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Worcester Family Law Blog

Divorcing couples need to consider mortgage options

Couples who have decided to end their marriage may encounter many different issues that require negotiation: child support and custody, spousal support and division of assets. Many Massachusetts divorcing couples who own a family home together find a particular set of challenges in negotiating who will retain control of the property and then what options exist for that person regarding the mortgage, assuming he or she has decided to not sell the home. A mortgage expert provides valuable information for divorcing individuals in this position.

Some divorcing couples opt to retain the original joint mortgage. However, ex-spouses must fully trust each other for this option to work, as a payment default could lead to damaged credit for both parties. To avoid such a consequence, many people choose to refinance the mortgage in their name only.

Life and health insurance needs should be reviewed during divorce

Probably any divorcing Massachusetts couple will attest to the fact that once the decision to split has been made, everyone involved begins a process that is often lengthy, stressful and fraught with challenges. During this difficult period, with all the issues that must be considered, people sometimes overlook important areas that will change with the divorce, such as insurance coverage. Divorcing individuals should be sure to review all insurance policies and prepare for any changes that will happen with the change in their marital status.

Regarding health insurance, often one spouse carries an employer-sponsored health plan through work that also covers the other spouse. Under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), individuals can continue coverage they've received through their ex-spouse's employer insurance plan for up to three years. However, since this is a short-term solution, a divorcing person in this position is wise to explore other health insurance options if the individual does not have access to his or her own employer-sponsored insurance. The Affordable Care Act has opened up more affordable health insurance options for such situations.

How do courts determine child and spousal support obligations?

Couples who have decided to end their marriage face various important decisions in the upcoming months, depending on their life circumstances. However, for many people, child support and/or spousal support negotiations demand a significant portion of time during the divorce process. Laws regarding how courts determine each person's level of obligation vary from state to state, but divorcing Massachusetts individuals can benefit from knowing the following general guidelines.

Generally, when determining a person's support obligation, courts take into account any type of earned income, as well as any recurring passive income, such as dividends received from investments. Examples of earned income include salary, employment perks, performance bonuses and other types. In addition, courts will access the most recently filed tax return. However, if warranted, they may also look further to determine if other financial avenues exist beyond the tax return. Courts also have the right to impute income to one person for income calculation purposes if, for example, they determine that the person's current income is not reflective of their earning potential.

Pedestrian hit by bus suffers fatal personal injury

Many Massachusetts residents walk outside as a form of exercise, transportation or even sightseeing. Most of these people likely find walking is an inexpensive, healthy and safe way to get around. However, the latter quality does not always hold true. Pedestrians in areas where motorized vehicles also travel sometimes find walking to be unsafe, and occasionally accidents occur resulting in personal injury or even death. Such was the case in a recent situation in which a pedestrian lost her life.

The incident happened early on a recent Thursday morning in Chelsea. A 60-year-old local woman was out walking, reportedly with another pedestrian, when she was hit by an MBTA bus. Sadly, she did not survive the accident.

Emotional turmoil can be tricky during divorce

For many, having to end a marriage brings their dreams crashing down. It is not unusual for one party to want a divorce more than the other, and as a result, it is also not uncommon for at least one person to feel some emotional turmoil. However, letting these emotions play an important part in decision-making during legal proceedings is not wise.

Some Massachusetts residents may enter their divorce proceedings thinking that they will make their exes pay for the heartache they have caused. However, even if a spouse committed adultery, punitive damages play no role in divorce. This means that arguing that the other side caused more harm to the marriage will not necessarily result in one party obtaining a more beneficial outcome.

Child support can be a complex issue during divorce

Many divorced Massachusetts residents would agree that the process of dissolving a union is emotionally draining and sometimes complicated. However, separating couples who also have minor children together face some unique challenges. In addition to all other facets of divorce, they must also negotiate details around living arrangements, separate parenting time and financial support. Typically, one parent will be required to pay child support to the other so that both parents contribute to maintaining the child's standard of living.

Some divorcing couples may find a particular challenge when trying to determine each parent's share of the costs of raising their child. Although each state has its own guidelines around child support calculations, courts can deviate from them, if necessary. Parents going through the divorce process can benefit from knowing some of the considerations concerning child support. 

Being informed about spousal support can reduce stress in divorce

In the event of divorce, each party must make important decisions in various aspects of their lives: living arrangements, financial support, children, etc. Typically, if spousal support is to be determined, the divorcing couple will discuss it later in the proceedings, as the plan for division of property and other assets should be in place first. Massachusetts divorcing couples would be wise to know some points about spousal support, including how it is calculated and what can be done if the payor fails to follow through or either party's circumstances change.

When an imbalance of income exists between the two parties in a divorce, one party may be entitled to spousal support from the other in order to provide the non-wage-earning or low-wage-earning spouse with an ongoing income. Individual state laws will dictate the amount of support. The calculation is based on several factors, including length of the marriage, the recipient's need, the payor's ability to pay, the age and health of each party and the couple's previous lifestyle.

Elderly Massachusetts driver causes serious personal injury

Most people view a driver's licence as a ticket to freedom, independence and convenient travel, a perception which likely explains why many elderly drivers are so reluctant to hand over their keys. However, some Massachusetts older drivers no longer have the faculties required to safely operate a motor vehicle and should seriously consider the personal injury they may cause others if they continue driving. Unfortunately, such a warning may be too late for an elderly woman who seriously injured another woman in a parking lot.

The incident happened on a recent afternoon in a store parking lot when, according to police, an 80-year-old woman lost control of her vehicle. After leaving the store, a woman was putting her three children in the car when the elderly woman drove her vehicle into the mother, trapping her under the car. The driver also hit and damaged three parked cars.

To achieve a fair divorce, uncover any hidden assets

Most Massachusetts couples will likely agree that trust is one of the most important components of a healthy relationship. When two people decide to divorce, no matter the reason, in most cases, either prior to or during the divorce process, trust is eroded to some degree. When trust is depleted or absent, one party in a divorce may attempt to hide assets from the other. A financial expert offers advice for uncovering such hidden assets, since doing so will increase the likelihood that both parties will be treated fairly in the divorce.

Divorcing individuals who hide assets typically do so in one of the following ways: denying the asset exists, transferring the asset to a third party, claiming the asset was lost or creating false debt. The person investigating any of these events may encounter a challenge, but he or she can look for a paper trail to help. In the event the offending party has diligently covered his or her tracks, the investigating party can access past tax returns for important information that may raise a red flag.

What happens to the family business in the event of divorce?

Couples who have decided to part ways often face multiple challenges as they move through the process of dissolving their union. In addition to the emotional toll, each party must make potentially life-altering decisions about various aspects of their lives, including children, living arrangements, property division and finances. Massachusetts couples going through a divorce who own and operate a family business together face yet another area in which difficult decisions must be made.

A financial expert explains that divorcing individuals in this type of situation must decide their intended level of involvement in the business going forward and also how the business will be divided financially. Firstly, the a professional appraisal for the business will be needed. After that, there are several options regarding what to do with the business.

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