Middlesex County Family Law Blog

Financial preparations for divorce

When couples in Massachusetts decide to divorce, they need to take steps to protect their finances. Divorces can wreak havoc on the finances and credit of divorcing spouses. It may be a good idea for people who want to divorce to meet with a financial advisor and a family law attorney before filing so that they can better understand the financial impacts they might face and take steps to protect themselves.

With the help of a financial advisor, people who want to divorce should create a budget for life after divorce. They should figure out what their immediate costs will be after their divorces and plan for expenses such as moving into a new home, purchasing a different car, and paying for their daily living expenses on their own. They should also create financial management plans for their expenses, including the costs of their divorces, while their cases are pending.

Rules like “10/10” make military divorces workable

As military personnel or a military spouse, you know how different life is compared with civilian families and you know about rules and regulations. Just the idea of a “military divorce” might make you dizzy. Aside from the emotional strain, there must an impossible legal and regulatory maze navigate.

The good news, if you want to call it that, is that military service has been hard on marriages for thousands of years, so states and the federal government have learned their lessons. The laws enacted specifically to serve you and your family are complex, but their effect is to make this transition succeed as well and as simply as possible.

Creating a prenup when one party owns a business

A prenuptial agreement can help a Massachusetts couple outline how they will handle a business owned by one of them in case they divorce. One thing a prenup can do is establish the business's value at the time of the marriage. This information will allow the couple to determine how much the business has appreciated during the marriage if they get a divorce and divide its value based on that appreciation.

The couple may also want to decide what they will consider an acceptable method of determining the company's value if they get a divorce. The full process of business valuation can be costly, disruptive and time-consuming, but it can be avoided if they agree on another approach. Next, they should think about compensation. If the owner is drawing a salary that is less than market rates so the business will have more money, this means less money to put into savings or other joint property. This could affect how property is divided in divorce.

Children and life after divorce

Massachusetts parents need to be aware that the end of their marriage can be difficult for their children to handle. It is the responsibility of the parents to take the necessary steps to protect their children and ensure that they have a post-divorce environment in which they are able to thrive.

One way for them to protect their children after a divorce is to make sure that the children do not experience the anger one parent may have for another parent. Children should not be subject to statements about which parent wanted the divorce, who was unfaithful or who misbehaved. The parents should also do what is necessary for their children to realize that their parents' divorce was not their fault. The children should be reassured that there was nothing, on their part, that they could have done that would have prevented the divorce and nothing they can do to rectify it.

Cooperation and open communication to raise a child post-split

Massachusetts parents who are divorcing will have an additional aspect to negotiate: child support. While the ideal situation is one where the support amount is reached in an amicable environment, that is not always the case. However, there are many things parents can do to make the process a positive one.

Although divorce is an emotional endeavor, child support is not about the parents and their relationship but about what is best for the child and how to pay for it. It is always best to keep emotions under control and avoid speaking negatively about the process in order to have less impact on the children involved. As well, the amount of child support should be based on real costs of parenting, including any predicted unexpected expenses related to raising a child. Child support amounts should include things such as medical bills and medication, insurance costs, educational expenses, payments for hobbies and interests, child care expenses, cost of living adjustments and even tax implications.

Can a parent move a child out of Massachusetts?

Massachusetts law favors encouraging children’s relationships with both parents when possible. In divorce or child custody cases, courts often maintain that children do best with meaningful involvement in their lives from both parents.

However, when one parent wishes to move out of state with their child, the process to do so can become complicated and contested. As the parent wishing to move, you may seek a better job opportunity, a home closer to family or more. However, as the other parent, you may bitterly contest the possibility of your child moving far away.

Child support payments highest in Massachusetts

People in Massachusetts have the highest child support payments in the country, a figure that reflects the cost of living but also the state's laws. For divorced parents, child support calculations can be an important factor when considering relocation. Under federal law, each state can set its own guidelines for calculating child support. Even neighboring states can have substantially different support guidelines, with average payments differing by over $600 between Massachusetts and Vermont.

These calculations were carried out by Custody X Change, a group that assessed hypothetical payments for families with two kids in states across the country. While Northeastern states generally top the list, Massachusetts has the highest child support payments for several reasons. Vermont is a strong outlier in New England, while high payments in most states reflect the hefty cost of living in the area. There are a range of factors that can be included in the calculation, including other children outside the relationship, spousal support, health insurance, or remarriage.

The changing demographics of American divorce

While many in Massachusetts know that many marriages end in divorce, they may not realize that the divorce rate for most Americans is actually falling. In the decade between 2008 and 2018, the divorce rate declined by 18%. The decline in the rate came even as a larger number of people see divorce as socially acceptable or a positive choice when couples do not enjoy a positive relationship. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 4.7 of every 1,000 Americans were divorced in 1990, a number that fell to 2.9 by 2016.

There are a number of reasons for the declining popularity of divorce. The divorce rate has gone down particularly among younger adults under the age of 45. A growing number of young people wait until later in life to marry, after they have already established their careers and other aspects of their lives. They take a longer time to select their partners and often choose people with similar approaches to work, education and finances, all factors that point to increased marital longevity.

Student loan debts source of marital stress and divorce

As the home of many colleges and universities, Massachusetts clearly promotes education as a worthy goal. Financing an education with loans, however, increasingly burdens people and adds to financial stress within their marriages. Money problems have long been known to lead to divorce, but the prevalence of student loans has emerged as a specific type of financial hardship that erodes long-term relationships.

A study sponsored by Student Loan Hero concluded that one-third of student loan borrowers in marriages ended up in divorce because of financial disagreements. Among them, 1 in 8 cited student loans specifically as the source of anger. Student debt balances carried by people have gone up 62% over the previous 10 years. The average balance totals over $34,000. The number of people owing more than $50,000 for their educations has tripled as well.

How to handle insurance in a divorce

Some Massachusetts residents who are getting a divorce may need to find a new health insurance plan if they are covered on a spouse's employer-sponsored policy. COBRA is one option that can extend the coverage for up to three years, but it can also be expensive since the person will have to start paying the employer's share. It is also not a long-term solution.

Life insurance might be the other important plan to have in a divorce. One spouse might be required to pay alimony to the other spouse. If the payer dies, this could cause significant hardship for the recipient. A life insurance policy on the payer could help out in this regard. The recipient could purchase the policy and pay the premiums to ensure it does not lapse.

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