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Worcester MA Family Law Blog

After divorce, individuals can get ex's Social Security benefits

Whether a couple divorces after two years or 20, determining what assets either party will be privy to years down the road may appear overwhelming at first. For instance, who gets what retirement benefits, and how much? Even Social Security benefits can be up in the air following a Massachusetts divorce.

It is possible to receive certain benefits that an ex-spouse earned during the course of the marriage. However, stipulations apply to some of those benefits, such as Social Security. In order to even claim Social Security benefits from an ex, the couple had to be married for 10 years before divorcing. Otherwise, an individual might have no claim whatsoever.

Thinking of taxes during divorce can help some save in the future

Tax season has already come and gone for 2014, but that doesn't mean that next year’s taxes should be ignored until the calendar rolls over. The status of a person’s marital status is based upon the previous year. If a Massachusetts couple was married on the last day of the year, then they file as married. If the divorce was finalized before then, each party will file as single. There are tax implications that may warrant careful attention to certain aspects of the divorce settlement.

For a divorcing couple that has children, they will undoubtedly have some sort of provision for child custody and support in their settlement. However, decisions concerning such shouldn't be made based on what an individual may believe will affect their taxes. In fact, neither the payment nor receipt of child support will affect a tax filing, as paying it can’t act as a deduction and receiving it isn't taxed.

The reasons and whys of seeking a modification of child support

Many parents may believe that, once an order for the financial well-being of minor children has been determined, the matter has been settled once and for all. However, it is possible to request a modification of child support if circumstances warrant. Parents in Massachusetts who are struggling to make their support payments or who believe that the ordered amount is not adequate may be interested in learning more.

Either parent can ask a judge to review the child support order as long as the petitioning parent can show proof of just cause for a re-consideration. If a parent can show that he or she has experienced a permanent change in financial circumstances, a judge may order a review of the situation. The burden of proof, though, is on the parent asking for the modification. For instance, if the parent who is making the payments has suffered a job change or loss and is now making substantially less per year, as long as the individual can show through documentation that the standing order is now a hardship, a judge may be inclined to review the proof.

Jennifer Lopez divorce finalized after several years

Massachusetts readers have likely heard about the divorce between the famous singers Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez. However, many people do not realize that the actual divorce process has taken several years and has only recently been finalized. Why do some divorces stretch out over several months and years? Many times, it is related to agreeing on details pertaining to money and child custody.

In this particular divorce, the two parties both have a large amount of money and have two children. Massachusetts parents of all income levels know how difficult it can be to make custody and visitation arrangements for something as important as the children. Through negotiations and working with their respective legal teams, both Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez have agreed to a custody arrangement. Neither parent will receive financial support.

Massachusetts parents may struggle with child custody issues

Divorce can bring up a lot of difficult subjects that can take time, compromise and the ability to communicate effectively to figure out. For divorcing parents in Massachusetts, one of the hardest parts of the divorce will be figuring out child custody issues. One child psychologist in particular would suggest that for those with very young children that overnight visits with Dad should be restricted until after age five. Obviously, this belief isn't sitting well with divorcing dads.

The reasoning behind this belief that young children should remain with their mother, especially at night, is simply that it is stated to be in the child's best interest. The psychologist strongly believes that forcing children to alternate their schedule isn't fair to the child. Father advocacy groups disagree.

How can you fight for your desired outcome during a divorce?

Massachusetts individuals already engaged in or considering a divorce may wonder if it is possible to fight for desired or deserved outcomes. Fortunately, there are steps that may help an individual to fight for certain things during a divorce. The legal process of dissolving a marriage can be complex and emotionally challenging. Consequently, individuals may be tempted to settle for a less-than-optimal divorce agreement for the sake of expediency.

The divorce laws in Massachusetts can be complex, but an individual can benefit by preparing oneself for a potentially long process. It is possible that a couple can benefit from mediation and quickly resolve issues regarding asset division and other contentious matters. It should be noted that mediation has the potential to be emotionally draining, especially when it takes longer than anticipated.

Woman files a paternity claim against Chris Paul of the NBA

A woman has filed a paternity claim against the famous NBA player Chris Paul. She claims that they had a relationship for a period of time, but that it ended after she learned that she was expecting a baby. Supposedly, the woman has had a private DNA test performed, confirming that Mr. Paul is the father, but the paternity claim requests that an official test be conducted.

Massachusetts readers may have seen that sources close to the situation claim that Mr. Paul has been paying for the woman's medical bills and other expenses related to the baby. It has also been said that the basketball star has not denied that he is the father. Unless either of these claims can be backed with evidence, they may not be applicable to the paternity case.

Massachusetts parents may want to consider family law mediation

Going through a divorce in Massachusetts is understandably difficult. There are a number of decisions to be made that include the ownership of and access to retirement accounts, vehicles and the house. However, when children are involved, child custody, visitation arrangements and child support are all considerations that must be taken into account. Massachusetts parents will want to ensure that they keep their children's best interests at heart when determining a solid parenting plan and may want to consider the benefits of family law mediation.

Although not all parents decide to use a mediator when determining a parenting plan, some will choose to do so. A mediator will help both parents set forth their expectations and create a parenting plan that takes into account those expectations. However, the parenting plan will primarily focus on the children who are involved and their best interests.

Massachusetts same-sex couples haven't affected divorce rate much

Setting the standard 10 years ago, the state of Massachusetts legalized same-sex unions. Many believed that it would alter traditional marriages. However, a decade later, not much has changed because divorce rates are about the same.

Since 2004, the divorce rate for Massachusetts couples -- straight and gay -- has remained steady. In 2004, there were just over two divorces per 1,000 people. The numbers stayed about the same until 2010, at which time the divorce rate increased from 2.2 to 2.5. The next year, the divorce rate increased from 2.5 to 2.7. This is the last year divorce rate numbers are available.

Custody and visitation may go smoother with a parent coordinator

Although most couples hope for a quick and easy divorce with little conflict, it doesn't always happen that way. When custody and visitation are issues in the divorce, it is almost always considered a high-conflict divorce in Massachusetts. As a general rule, a high-conflict custody case involves parents being unable to communicate properly, showing distrust and anger to their ex, making unnecessary threats or showing physical aggression.

For couples that are fighting and unable to deal with the emotional aspect of the divorce, it may be possible to obtain the help of a parenting coordinator. A parenting coordinator can often help parents see things in a different light so that they can focus specifically on what they need to do as a parent. The court also has the authority to step in and make this request when they see that a couple is having difficulty in determining what is best for their children.

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Robert A. Antonioni, Esq.
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