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Bob Antonioni's 24th ride in the pan mass challenge

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Cancer does not rest. Cancer is relentless, showing no favorites. Wealthy or poor, male or female, young or old. It doesn't discriminate.

On August 5th and 6th, I will participate in the 38th annual Pan-Massachusetts Challenge (PMC*), cycling 192 miles from Sturbridge to Provincetown. This will be my 24th annual ride in support of the Jimmy Fund and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

This year I ride for a courageous father and daughter and their struggle with cancer. Please read the amazing story of Stephanie Corliss and her father, Joseph Corliss.

Who gets custody of your pets in a MA divorce?

If you and your spouse don't have children, that can make the divorce process less complex and faster for everyone involved. Unfortunately, just because you don't have human children doesn't mean there aren't dependent living beings you are both emotionally attached to.

Whether you've raised your dog together since it was a puppy or adopted a homeless shelter cat years ago, pets are often a point of contention during divorces. Both spouses may want to retain ownership of an animal, leading to fighting and disagreements that can cause a protracted divorce battle.

Co-parenting and nesting

Handling the business of parenting with an ex-spouse can be difficult, especially if the divorce was contentious. The children also may be affected emotionally and physically by the divorce. However, divorced parents in Massachusetts should know that their children may benefit from a relatively new form of co-parenting called nesting.

Courts have been leaning towards awarding joint physical custody, which entails having the children move between the homes of their parents. This helps to ensure that fathers are more involved in child rearing and that the children reap the psychological benefits of having meaningful interactions with both parents. However, frequent moving back and forth can sometimes be disruptive on the children's schedules.

Studies show joint custody beneficial for children

For parents in Massachusetts who divorce, shared parenting might be the solution that is best for the child. Several decades of both national and international studies support this view. "Shared parenting," or joint physical custody, is generally defined as children spending more than 35 percent of their time with each parent. This is in contrast to one parent, usually the mother, having primary physical custody and the child visiting the other parent, often the father, only occasionally. Increasingly, experts believe that this intermittent contact is damaging to the parent-child relationship.

This is a shift in attitudes from the 1970s, when fathers often saw little of their children after a divorce. Studies show that children who live with both parents rather than merely visiting one tend to do better in school and are healthier psychologically and socially. They are also less likely to smoke or abuse drugs and alcohol.

How parents can help children deal with divorce

For many Massachusetts children, seeing their parents end their marriage can be a difficult event, especially if they do not understand why their parents are no longer together. In some cases, the divorce could cause kids to deal with major stress. As such, there are some things that parents can do to help their children cope with the process.

First, parents should tell their children that they are getting a divorce. While this can be a difficult topic, it can be much more difficult for children if they do not have an understanding of the changes going on in their family. Parents should encourage their children to communicate, especially if the children have questions or need to talk about their feelings. The children should also be reassured that they did not cause the divorce.

How a husband's employment status affects divorce risk

The likelihood of divorce for some couples in Massachusetts may come down to the employment status of the husband according to a study that examined more than 6,300 married couples over 46 years. The study found that the divorce rate began to increase around 1975, but this was not wholly due to the fact that divorce became more acceptable or that more women entered the workforce.

In fact, how economically independent women were did not appear to factor into the likelihood of divorce at all. Household chores also did not tend to correlate with divorce rates. However, one factor that did was whether or not the husband was employed full time.

How to determine if divorce is the right choice

Many people ask a series of questions before getting married to determine if it is a worthwhile endeavor. However, those in Massachusetts who are thinking about a divorce may also want to think about certain things before deciding if one should be in their future. First, it may be a good idea to make sure that an individual has truly expressed his or her concerns about the relationship to his or her partner.

Research indicates that people only hear about 30 to 35 percent of what is said to them. Therefore, an individual's message may not have fully gotten through to his or her spouse. Both parties to a marriage may benefit from creating a list of things that they need to do to save the relationship. They should also list the things that their spouses should do in an effort to save the marriage.

Political disagreements leading to more breakups

According to a study and at least one divorce attorney, couples in Massachusetts and throughout the country may be experiencing more conflict over politics than in the past, with around 1 in 10 couples reporting that political disagreements had ended their relationship. Among millennials, the rate was even higher at 22 percent. The study, conducted by a Virginia-based polling firm, asked 1,000 people about the effects of politics and the Trump administration on their relationship.

One New-York based divorce attorney said she had seen a significant increase in couples fighting over politics since the presidential election. She reported that in 35 years of practice, she had never seen as many breakups over political differences.

How to handle false child abuse allegations

As awareness of child abuse in Massachusetts and elsewhere increases, more reports of possible abuse are being made. While this may be an effective way to protect children, not all reports are accurate or can be substantiated. In some cases, these claims are made by those going through a divorce who wish to influence the outcome of a child custody case.

One way to reduce the odds of being accused of child abuse is to have another adult present while with a child. This may be effective for scout troop leaders, coaches or those who work at a daycare facility. Those who can't be around other adults may want to call other adults as character witnesses if a claim goes to court. Parents may reduce the odds of facing a false claim of child abuse by acting in an appropriate manner around children.

Pre- or postnuptial agreements dealing with debt

Massachusetts is one of the states that allows postnuptial agreements, but a couple can also create a prenuptial agreement. If two people have different attitudes about money and debt and one tends to spend more than the other, a pre- or postnuptial agreement might protect one spouse from the other's debt in the event of a divorce.

Although a postnuptial agreement may face closer scrutiny because it can be easier for a person to be coerced into signing one, both types of documents must stand up to similar examinations. In addition to a lack of coercion, both people must have had adequate legal counsel. This means each person should have a separate attorney. If an agreement appears unfair, such as assigning to majority of debt to one spouse, there should be an explanation. An agreement may even include a provision that allows one spouse to carefully track the credit and spending of the other. This can be helpful if one spouse has a problem like a gambling addiction.

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