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Worcester Family Law Blog

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.

Situations where child custody arrangements may be modified

There are a number of reasons why family law judges in Massachusetts and around the country may modify child custody arrangements. Judges award custody and visitation based on what they consider to be in the child's best interests, and they may revisit and revise these decisions when the situations of custodial or noncustodial parents have changed. Custodial parents may also lose primary physical custody when police notify the courts of incidents of domestic violence or reports from teachers or social workers suggest that children may be living in dangerous environments.

Child custody arrangements are sometimes modified when custodial parents plan to relocate. However, judges may decline to issue a modification order if they believe that doing so would be in the best interests of the child. When weighing these arguments, judges will consider the reason for the move and whether or not the distance involved would make agreed-upon visitation impractical. Judges will also expect parents to have tried to settle these matters amicably before involving the courts.

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.

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