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Worcester Family Law Blog

How retirement accounts are divided in divorce

Retirement accounts are one type of property some Massachusetts couples may need to divide in a divorce. To divide retirement accounts, it is necessary to complete paperwork to ensure that tax penalties are not levied. For an individual retirement account, a transfer incident is necessary. For an employer-sponsored plan or a 401(k), a Qualified Domestic Relations Order must be prepared.

Individuals also may choose a distribution option. They can cash out, have the amount rolled over into their existing retirement accounts or take distributions when the person who owns the account reaches retirement. However, one thing to keep in mind is that the type of account affects taxes. A Roth IRA is funded after taxes are paid, but pre-tax contributions fund a traditional IRA, a 401(k) or a 401(b).

Older people divorcing in increasing numbers

Both people in Massachusetts and in the rest of the country have seen divorce rates for most age groups decline over the past decade. The opposite is true, however, for couples who are over the age of 50. Instead, older people have divorce rates that are actually increasing.

The phenomenon of older couples divorcing is called "gray divorce." Experts believe the divorce rate is increasing for this age group due to several factors. Couples who are older may be in their second marriages, which have been shown to be much likelier to end in divorce than first marriages.

Avoiding pitfalls that can lead to divorce

One of the leading causes of divorces in Massachusetts is arguments about finances. Studies have demonstrated that couples who argue with each other about money early on in their marriages are much more likely to later divorce.

A recent study showed that financial infidelity is much more common than previously thought. The study found that 6 percent of people have secret bank accounts that their spouses do not know about. It also found that 20 percent of survey respondents believe spending $500 without telling their spouses is fine. According to the Wall Street Journal, people engage in secret spending in several different ways. Some withdraw small amounts at the ATM, saving them up over time and then spending it. Others keep purchased gift cards to use for themselves in order to hide their spending. Still others may open credit cards about which their spouses don't know.

How to survive divorce court

It is no secret that going through a divorce is one of the most stressful tribulations that a person can experience in their lifetime. It might seem at times that it is not survivable, but it is important to remember that you can and will get through the divorce and be happier than ever before in the long run. Here are some tips for how you can survive divorce court.

Be sure that you are completely transparent with your attorney and other court authorities about any details that might concern you. This might include abuse that took place or the division of your assets. It is especially important to bring to light instances of abuse, neglect or destructive behavior when children are involved, since custody agreements and arrangements will be made. Keeping children safe is always very important, and being transparent will help to accomplish that goal.

A prenuptial agreement could protect you during a divorce

Many people who are living in Massachusetts are against prenuptial agreements in this modern day and age, but they can serve as your protection in the event that you divorce. Of course, you do not want to think about divorce just as you are getting married, but situations arise in which it is unavoidable all too often. Under these circumstances, you could lose the assets that you have worked hard to gain if you do not have a prenuptial agreement.

Traditionally, spouses share property equally. This stems from times when most people did not get divorced due to social stigmas and consequences. In the modern day, people are free to divorce as they need. Divorce is a very personal matter and it is often done to protect the individual or children in areas that range from emotional to physical well-being.

My ex is not paying child support, what do I do?

If you are expecting child support from a person who is ordered to pay support in the state of Massachusetts and that money does not come, you could be up against serious budget issues that leave you unable to provide your child with all of their needs. Child support payments are designed to help cover a bit of the financial burden of raising children. When you are a single parent, this becomes an important part of your family’s income. Delinquent child support payments are unlawful, and turning to legal authorities for child support enforcement could be necessary to get your children the money that they need.

When you bring your situation of delinquency to legal officials, a notice is sent to the individual who should be paying child support and is past due. This notice will inform the other parent of the total amount that they have accumulated, interest and any penalties that will take place if the amount is not paid.

Finding the right child custody agreement

Divorce is often very difficult for parents in Massachusetts, but it is especially tough on children who are faced with unfamiliar realities and big changes. They are often concerned about where they will live, moving to a new home, when they will get to see each parent and if they will be able to keep their things. Naturally, they have a lot of questions. To help the child cope with the high level of emotion and stress that come with divorce, it is important that parents set aside their differences and find the right custody solution for the children that they share.

There are many factors to consider when creating a good custody arrangement. It is not a “one-size-fits-all” issue; what works for one family might be disastrous for another. Though there is a lot of pressure in divorce to make choices quickly and pick the easy solution, it is important that parents take their time with this subject and really consider the needs of the children who are involved.

Massachusetts’s child custody and nontraditional families

Child custody laws in Massachusetts have some interesting aspects that many people may not be aware exist. These cases involve nontraditional families and include cases of adoption (or lack thereof), same-sex couples that bear children and de facto parenting issues.

In 2006, a case hit the courts of a woman who never formally adopted her same-sex partner’s child, but was found to be aware of how important it was to do so. Since the woman was not the child’s primary caregiver, she did not have any legal rights under the law to parenting time, visitation or child support as a de facto parent. This hammers home the importance of adoption in nontraditional families.

The rights of grandparents in Massachusetts

Divorce affects more than the two spouses that are going their separate ways, especially when children are involved. While Massachusetts parents are drawing up their custody and visitation arrangements and going through mediation or litigation to finalize orders, grandparents often have their own concerns about their grandchildren.

Many grandparents fear that divorce will harm their relationship with their grandchildren. Grandparents also fear for the wellbeing of their grandchildren if there are presumptions of abuse or neglect from one or both parents.

Who gets custody of embryos in a divorce?

As more and more people postpone having children, embryo freezing has been increasing in popularity. The process of freezing an embryo means that an egg is fertilized through in vitro fertilization by either a partner’s or a donor’s sperm. The embryo is then frozen until the woman or the couple is ready to be pregnant. Embryo freezing has raised complicated legal and moral dilemmas—many of which have not yet been addressed by the law. One question that has been raised is who gets custody of embryos in a divorce?

The issue of which spouse gets custody of an embryo is very complex; currently, there is no consensus on how to resolve this issue. Courts in various states have really been all over the map with the issue, if they have addressed it at all. 

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