.

A family mediator and social psychologist explains that the divorce mediation assessment involves several questions that will bear strongly on the well-being of children. Questions tend to revolve around communication between the parents. For example, at the end of a marriage, parents need to ask themselves whether they expressed negative behavior or feelings in front of children and how the children reacted.

Differing state laws can influence divorce outcomes

While most states distinguish between marital and separate assets during a divorce, Massachusetts is one of the few states that generally does not make this distinction. This is just one of many state-specific issues to consider when faced with the end of a marriage. There is not a national standard for matters such as alimony, timing or property division, which means that peoplemust be aware of the rules and implications in their state as they consider filing for divorce.

Divorce litigation can range greatly in terms of timing. Some states impose significant periods of waiting before the finalization of the action. The start of the waiting period can also vary from state to state. In some locations, the start of this period is at the time a spouse moves out of the marital residence. In other cases, the period may initiate with the actual divorce filing.

Crowdfunding site offers divorce registry option

Massachusetts residents may be familiar with crowdfunding websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo that allow entrepreneurs and charities to raise much needed funds from the public. Sites such as these have been used to fund everything from college educations to foreign vacations, and divorcing couples can now take advantage of the crowdfunding phenomenon.

The costs can quickly mount during a divorce, and spouses with little in the way of savings sometimes find it difficult to cover their legal bills and other costs. A website that was set up to crowdfund honeymoons in 2006 added an option for divorcing couples in March 2016, and the site's operators say that more than 100 divorce registries were set up in the first two months that this option was available.

Financial priorities during a divorce

Massachusetts residents who are getting a divorce should plan ahead for the financial burden that will accompany it. In addition to legal fees and court costs, there are expenses such as moving into a new place and replacing all the things that were purchased during the marriage. In addition, a person may be required to pay child or spousal support.

One of the first things people who are facing the end of a marriage should do is take stock of their assets. This includes going over all financial accounts, getting passwords, photocopying documents and taking photos of possessions in the home. When considering attorneys, they should avoid someone who does not have family law experience even if the attorney is a friend or relative. They should also avoid an attorney who is overly aggressive or who tries to involve the children in the process.

Divorce rate increases among older couples

Massachusetts senior citizens may be interested to know that while the divorce rate is holding steady for most married couples, it is increasing in their age group. Married people at or over the age of 50 were twice as likely to get divorced in 2014 as they were in 1990.

One reason the divorce rate is holding for younger couples is, due to longer life expectancy, they're getting married later in life. They're not rushing into marriages, but taking their time to pick the right spouse. This longer life expectancy can work the exact opposite, however, as older people in an unhappy marriage may not want to continue living that way. On the other hand, they may not want to ditch a relationship they have invested so many years in.

How parents can facilitate custody decisions

The custodial rights of a divorcing Massachusetts parent will be decided by the court unless an agreement can otherwise be reached. The actions each party takes at the outset could have a significant impact on the decision-making process. The most important aspect of protecting the child's well-being is for both parties to remain as civil as possible and the children to be left out of disputes between parents. Factoring child welfare into every decision from the beginning is the key to making the divorce as stress-free as possible for the entire family.

One of the most common decisions that can negatively affect a parent's custodial rights is to move out of the home. Even if it is difficult to live with the other spouse, it is important to facilitate a time-sharing arrangement that allows both parents equal involvement in the child's life. A divorcing parent should also make sure that the other parent does not take the child out of state, which could complicate the divorce proceedings.

Staying together or seeking a divorce

Many myths about the divorce rate make Massachusetts couples who are having problems feel like it is easier to give up as so many unions seemingly fail. One may want to instead look at the specific reasons that the marriage is failing, as sometimes things can be worked out.

After a divorce, people may face unexpected challenges with finances or health issues. Their standard of living might change dramatically, as they can no longer benefit from two incomes while contentious divorces can be costly and deplete savings. Emotional burdens might also come with financial and other issues, and this could result in higher stress levels. If people cannot support themselves alone, staying in the marriage may be a better option.

Summer vacation plans and divorced parents

In the spring, divorced parents in Massachusetts should start thinking ahead to their summer plans. There may be a number of changes in children's schedules with more and different activities in comparison to the regular school year. Writing specific summer vacation plans into the parenting plan can help prevent conflict.

Making an effort to stick to agreed-upon visitation times is important for a child's well-being. If conflict does arise, parents should keep in mind that legally, child support cannot be withheld over visitation or custody issues. Mediation may be one way to come to an agreement. However, parents might have to go back to court, and if the situation becomes particularly difficult, it is possible to file a police report for visitation interference if necessary.

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