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Worcester Family Law Blog

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.

Obama's child support rule allowed to stand

While incarcerated parents in Massachusetts jails or prisons are able to ask for a modification in child support based on a change in circumstances, this is not the case for parents in some other states. On Jan. 19, Barack Obama signed a rule requiring states to allow parents to ask for this modification. So far, the Trump administration has allowed the rule to stand although it is not known whether this will last. The rule was opposed in a bill introduced by House Speaker Paul Ryan, but the bill did not make it out of committee.

Many parents who are in prison have little to no income and do not have the assets to continue paying child support while incarcerated. Parents in states that counted child support as voluntary unemployment were not permitted to request a modification. The result would often be that the parent racked up child support debts. On release from prison, a parent who was unable to pay back the debt could be returned to prison. This created a cycle of incarceration.

Basic housing options in a divorce

Divorcing couples who are hoping to avoid making any costly mistakes during the process may want to know more about the housing options that may be available to them. When their principal residence is in Massachusetts, it could prove beneficial to consider the financial ramifications that are involved in the disposition of the house before arriving at any final decision.

Whether either party desires to continue living in the house following the divorce is a primary consideration. Although the emotional components of this choice are important, the financial implications of a decision to retain possession of the marital home could have far-reaching effects on the parties moving forward. Before deciding whether to stay or to go, each spouse may need to consider whether the new budget will support retention of the the principal residence, whether refinancing is possible and how much house can be purchased in the event that making a fresh start somewhere else is the preferred option.

Understanding issues with back child support

In Massachusetts, child support obligations do not disappear when one fails to make payments. This is true for support debts even after the child becomes an adult.

The cutoff age for child support payments can vary from state to state. Payments may be required until the child is 18, 19 or even 21 years old in some states. The payments may also be ordered to stop if a child becomes emancipated. However, the general policy is that child support payments are required until the balance that is in arrears, or the delinquent payments, has been paid in full, no matter how old the child is.

About child custody exchanges

Massachusetts parents who are facing the end of their marriage should know that child custody issues can be some the most divisive ones that can arise. While these negotiations can be especially contentious, arriving at an agreement is essential to being able to resolve a divorce.

A majority of child custody arrangements provide custody and visitation schedules that detail when, where and how an exchange will occur. The actual exchange or swapping of the children takes place every time they are transferred from the physical custody of one parent to another. Visitation orders are based on the belief that both parents have the right to spend time with their children. Disagreementsover the non-payment of child support or other issues do not negate these rights.

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