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Worcester Family Law Blog

Massachusetts woman suffers fatal personal injury when hit by SUV

For most people, each day begins with a regular routine, with the hope that it will continue smoothly. No one wants to think about the possibility that something unexpected, or even tragic, will happen, resulting in personal injury. Recently, however, one elderly Massachusetts woman experienced the worst possible tragedy while simply going about her day.

The 80-year-old had just left her apartment complex with her walker. She was likely on her way to buy her regular morning coffee when she bent down beside a white Infiniti SUV to retrieve something. Allegedly, the female driver then suddenly accelerated, running over the woman, and inflicting serious damage to her head and neck, resulting in death.

Military divorce is hard, but not impossible

Military life is already difficult enough as it is, and throwing a divorce into the mix can seriously complicate things. Those going through a military divorce usually have needs and worries that differ from other families in Massachusetts. If you or your spouse is in the military and you are ready to divorce, make sure you understand the challenges that may lay ahead. 

Property division can be complicated when you or your soon-to-be ex is a member of the U.S. armed forces. Figuring out how to properly address military retirement, pensions and benefits is not easy. You will probably need a COAP -- court order for acceptable processing -- to make sure that these and other benefits are issued correctly over time. 

Does divorce lower college attendance rates?

Massachusetts parents usually do not jump into the decision to end their marriages without first giving it some serious consideration. Parents frequently consider how divorce will not only affect themselves, but also their children. This type of careful thought is important to use during divorce, as staying on top of serious matters can help minimize any potential negative impacts. 

Researchers from an out-of-state university recently studied the link between divorce and college education. They examined data from the 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, which covered about 15 years worth of information on thousands of minor children as they moved out of school, on to work and into adulthood. The most recent information was gathered when the study participants were between the ages of 26 and 32. 

Child support covers more than just basic needs

Massachusetts parents understand that it costs quite a lot to raise a child. There are the basic necessities of life, such as food, shelter and clothing, but there are also the so-called extras to consider: school supplies, medical care, extracurricular activities and even entertainment costs. Contrary to popular belief, child support is supposed to help in covering all of these costs and not just the basics. 

Parents who pay child support sometimes insist that their payments go solely to their child's basic necessities. Not only is this unreasonable, it is also difficult to prove. How can the receiving parent indicate which portion of rent or the mortgage was used for the child's shelter, or how much of the monthly grocery cost went towards feeding them? Parents who have primary or sole custody are responsible for paying all of their child's necessary expenses, so their spending habits are not monitored by the courts. 

Upper middle class couples may fight more in property division

Being financially secure is a priority for most people in Massachusetts, but divorce can throw a wrench in even the best-laid plans. Worry over money and future financial stability can cause some individuals to panic and fight over seemingly unimportant issues during property division. According to one family law expert, one group is more likely to fight than others. 

According to the Schwab Center for Financial Research, having $1 million in money and assets generally makes a family comfortable in their finances. However, as most people know, splitting up this money during a divorce can leave both parties in less than ideal financial straits. Although most can quickly work their way back to a better place with money, upper middle class couples who have between $1 and $5 million are more likely to fight to keep what they have. 

Is the key to a better retirement hidden in property division?

Home ownership could be the key to a more secure retirement, studies say. Does this mean that Massachusetts women should retain the marital home regardless of their personal situations? Experts caution that this is not the case, and that each person should carefully consider what assets to keep during property division. 

Overall, women tend to struggle with their retirement finances more than men after divorce. This may be in part because the average woman's income drops by around a fifth during divorce, while the typical man will see his income go up by approximately 33 percent. Home ownership, though, could be the key to securing a better financial future. Divorced women who own homes tend to be better prepared for retirement than single women who were never married. 

Do I really need to establish paternity for child custody?

As an active and involved father, you need the legal protections of paternity. Without establishing paternity, you cannot exercise your parental rights or create a child custody agreement that would guarantee access to your child. This is important even if you are on good terms with your child's mother. 

Fathers in Massachusetts who maintain amicable relationships with the mother of their children -- either romantically or simply as friends -- often do not feel as if they need to bring paternity into the matter. After all, if their situation is working out, why bring the law into things? While your situation might be working okay for now, there are no protections should the relationship deteriorate or if your ex decides to move out of state with your child. 

Child support and agreement modification protect children

From purchasing school supplies to paying for extracurricular activities to simply putting food on the table, there's no getting around it -- raising kids in Massachusetts is expensive. It can be difficult enough to transition from two incomes to one, but throwing children in the mix complicates matters even more. Child support exists to make sure that you have the financial means to continue providing for your children, and any changes to you or your ex's income may require a modification.

If you are the primary custodian of your children, you should receive child support payments from the other parent. This is true even if you currently work and earn enough to pay all of your bills, as your children's other parent still has a legal responsibility to provide financial support. Your income will likely be considered when determining an appropriate amount. Other factors may include: 

  • Childcare costs 
  • Health insurance 
  • Dental and vision plans 

Bill could shift approach to child custody

Parents tend to be laser-focused on figuring out custody matters during divorce, and understandably so -- time spent with children is precious. Parents in Massachusetts may worry that their ex getting primary custody will not only limit their own parenting time, but will also not be in their child's best interests. A new Massachusetts bill aims to address this common child custody worry. 

The Massachusetts House of Representatives recently pushed through a bill that would make shared custody the norm rather than the exception. Current standards still focus on making one parent a primary custodian and giving the other visitation time. Opponents of this type of arrangement often point out that it makes the noncustodial parent more of a visitor and less of parental figure. 

Stay informed -- don't let financial surprises upset your divorce

Financial surprises are rarely good news. Rather than waking up and learning that they have won the lottery, most people are met with unexpected money issues that will have a negative impact on their daily lives. Unfortunately, divorce can bring about many of these unwelcome surprises if Massachusetts divorcees -- particularly women -- are not prepared.

A jewelry seller surveyed 1,785 women of various ages who were in three different stages of life. These included those who were getting ready to file for divorce, those who in the middle of the process and those who had already finalized their divorces. Of that group, 22 percent were over the age of 55, most of whom were divorced. These women described facing significant financial surprises that they felt unprepared to handle.

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