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Worcester Family Law Blog

Shared child custody proves beneficial

Divorce can be complicated, especially when a child is involved. If nothing else can be agreed upon between the separating couple, one thing should be settled: do what is best for the child. Traditionally, child custody was awarded to the mother full time, while the father shared part-time responsibility. However, many modern-day families, including those in Massachusetts, are choosing different custody options after divorce in order to bring more stability to the child.

Studies have shown that when divorced parents are equally active in their child's life, there are less behavioral and psychological problems developed at a young age. One family is taking the nontraditional approach to child custody. The family refers to their shared home with their two teenage children as "the nest" where the parents switch in and out of the home every two weeks. Therefore, the parents are able to share equal time and provide stability for their children.

Inaccuracies during property division can affect one's divorce

When sharing life with another for several decades, memories, possessions and property are collected with time. However, if a marriage comes to an early end, a majority of Massachusetts couples will need to consider property division in their divorce agreement. For Burt and Lucille Handelsman, their split came with a hefty price as their $550 million real estate business has gone under the knife in an attempt to divide it evenly and fairly.

Recently divorced, the elderly couple built their real estate empire together over the course of their 67-year marriage. Their beginning was at a humble kitchen table in New York as they invested in property and continued to build on their success. The business expanded to South Florida, establishing the family business in serving high-end clientele.

Child support enforcement may be necessary

As a family unit changes due to a divorce, child support may be considered if children are involved. In certain situations, meeting the financial demands of child support could be difficult. Unemployment, illness or injury can play a factor in missing payments. In other cases, a non-custodial parent may simply neglect the responsibility of financial support. If needed, garnishing the paying parent's wages can be a means of enforcement of a Massachusetts court-ordered child support arrangement.

Recently, an American man was arrested for evading child support payment for the last 20 years. He was detained in Canada, where he assumed a new identity to avoid the $560,000 debt he accrued over the last two decades. Initially, in 1989, he was ordered to support his four children with a $100 payment per month. After claiming medical disability and unemployment, his payment was adjusted to just $14 a month.

Tax change will affect spousal support

Divorce can be messy for any Massachusetts couple.  The splitting of property, child custody, spousal support, deciding who gets the dog, etc., are all areas that must be addressed during a divorce. Throw in a tax change after decades with the same tax law, and another wrench is thrown into the whole process. Under the new tax laws, alimony agreements may become tougher for couples seeking to divorce.

For the last 75 years, the Internal Revenue Code for alimony, more or less, has remained the same. The payer, typically the higher income earner in the household would receive a tax break for supporting the ex-spouse financially. In return, the recipient paid taxes on the money received. 

Tax issues post-divorce include assets, spousal support and more

As many Massachusetts residents discover, the process of ending a marriage may be temporary, but taxes are forever. Divorce brings with it many financial adjustments, and tax changes are not the least of these, with implications lasting long after a divorce is finalized. There are four main areas that divorcing or recently divorced individuals will want to consider, including filing status, dependent deductions, asset transfers and spousal support.

When it comes to post-divorce taxes, the first item on the agenda is determining filing status. If the divorce was finalized on or before Dec. 31 of the previous year, both individuals may file separately. Those who are only separated or in the midst of divorced proceedings but not yet legally divorced have two options. Divorcing couples can choose to file jointly one final time or to file as married filing separately.

Massachusetts divorce tips to benefit the entire family

The end of a marriage is no easy transition, even in cases when separation is clearly for the best. When kids are in the mix, divorce brings with it additional concerns as well, since factors like the ages of the children, personality, social-emotional development and more can all affect how kids process the change. However, are a few basic tips that can make the divorce process in Massachusetts easier for everyone involved.

Patient listening and understanding become crucial when kids are going through their parents' divorce, as many become emotional and may act out. Something that may help combat this is creating a stable, predictable environment as soon as possible in order to foster a sense of security. It's also wise for parents to consider counseling for everyone in the family, adults and children alike, as therapy can help provide support and address any significant behavioral issues that may arise.

Basic steps for Massachusetts child support modification

No matter how carefully Massachusetts residents try to prepare, sometimes unexpected life events can negatively affect the best-laid plans. Changes such as sudden injury or illness or job loss may, in turn, alter a family's income, which may then affect child support. In such cases, child support modification may be possible, but there are certain steps that must be followed, whether an individual is hoping to receive larger child support payments or lower the payments he or she is required to make.

When hoping to lower payment amounts, the most important aspect is to act quickly, as unpaid child support will still be due in arrears and cannot be discharged. As soon as circumstances change, it's best to begin taking action toward modification as early as possible. Individuals may want to discuss the change in circumstances with the co-parent. Often, reaching an agreement may prove difficult, but it's a good starting point.

Shared child custody benefits Massachusetts children of divorce

As many are already aware, having two loving, attentive and involved parents is the ideal situation for every child. Barring extreme circumstances such as abuse, this is why an increasing number of advocates across the nation are pushing for a presumption of equally shared child custody from the beginning unless a reason is shown why this should not be the case. Unfortunately, a number of states, Massachusetts included, still have some catching up to do.

The news isn't all bad for Massachusetts. When it comes to when and how children with divorced couples spend allocated time with each parent, the state was graded a C-plus in a ranking system by the National Parents Organization, so while there's room for improvement, it scored well above a number of other states who have no statutes yet in place for encouraging shared parenting. Massachusetts was also recognized for requiring all divorcing couples with children to attend a two-part parent-education program that aims to encourage a safe, calm and appropriate transition into divorce.

Avoid common divorce mistakes with savvy legal guidance

The end of a marriage is not something that most -- if any -- Massachusetts couples take lightly. Divorce, no matter how necessary and beneficial in the long run, inevitably brings stress and upsetting emotions. However, as many are aware, a divorce is often best for all parties involved, and with sound support and guidance, there are ways to avoid common mistakes and minimize the stress.

One of the most essential parts of any divorce is finding the right legal representation. Rather than looking for the cheapest option, it's critical to find an experienced attorney who is capable and knowledgeable. Trustworthy advice from other sources is almost equally important, as there is a wealth of confusing and misleading information available, and it can be difficult to know what advice, if any, is accurate and helpful.

SJC addresses Search and Seizure Law in connection with Human Trafficking Investigation.

In Commonwealth v. Barbosa, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court reversed the lower court's ruling on a Motion to Suppress holding that a room key to a hotel room being used for a human trafficking operation is immediately apparent as evidence of other criminality, when retrieved from a defendant's person in a search incident to arrest for assault and battery on a police officer during a human trafficking sting.

The Court determined that the officers had "ample evidence of the defendant's involvement in the separate criminal activity of human trafficking" to justify their inquiry about the hotel room key. The Court distinguishes these circumstances from those set forth in Commonwealth v. Blevines, in which a defendant was arrested for drinking in public, and officers subsequently used keys found on his person to locate and enter into a motor vehicle that contained evidence consistent with drug distribution. In Blevines, the Court held that there was no evidence of independent criminal activity to justify the use of the defendant's keys for investigatory purposes.

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