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Worcester Family Law Blog

Emancipation before the age of 18 and child support

A Massachusetts parent who pays child support and whose child has become emancipated might not have to continue with that obligation. Generally, children are considered emancipated when they reach the age of 18. However, there are other circumstances in which a child may become emancipated before this point.

A child who gets married is usually considered to be emancipated. The same is true if the child joins the military, becomes economically independent or abandons the family home.

Change coming to employer child support enforcement forms

If Massachusetts noncustodial parents fall behind on their child support olbigations, their wages might be garnished. The Office of Child Support Enforcement is now updating its forms for employers in relation to this.

The income withholding form expires on July 31, 2017, so it must be renewed before then. Some revisions may occur to text. For example, there may be clarifications about the Consumer Credit Protection Act and the One-Time Order/Notice for Lump Sum Payments. There may also be additional text, links and fields, but the withholding form might be shortened overall.

How a disability can impact child support payments

If a parent in Massachusetts or anywhere else in America is required to pay child support, that obligation generally won't end should he or she become disabled. However, it may be difficult for a disabled individual to continue working, which may affect whether a parent with custody continues to receive support from his or her child's noncustodial mother or father.

In some circumstances, an individual may receive a portion of his or her salary from an employer if he or she got hurt at work. It is important to point out that these payments are often less than a person's regular salary. When this is the case, it may be grounds for the individual to seek a child support modification since the mandated payment amounts are based partially on a parent's income.

What happens if a child's custodial parent dies

Massachusetts parents who are divorced might wonder who would get custody of the child if the custodial parent died. Generally, the noncustodial parent will get custody although if that parent is the father, it is necessary for paternity to have been established. This means that either the father has signed a formal acknowledgement of paternity or his name is on the birth certificate. If this is not the case, then the father will need to follow state law in establishing paternity in order to get custody.

Other people who might get custody of a child after the custodial parent's death include grandparents or other relatives. Ideally, if a parent is not available, a close family member may take the child in. Otherwise, the child becomes a ward of the state and enters the foster system. If the child goes to a foster home, relatives might need to establish their visitation rights.

Reasons child support may be modified

Children in Massachusetts and elsewhere in America are generally entitled to receive support until they reach the age of majority. When parents separate or divorce, a court may mandate support payments even if neither party requested them. However, if a parent does initially request child support, he or she may wish to stop the payments in the future.

There are several circumstances which may cause a parent to stop wanting to receive child support payments. In one such scenario, the parents may decide to get back together. When this happens, there is no reason for the child support to continue, and the parent who requested it will need to go to court and request that it is terminated.

Putting children first in divorces

Divorces are difficult for most people in Massachusetts who go through them, including children. When parents decide to divorce, it is important that they keep their children's needs and emotional well-being at the forefront so that they may be better able to adjust.

One of the first considerations for parents who have decided to divorce is when to file their petitions. While filing during the school year might make it more convenient to meet attorneys and handle other associated tasks, waiting until school lets out might allow the children more time to emotionally adjust to the changes. No matter when the divorces are filed, parents should make a vested effort to get along with each other as amicably as possible.

Divorce rates for older adults

Divorce is becoming more common for individuals in Massachusetts and around the country who are 50 or older. According to the National Center for Health Statistics and the United States Census Bureau, the 2015 divorce rate for individuals in that age group was 10 per every 1,000 married persons, an increase from five per every 1,000 in 1990.

The rise in the divorce rate is partly attributed to the fact that baby boomers make up a majority of the age group. Baby boomers had extremely high levels of divorce during their young adult years. The instability in marriage that occurred earlier in their lives is contributing to the increasing divorce rate for adults who are 50 years old or older today as remarriages are generally less stable than first marriages.

Delinquent child support and father involvement

There are millions of fathers in Massachusetts and the rest of the country who do not reside in the same household as their children. The findings of a new study show that individuals who owe child support tend to have children with multiple partners, see their kids less often and work fewer weeks in the year.

Based on information from a 2017 report to Congress, a total of $32.4 billion was paid by parents in the United States during the 2015 fiscal year. The payments, which were paid through the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement, went to pay for the raising and caring of their children.

Admitting legal paternity

For children who are born outside of marriage, men in Massachusetts and the rest of the nation are more willing to admit to fatherhood if the mother is educated, wealthy and in good health. According to a researcher from the University of Oklahoma, it also helps if the baby is male.

In the United States, the establishment of legal paternity is emphasized at the birth of the baby. Usually, a husband is indicated as the father of his wife's baby on the birth certificate. However, two out of every five babies born in the United States are born to unwed mothers. Establishing legal paternity in these cases require that the man is confirmed as the father and that he completes an Acknowledgment of Paternity form. This provides a guarantee of parental rights to the father and is useful in states' efforts to collect child support.

How a trust might be designated shared marital property

An individual in Massachusetts who is getting a divorce might wonder what their spouse's rights are regarding an inheritance. In general, a person's inheritance is considered separate property if they keep it separate from joint accounts. However, a third party trust might be considered marital property.

One way around this is for asset holders who are creating the trust to clearly state that the funds in the trust should not be considered for alimony purposes or as marital property. It is also necessary that the beneficiary of the trust should not use the assets for shared purposes since that could negate those clauses.

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