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Worcester Family Law Blog

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.

Prioritizing children during a divorce

The divorce process can be stressful for children and negatively affect their emotional, mental and even physical health. Massachusetts residents who are divorced or in the process of getting divorced should always make sure that their children are their first consideration when making decisions regarding divorce issues.

Although it may seem natural to harbor feelings of distrust towards an ex-spouse or soon-to-be ex-spouse, it is important that divorcing parents work to assume that the other party has the best intentions in mind when it comes to the children. The assumption of good intentions is able to produce more favorable long-term results and can keep stress at healthy levels.

After the holidays, couples think about divorce

When making New Year's resolutions, some Massachusetts residents plan for big changes. Many changes involve family law matters, as a large increase in divorce filings typically occurs after the winter holidays. The president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers reports a 25 to 30 percent rise every January.

Some couples might hit their breaking points when everyone is gathered together for the holidays as partners have to spend more time in close quarters while possibly pretending that everything is fine in order to not disrupt family celebrations. Though tensions can mount during the holidays, one should not be too hasty when the new year comes. Deciding to separate or divorce should be considered carefully, and people should avoid making a decision like this when angry.

How to draw on a former spouse's Social Security benefits

Some divorced people in Massachusetts might be able to draw Social Security based on their ex-spouse's benefits. This may be possible if the two were married for at least 10 years and the person who wishes to draw on their spouse's income would get less if they used their own Social Security benefits. Doing so does not reduce the benefits that the other person will receive. A person can draw up to half of their former spouse's benefits, but if they remarry, they will no longer be eligible unless that marriage ends in divorce, death or an annulment.

This could be an alternative for a person who has never worked outside the home or who only did so for a few years. People must accumulate a work history that is the equivalent of at least 10 years before they can begin to draw on Social Security benefits.

When a divorced parent moves away

Despite the best intentions of Massachusetts parents to remain in close proximity to one another for as long as their children are minors, there may be reasons one decides to move, including wanting to be nearer a new partner. However, even if the parent only moves a half hour away, this still represents a significant increase in commuting time for driving the child back and forth. If the relationship between the two parents is still contentious, the parent who has not moved might respond by simply refusing to keep driving the child.

However, when parents see this primarily as a conflict between them, they may forget the effect it can have on their child, who might get less time with the other parent. A better approach would be for the parents to work toward a compromise. A mediator may be able to help parents come to an agreement about how to handle the change.

The importance of enforcing child support payments

As the Federal Child Support Enforcement Program continues to improve, getting more money for more families within the system, the number of single-parent households involved with the program has dropped. In 2014, fewer than 50 percent of custodial parents who were eligible to have child support agreements had them in place. Many of these single parents in Massachusetts and throughout the country may have lower incomes than two-parent households, and this can have an impact on the quality of a child's life, according to reports.

When one parent receives child support, the child's life is enhanced in a number of ways. Parents who pay child support also tend to be more engaged with their children, so children whose parents are paying child support generally have a relationship with both parents.

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