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Worcester Family Law Blog

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. 

What is an uncontested divorce?

You will probably have a lot of questions as you begin the process of your divorce. This is very normal and will be helpful as you go through your journey. One common question that people have regards the difference between an uncontested and a contested divorce and how this will affect their situation. Here is some helpful information about uncontested divorces in Massachusetts.

Divorce is simpler for some people than others. Some separating couples are on rather civil terms, they want to work things out together quickly, such as child support, with minimal arguments and they want to remain in control of assets. When couples can come to an agreement and find solutions for their children and assets without going through a lengthy litigation process, their divorce is known as “uncontested.” 

Can I go to jail for failing to pay child support?

Possibly. Massachusetts’s courts take failure to pay child support very seriously. As a result, you may face stiff penalties for not paying child support, including jail time.

If you do not make court-ordered child support payments, the other parent can ask a judge to hold you in contempt of court. The parent must file something called a complaint for contempt. Once the complaint is filed, you will get a summons with a hearing date. At the hearing, a judge will determine whether you complied with the child support order. 

Divorce and property division: Inheritance

When Massachusetts’s couples find themselves at the end of a marriage, one of the most debated subjects (besides child custody) is property division. Each partner likely feels they deserve the lion’s share of the assets for their contributions to the marriage. One asset that may come under some heat is that of inheritance.

To understand property division more fully, it is important to understand different forms of assets. Communal property is that which was acquired during the marriage. Separate property is that which was brought into the marriage by each partner. Communal property is typically subject to division, which separate is not. 

Massachusetts adopted children to have legal counsel

Contested private adoption cases in Massachusetts will frequently involve attorneys who represent the adoptive parents, particularly when child custody is at issue. But until recently, the adopted child did not necessarily have a recognized right to legal representation. That may be about to change, though, according to an order from the Chief Justice of the state's Family and Probate Court.

The order directs that private adoption cases -- at least those that are currently pending -- be reviewed to determine whether the legal rights of the children have been adequately protected.

Calculating child support payments in Massachusetts

Mothers and fathers are legally obligated to financially support their children, regardless of their status with the other parent. Massachusetts courts often assist parents with custody agreements and arranging child support payments. Child support helps to cover the cost of the everyday expenses of raising the child, such as healthcare and education, as well as the cost of living. Though most parents are required to make child support payments until their son or daughter reaches the age of 18, payments can be required through the child’s early 20s or even longer, depending on the situation.

Parents can come to an agreement on child support by using multiple routes. They might attend mediation where they decide amongst themselves who will be the primary custodial parent and who will make payments, for instance. The most common route is through the court, where a judge will determine an arrangement that focuses on the best interests of the child. 

Annulment vs. divorce: what you should know

An annulment is a declaration by the court that you are not legally married. It is different from a divorce because an annulment means that your marriage was not valid in the first place. Under Massachusetts law, there are only a few legal grounds for an annulment.

Keep in mind that even if your marriage is annulled, the court may still enter orders if you and your ex had children together. The court may, for example, order visitation or child support. 

Child support for children over the age of 18

A parent’s obligation to support his or her child usually ends when the child is emancipated. Under Massachusetts law, a child is considered to be legally emancipated when he or she turns 18. As a result, child support generally is intended for children under the age of 18. Of course, there are exceptions.

One exception is a child who is over the age of 18 and still in high school. A parent still has a legal obligation to pay child support for that child. Another exception is a child who is attending college. In Massachusetts, a judge can order a parent to pay for a child’s college expenses, even if the child is over the age of 18. 

More forms of cheating than physical or emotional

In Massachusetts, many couples find their relationships on the rocks due to some form of cheating. Whether one partner slept around or even sent lewd texts to another person, infidelity is considered grounds for divorce in this state. But there is a hidden form of cheating that is often looked over: financial. While it may not seem as serious, financial infidelity could ultimately lead to the end of a marriage.

One of the most blatant offenses is one partner hiding money from the other. This is different from having separate accounts. Marriages are all about sharing and trust, and hiding money crosses that line. In the same light, hiding debts from each other could also tear down whatever confidence has been built in the relationship.  

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