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Contemplating a Massachusetts divorce? Top issues to consider

Every year, the month of January shows a noticeable spike in the number of couples who file for divorce. No matter how sure a resident of Massachusetts is that he or she is ready to divorce, this decision may be fraught with a number of concerns. Generally, though, the top three issues to concentrate on are spousal support, property division and child custody.

Also known as alimony or spousal maintenance, spousal support is financial support provided for the benefit of an ex-spouse. It is a separate matter from financial support for the benefit of a child, i.e. child support. When calculating spousal support, courts take into consideration factors such as each partner's income and ability to earn an income, as well as their standard of living and necessary expenses.

When determining property division, any debts incurred, property purchased or assets obtained from the date the marriage began to the separation date is considered. Generally, both marital debt and marital property are divided equally, regardless of which spouses' name may be on the title. While there are sometimes exceptions, such as an inheritance, this is a matter where a family law attorney would need to offer assistance and insight.

There are two types of child custody: physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody determines a schedule for the parenting time of each spouse with the child. It's generally encouraged for parents to be flexible and adjust parenting schedules for specific circumstances, holidays or special situations. However, if the parents cannot agree, a parenting schedule by court order could be created. Legal custody determines which parent makes legal decisions that affect the child's welfare, such as medical or educational decisions.

The calculation of child support will factor in how many nights the child spends with each parent, each parent's income, the cost of work-related childcare and other expenses. This, again, is an area where a family law attorney could offer counsel. If any residents of Massachusetts are considering divorce and need legal advice or representation, an experienced lawyer can make all the difference.

Source:, "Top 3 issues to address when deciding to divorce", Theresa Viera, Jan. 11, 2017

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