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Worcester Family Law Blog

Prepare for divorce by organizing documents now

Massachusetts couples who have made the difficult decision to part ways may feel the road ahead seems daunting. Typically, the divorce process requires a certain amount of time, effort and stamina (and sometimes a great deal of all three), which can take a significant toll on the people involved -- emotionally, financially and even physically. People who are planning to get a divorce can help to reduce the impact on themselves and perhaps even achieve a positive outcome by taking steps to organize the necessary paperwork now.

First, people can create a checklist of the documents they may need, locate such documents and have them ready and accessible when needed. Here are a few examples of documents that may be needed once the divorce process begins: personal financial statements/balance sheets, property inventory (marital and non-marital), bank and investment account statements, real estate deeds, mortgage/loan documents, credit card statements, wills/trusts, insurance policies and possibly other important items. An individual may also include documents other than financial items, if applicable, such as pre-paid funeral arrangements, premarital agreements, etc.

Postnup provides financial parameters in the event of divorce

Most people, married or not, are familiar with the concept of a prenuptial agreement (or prenup). More and more couples in Massachusetts and elsewhere are choosing to prepare this type of legally-binding contract prior to their marriage in order to ensure a fair distribution of assets in the event the union ends in divorce. However, some couples may consider preparing a postnuptial (or postnup), a similar type of contract but one that is prepared during the marriage, often because of a change in circumstances that involves finance, such as buying into a business, starting a family or investing in real estate.

A prenup typically covers details regarding distribution of assets and liabilities in the event of divorce. However, the couple preparing it is trying to plan for hypothetical situations, which can present challenges as they must imagine possible future scenarios. On the other hand, when preparing a postnup, couples are usually aware of all the factors involved, allowing them to make better-informed decisions. For example, a spouse who starts a business during the marriage may not have covered that eventuality in a prenup, or perhaps did so but now wishes to alter details. In a postnup, the interests of both spouses can be protected by addressing matters such as the nontitled spouse's share of the business's value (if any), marital assets that may or may not be contributed as capital in the business and many others.

Driving allegedly texting causes fatal personal injury to cyclist

From the time texting became a commonly used method of communication, people have often heard warnings about the dangers of using a cellphone while operating a motor vehicle. Those who continue to do so not only risk the health and safety of themselves, passengers in their vehicle and other people on the road, but in most states, including Massachusetts, they are also breaking the law. Unfortunately, a recent incident resulted in the worst possible outcome when a woman who was allegedly texting while driving struck a family of cyclists, causing fatal personal injury to one of them.

The tragic incident happened in the afternoon when a 43-year-old woman driving her car collided with three cyclists. A 58-year-old man in the group was airlifted to a hospital, but sadly, he died the next morning. The other cyclists, the deceased victim's 60-year-old wife and their 19-year-old son, also suffered injuries in the crash.

Financial expert might make property division easier

The dissolution of a marriage in Massachusetts can no doubt take a toll on individuals both financially and emotionally. The financial aspect of the divorce process can especially be challenging to navigate for those who have a large amount of assets to distribute. However, a financial analyst may help to make the property division process more palatable from the start.

Some financial analysts have special expertise in helping clients who are going through divorce. These analysts, known as certified divorce financial analysts, may provide advice regarding which assets to keep versus which ones to give up during the asset division process. Likewise, a financial analyst may offer guidance regarding how to deal with the splitting of various debts.

The most difficult age for children to process divorce

Most children find dealing with changes very difficult. So, when couples in Massachusetts make the decision to divorce, telling their children must be done in a way that is not only age-appropriate, but which is in keeping with their best interests, including their emotional well-being. Children younger than three years of age may not understand what's happening, but older kids will recognize and understand the changes that are happening.

Psychologists say that children around the age of 10 or 11 seem to have the most difficulty after being told their parents are divorcing. By this age, a child can reason and usually understands what a divorce may mean in terms of a shifting family dynamic, especially since children of this age tend to be more egocentric. Although negative emotions associated with a divorce are common for children, parents need to be mindful when these start to pose a problem.

Essential employees facing child custody woes

Massachusetts parents may feel as if the past several weeks have been a whirlwind. Children that have parents that live separately may have had to adjust to a new schedule. Even families with court-ordered child custody schedules may have had to make some adjustments to accommodate school closings, varied employment hours, or illness. 

Nationwide, parents are being encouraged to work together for the sake of any children involved. Many parents are worried that children will be exposed to illness and have limited physical visitation, choosing to video chat instead to reduce the risk. A lot of parents are working from home or not working at all due to business closures, and since children are not at school, families are spending a lot of time in the home. 

Getting through a high conflict divorce situation

When couples get married, they stand next to each other with every intention that they will be together for the rest of their lives. So, when Massachusetts couples find themselves in the throes of divorce, there might be some emotions that are running at high speed and that could include anger and hurt. Those volatile emotions could cause what experts term a high conflict or malignant divorce.

Luckily, most couples who divorce do so without being too hostile toward each other. Most can iron out issues regarding child support, child custody, spousal support, the division of assets and so on, without emotionally damaging themselves or their children. Yet, there are some couples whose situations are so tenuous, that any negotiation is marked by failure and litigation is almost a certainty.

Managing the far-reaching impacts of 'gray divorce'

As of 2015, one in four people ending a marriage in the United States was 50 years old or above. Retirement-aged Americans may find themselves in a situation where a divorce is the best option for their future. In some cases, older couples in Massachusetts have an easier time parting ways, as children are already grown and shared wealth is enough to set both parties up for the future. In other cases, physical health, heavily intertwined finances and psychological impacts can make "gray divorce" a uniquely challenging path to walk.

In general, stressful events can have an impact on one's physical health. Those going through a divorce may experience heightened blood pressure and difficulty sleeping. Some may lean on vices, like returning to smoking after quitting, which could be bad for health. Psychologically, there is also a risk; while most people are about to weather the storm, experts warn that separation or divorce could trigger depression in 10 to 15% of people.

Navigating student debt in a divorce

Close to 45 million Americans have student loan debt, some of whom will go through a marital break-up before it is paid off. For Massachusetts individuals considering their debts and assets as part of a divorce, student debt can raise property division questions. Is the loan jointly held if it was taken out during the marriage? Can a spouse be held accountable for previous promises to help with the debt? The answers to these questions depend, in large part, on what state you are in and the type of loan involved.

Generally speaking, the person responsible for a student loan is the person named on the debt. The most straight-forward situation here is a person taking out a loan prior to their marriage. Loans that pre-date the marriage, where one party is clearly named, continue to be that person's responsibility.

Steps to take in the case of a workplace personal injury

When an individual gets hurt, legal options can depend on a variety of factors. The location and circumstances of the accident, as well as insurance policies in place, are chief among them. For example, when a Massachusetts worker gets a personal injury on the job, there are particular considerations and actions that should be taken from the workplace as well as the injured party. Here are some steps to consider after a workplace accident.

Managers should have protocols in place in advance so they clearly know what to do in the case of a workplace accident. There are clear rights and responsibilities in place designating what employers and employees are required to do. Knowing these regulations in advance is critical in order to do the right thing in the case of an accident.

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