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Massachusetts considering new child custody rules

A proposed law about child custody is under consideration by the Massachusetts legislature. The bill would change the child custody guidelines to make the default rule a 50/50 split of time between the parents. Family courts across the country have been moving toward a concept of true joint custody in recent years, and this legislative proposal would take that one step further in the Bay State. 

Parents seeking child custody and fighting for more time with their kids recently rallied at a gathering in another state. The point of the rally was to encourage their state to join Massachusetts and several other jurisdictions as they work to make changes to the child custody laws. The change would allow a noncustodial parent to have more time with their kids, those for the change assert.

Child support is owned once ordered in Massachusetts

When a couple divorces in Massachusetts, it is often the case that they have children who are affected. In most cases, one of the parents is ordered to pay child support to the other. This money is intended to help the custodial parent pay for the expenses of raising a child.

Child support is a mandatory payment in Massachusetts and other states. In one recent case that may be of interest to readers, several people were arrested for working to help others avoid this responsibility. The scheme involved lottery winners in a nearby state.

Low and high asset divorce takes adjustment in Massachusetts

People who have been through the process in Massachusetts know that there are many changes that come with the dissolution of marriage. Divorce, whether a high asset divorce situation or one with people of more modest means, can take adjustment for all involved. These can be worked through, but sometimes it takes a little time.

For some who go through a high asset divorce in Massachusetts, the concerns that plague them during and after the process can involve money. For others, the emotions and feelings of loss can take center stage. In each case, there are ways to overcome the stress and turmoil of the ending of a marriage.

How to get your fair share of your husband's retirement assets

As a woman whose spouse makes a lot of money, you might be wondering what assets are subject to division during divorce. For example, what about all that money in his retirement plan? Will that be divided? How can you be sure he is being honest about all his retirement funds?

Generally speaking, his retirement assets earned during your marriage will be divided during divorce. Here is how it works and how you can make sure your husband is declaring all his retirement plans.

Prenup can deal with money management and property division

When it comes to Massachusetts couples who are engaged to be married, sharing information can play an important role. Some say what you don't know can't hurt you, but that may be best limited to past romances and not finances. Certain money-related discussions may ultimately lead to the protection of both parties in property division in the event of a subsequent divorce. This does not mean a divorce must be anticipated, but it is one of life's realities for many people.

Sharing debt details may be the place to start, and this is an opportunity to decide whether each party will be separately responsible for paying his or her debt, or will it be a shared responsibility. This may lead to conversations about whether to pool their money or keep it separate. There is no right or wrong approach, but it is an important decision to make before the marriage. Some couples prefer to set up a joint account for household expenses while keeping their individual, personal accounts for other funds. They might even choose to also have a joint savings account for emergencies or a vacation fund.

Property division: Twitter and Facebook threats to consider

Much has been said about how social networking can have an adverse impact on a divorce such as how Facebook posts can jeopardize a person's chances to get child custody. In some divorces in Massachusetts and elsewhere, social networking has even affected the property division process if posts on Facebook or Twitter revealed hidden assets. Divorcing couples are often advised to stay away from this revolutionary way to make sure everybody knows everything about them.

However, what some fail to recognize is the negative impact social networking can have on spouses during their marriage. In fact, studies have shown that the animosity that led to many divorces originated from one or both spouses' activities on Facebook and Twitter. Although surveys revealed that Facebook's impact was lower in couples who had been married for more than three years, excessive Twitter usage proved to hurt new and old relationships.

Steps to prevent losing your business in a high asset divorce

Any Massachusetts resident who has worked hard to build a successful business may be devastated if a spouse takes half of it in a divorce. For that reason, measures are typically taken to protect such an asset -- especially in a high asset divorce. Although not watertight, a prenuptial agreement could provide the necessary protection if one spouse owned the business before the marriage.

However, if the other spouse had a vital role in the organization or provided finance for it at some stage, the court may determine that the ex owns part of the business despite what the prenup states. For further protection of the company, it may help not to commingle business and personal expenses -- in fact, it might be best to prevent that spouse from providing finance or play any part in the business. Keep in mind though, that if the ex gave up a career to care for the kids and the home, he or she might still be entitled to a percentage of the company.

Child custody: Infants and toddlers need sleepovers with dads

Any divorced parent in Massachusetts will likely know how difficult it is to make sure all decisions are in the best interests of the child -- especially if the child is an infant or a toddler. When parents negotiate child custody and parenting time, it would only be natural for a mother to think it would not be in best interest of the child to have overnight visits with the father at such a young age. She might fear such visits might jeopardize the mother-child relationship.

However, a report of a new study by psychologists indicates that children of all ages benefit from having equal amounts of time and sleepovers at the homes of each parent. The lead author of the research says the study indicates that frequent overnights with the father improved the mother-child relationship rather than harm it. Furthermore, it was found that children who enjoyed high-quality relationships with both parents when they were babies carried those relationships through into adulthood.

Property division can determine post-divorce financial stability

Divorce can cause financial ruin if care is not taken. Massachusetts couples may not realize that a significant part of their net worth can be lost in a divorce, making it tough to run two households afterward. However, precautions can be taken to limit the financial impact. Careful consideration is necessary about what is accepted in the property division process.

It might help if both parties settle their debts before they file for divorce, or refinance joint debts under the responsible party's name. This may also mean obtaining a new mortgage if one spouse intends to keep the family home. Be careful of undisclosed debts for which an unsuspecting spouse might be held responsible, and make sure the property division process makes it very clear to whom each debt is allocated. Nobody wants the surprise of a creditor coming after him or her because an ex failed to pay his or her debts.

High asset divorce not for the faint-hearted

Massachusetts residents might agree that no divorce is easy to navigate, because they are so emotionally taxing on both spouses. The financial strain that is typically associated with a high asset divorce can make it even more challenging. The division of complex financial portfolios is hardly ever easy.

Many high net worth couples are both intimately involved in the running of a family business, and determining the value of each party's portion of the company is an intricate process that might require professional guidance. A financial valuation of the business is required, and the assets must be examined. Then, the proportional value of the contribution of each spouse will need assessment.

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