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Westborough Family Law Blog

What are the Major Changes to the 2017 Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines?

Every four years, the Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines are reviewed, updated and amended. On September 15, 2017, the new Child Support Guidelines will take effect. While many provisions of the current guidelines will remain the same, there are several major changes that may have a significant impact on parties who already have a support order. These include changes to the minimum presumptive order, the calculation of support for children between 18 and 23 years of age, the payment of child care and health insurance costs, the removal of a calculation for parenting plans that are not 50/50 or one-third/ two-thirds, and the addition of a maximum parental contribution to college expenses. 

Setting new financial goals can help during property division

Naturally, those who go down the aisle do not expect to become ex-spouses years down the road. However, the reality is that marriages do not always last -- in many cases, due to irreconcilable differences. A couple of tips can help with navigating a divorce proceeding involving matters such as property division in Massachusetts.

First, establishing new financial goals is paramount. For this reason, writing down one's new financial goals may be helpful. Having clearly spelled-out goals help with making forward-thinking decisions when trying to reach a resolution with a future ex-spouse regarding the distribution of property. However, it will also increases one's chances of staying committed to these objectives in the long run.

High asset millennial couples may benefit from signing a prenup

Many Massachusetts couples decide to sign prenuptial agreements before getting married in order to protect their assets in the event of a divorce. Property division is often the most complex part of a divorce and having an agreement in place ahead of time can make things much easier. Even "millennials," who are waiting longer to get married than other generations, are playing it safe when it comes to their finances. Many of these young people have built businesses and purchased properties and want to make sure they will hold on to those things even if their marriages end.

A 2016 survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers finds that 62 percent of divorce lawyers in their trade organization saw an increase in prenups over the past few years. Over half of these attorneys noticed that more millennials were seeking these agreements.

Protect yourself financially during your divorce

The divorce process in Massachusetts can be costly, especially if you and your spouse end up in a long, drawn-out court battle over property division, child custody and alimony issues. Even well-off couples may find themselves facing financial difficulties after getting divorced. However, there are ways to protect your finances and make sure that you have enough to live independently once you and your spouse have officially gone your separate ways.

First, you and your attorney should determine what is most important to you after the divorce. For example, many people become attached to their family home and want to stay in it post-divorce. Assuming it is feasible for you to keep up with the payments on the house, you may then decide to give in on smaller property matters and focus your energy on staying in your home. Be willing to negotiate with your soon-to-be ex-spouse and stay focused on the things you want the most. You should also make sure that you collect as much evidence as possible regarding your case. Do not attempt to cover anything up, as it is likely that you will get caught thanks to technology.

Custody options for separating parents in Westborough

For couples with children, the hardest part of breaking up is determining who the children should live with and how to share the child care responsibilities. There are two main types of child custody: legal custody and physical custody.

Legal custody pertains to major decisions regarding the children, which are usually decisions involving the education, medical care, residence or religion of the children. In most circumstances where the parties have previously made any such major decisions jointly and have the ability to effectively communicate about their children, they will be granted shared legal custody. In other words, neither party will be able to make a major decision regarding the children without the other parent's consent or a court order.

Physical custody addresses where the children are going to live. Joint physical custody is preferred in cases where the parents are capable of getting along, are willing to share equal financial and caregiving responsibility of the children, and have historically done so. However, this type of shared parenting is not possible in every case, as it may not be what is in the children's best interests.  It is important to minimize disruption to the routine and schedule that the children have become accustomed to, and to consider who has been the children's primary caregiving parent.

If joint custody is not best for the children, then one parent will be awarded primary physical custody, subject to a parenting plan that gives the other party parenting time with the children. There is no "right" or "wrong" parenting plan, and parties can and should work together to craft a schedule that is best for their family. 

Filing for divorce in Massachusetts

Getting a divorce can be difficult, particularly if you have a number of assets to divide between you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse. Having a basic understanding of the divorce process in Massachusetts is essential to make sure your divorce goes as smoothly and quickly as possible.

In Massachusetts, a divorce can be classified as "fault" or "no-fault." Generally, a fault divorce blames one spouse for the end of the marriage, whereas a no-fault divorce does not put the blame on either spouse.

Divorce: can you invalidate a prenuptial agreement?

Like most people, you probably assumed that signing a prenuptial agreement permanently removed access to certain assets in the case of divorce. However, this may not be the case.

A number of factors can invalidate a prenuptial agreement. If you are able to prove that the agreement is invalid, you may be able to gain access to some of the assets that you previously signed away. What are some of the most common reasons that a prenuptial agreement is invalid?

Collaborative divorce may be your best option

When many people think of divorce, they picture a couple battling in court over everything from the family home to the family pet. Divorce litigation can be a long, grueling process and take an emotional and financial toll on families. However, not every divorce has to be this way. In fact, many Massachusetts couples find a way to end their marriage outside of the courtroom.

Collaborative divorce allows you to meet with financial planners, therapists and appraisers to resolve disputes that may arise in your divorce. The collaborative process is typically more efficient and allows both parties to have an equal voice.

"Gray" divorce can make retirement more difficult

According to numerous studies, older adults are getting divorced more than ever before. Many older couples find that once their children are grown up and out of the house, they no longer have anything in common. While divorce may seem like the easy answer, it can make your retirement more difficult.

When you have shared your finances with someone for so many years, it can be hard to strike out on your own, particularly later in life. In addition to learning how to survive on half the income, it can be difficult to divide up the assets. Older adult couples may have 401(k)s, individual retirement accounts, pensions and other assets to deal with during a divorce. An attorney who specializes in financial matters of a divorce can help determine what needs to be done to make proper transfers. For example, if you plan on dividing a non-IRA retirement plan, you will need a Qualified Domestic Relations Order. Otherwise, the amount you transfer to your spouse will qualify as taxable income to you.

What will happen to your property when you divorce?

Divorce affects people. It affects the individuals who engage in the legal process as well as their kids, friends, and extended family members. It imposes heavy burdens on the Massachusetts residents who must put their personal lives on paper and ask a court of law to dissolve the legal binds that tie them to their spouses.

People, though, own property, and property is a key component of negotiating a divorce. Property is not only the money that married people hold in bank accounts and the cars they have paid for but also the real property they own, the personal items they have acquired and the investments they have contributed to throughout the course of their lives.

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