Divorce, Custody, and Child Protection in Massachusetts

Massachusetts General Law (MGL) 208 covers divorce. This chapter of the laws of the Commonwealth describe everything from the definition of divorce to alimony, child support, and custody issues. Section 31A pertains to visitation and custody in the best interest of a child and covers abuse of parent or child. The best interest of the child is the primary determining factor in awarding custody. An abusive parent may not be awarded sole custody, shared legal custody, or shared physical custody. Custody arrangements must be in the best interest of the child. If one of the parents in a divorce or custody dispute has a history of being an abusive parent, then the court may deny custody or visitation or place restrictions. 
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Dealing with False Allegations During Child Custody & Divorce

It seems like everyone knows a story about false allegations during child custody and divorce. One spouse points the finger at the other and receives a restraining order from the court. The wife or husband recognizes that doing this will, almost by default, give them custody of the children and exclusive use of the family home. The accused parent then must defend themselves in court and prove these allegations false. While false accusations are a legal mess, it is also terrible to have someone who you once shared a life make claims of either abuse or neglect. It is something no one is ever really prepared for. You may feel you should reach out to your soon to be ex-spouse, but this can actually make things worse for you. Additionally, trying to make contact could be used against you. It is not unheard of for there to be accusations of
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Prenups

You and your fiancé would be wise to consider a prenuptial agreement, or “prenup” as it has come to be known. In fact, most, if not all, couples would benefit from a prenuptial agreement. Objections to getting a prenuptial agreement usually come in one of two categories. The first kind asserts that there is no pressing need for the contract: “We don’t have anything financial worth fighting over.” The second appeals to sentiment: “It ruins the romance to talk about money” or, even more wishful, “We’re sure we won’t get divorced.” While no one goes into a marriage planning to get divorced, even the most optimistic couple should acknowledge that divorce is a possibility. While the statistics vary, a good number of American marriages will end in their dissolution by divorce. The wise bride and groom will have to address this possibility on their way into matrimony, rather than deal
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What Is Collaborative Law and How Does It Work?

Collaborative Law is a process by which the parties to a potential civil action, embark upon a civil and amicable negotiation, in the combined hope that it can be resolved without the intervention of the courts. In a civil action, Collaborative Law may be preferred because it has the potential to allow the parties to prevent harm to the reputation of one or the other, should the litigation make its way into the public forum, or perhaps to preserve the integrity of a business or professional relationship. In a divorce, Collaborative Law allows the possibility of a quiet, and cost effective, separation of assets, facilitated by a team of high caliber professionals. In either case, a Collaborative Law group is typically designed to accomplish the goal of achieving a resolution under terms agreeable and equitable to all parties involved. Each State has their own rules and regulations governing the practice
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What Is Child Support and how is it determined by the court?

Both parents are legally obligated to provide for their children. If the parents separate, this expectation is continued through the process of child support. At the dissolution of their relationship, typically one parent will retain primary custody of the child while the other receives parenting time. The understanding is that the child with custody, otherwise known as the custodial parent, will provide support through paying for the child’s daily care, while the other parent, the non-custodial parent, will continue support through monthly payments directed to the custodial parent. It is important to note that child support can and likely will be ordered against one parent even if the parents have joint custody. Calculating Child Support The calculation of child support is initiated through the family courts. If the parents are divorcing, the calculation and order of support will take place during the divorce proceedings. If the parents were never married
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How Are Child Custody and Visitation Established?

If you are going through a divorce and have children, child custody is arguably the most important matter you will have to deal with during the divorce proceedings. Although custody arrangements can be reviewed and modified until the child turns 18, it is very rare for custody to be changed from one parent to the other after the initial order has been established. This is why it is important to understand how custody and visitation (more often referred to as parenting time) will be determined. There are two types of custody, legal custody and physical custody. The parents may share both legal and physical custody, share legal custody but give one parent sole physical custody, or have one parent have sole primary and physical custody. As you will see below, even when one parent is granted sole custody, the other parent will still retain rights to the child. Legal Custody
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Understanding the Essentials of Annulment in Massachusetts

If you are unhappy with your marriage, you can obtain a divorce in Massachusetts for just about any reason. Regardless, there are those times when a marriage should not even be legally recognized. A divorce will end a marriage, but an annulment determines there never was a legal marriage from the start. Moreover, an annulment may have significance for religious or social purposes. If the marriage was not valid from the beginning, it is possible to receive an annulment. Do you qualify for an annulment? In Massachusetts, the marriage needs to be void or voidable. There is a popular belief that you can receive an annulment if the marriage was short. Unfortunately, this is not true. There are specific guidelines for granting an annulment, and the duration of the union is not a factor in Massachusetts. In fact, the requirements are so strict that many eventually choose a no-fault divorce,
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Divorce Modification in Massachusetts

Once a divorce is finalized, the documents are filed with the courts. However, life is unpredictable and circumstances can change over time. In Massachusetts, if an earlier court order or judgment no longer suits the parties because circumstances have changed in a significant way since the order or judgment was issued, the court can “modify” the prior order or judgment. Cases where a modification might be appropriate include those where the children are significantly older than at the time when the last child support order was issued, or where a person ordered to pay alimony has retired and now has a substantially smaller income than at the time he or she was ordered to pay alimony. Sometimes a party may want to change an order or judgment because there is a legitimate need to do so, and it would be unfair not to allow a change. For example, when there
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Massachusetts Cases Provides Guidance for Child Custody Issues in Same-Sex Divorces

Massachusetts was a leader in its early recognition of same-sex marriages. Logic dictates that the Commonwealth will also have more experience with same-sex divorce and family law matters, including child custody and support issues in cases involving the dissolution of a same-sex marriage. Three Massachusetts cases do, in fact, reflect that experience. In a 2006 same-sex divorce case (A.H. v M.P., 447 Mass. 828), one partner never adopted the child of her partner, although she was well aware of the importance of pursuing a formal adoption. Her former partner was the child’s primary caregiver. The court determined that she had no legal right to parenting time and had no support obligations as a “de facto” parent. The result in this case indicates how critical it is for one partner in a same-sex marriage to adopt the other partner’s biological child if the first partner desires to continue to have a
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What You Need to Know About Child Custody in Massachusetts

Divorce is described as one of the most stressful events in a person’s life. Add children to the mix, coupled with questions of custody, support, and visitation, and emotions and stress can reach a breaking point. Wading through this difficult time calls for the help of a professional such as a divorce & family law attorney who also understands laws specific to Massachusetts. Before you meet with an attorney, here are few pieces of information about child custody in Massachusetts that you’ll need to know in order to develop questions pertaining to your situation. Two primary forms of child custody in Massachusetts Physical custody determines where a child will live during certain periods of time. Legal custody determines which parent has authority to make major decisions as in the doctor the child sees, the school the child attends, and even in which faith to raise the child. Sole vs. shared
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