Armstrong Law, P.C.

Lowell Massachusetts Family Law Blog

Your business partner’s divorce can affect your company

There are many risks associated with business partnerships in Massachusetts. One that catches many business partners by surprise is the risk of their partner’s divorce. These entrepreneurs may have taken every step to protect the company via prenuptial or postnuptial agreements, solid estate plans and even a succession plan. However, if their business partner failed to take similar steps, a divorce may cost them both a good chunk of the business.

Forbes notes that most states consider a business a marital asset. This means that during a divorce, that business may be subjected to division like any other asset. This may cause the divorcing partner to lose some of their stake in the business to the ex-spouse.

Penalties on back child support in Massachusetts

When it comes to child support payments in Massachusetts, many people consider the Bay State as one of the toughest. For example, the Mass.gov website warns that the state may still take actions against parents who fall behind, even if they make voluntary extra contributions to their past-due balance every week.

The state views past-due child support as an installment debt and requires parents to use their assets to pay off this debt as soon as possible. Not even social security disability and unemployment insurance checks remain immune to child support deductions.

The difficulties of securing parental rights for LGBTQ couples

When the Obama administration helped to make marriage possible for the LGBTQ community, it was a bittersweet moment. It brought them one step closer to having rights similar to heterosexual couples, but not exactly. One of the biggest outstanding issues was establishing parental rights for both parents when they started a family. This was tricky even when one spouse gave birth to the child and the other spouse was the biological donor.

According to NBC News, several states have stepped up to make it easier for same-sex couples to secure parental rights without spending thousands of dollars on adoption. Massachusetts is one of a handful of states that provides a gender-neutral hospital form that allows both parents to be listed on the child’s documents. Without this form, if anything should happen to the partner giving birth, the other spouse may have no parental claims to the child and may lose the child to the foster care system.

Student loans could end your marriage

For many students in Massachusetts, taking out loans was the only way they could afford to attend college. While some graduates have since repaid their debt, students in Massachusetts do contribute to the $1.5 trillion of student loan debt owed in America.

CNBC reports that more than a third of respondents to a SunTrust Bank survey shared that financial problems, including student loan debt, led to their divorce. In addition to this, 13% of responders specifically blamed student loans for the end of their marriage. Experts say the reason is not hard to guess at. It is difficult to build a life with someone who has high student loan debt. Debt can stand in the way of purchasing a home or car, and if they missed any payments, their credit score in general could plummet.

What is involved in paternity testing?

Fathers who have not legally established a relationship with their children should consider taking a paternity test. As a legally recognized father in Massachusetts, you would have greater child custody and visitation rights and can also more directly provide for your children. A DNA test is an important way to clarify your biological relationship with your children, and according to the Cleveland Clinic, it is a pretty simple process.

The goal of DNA testing is to determine if a child shares a prospective father’s DNA. DNA is genetic material that is unique to each human being. During conception, a child acquires half of his or her DNA from the father and the mother. A father seeks to show from a DNA test that his genetic material is also present in his child.

Relatives can protect children by filing for guardianship

When heartbreaking stories of families torn apart by substance abuse, incarceration, immigration and untimely deaths make the news in Massachusetts, the silver lining is that aunt, grandparent, older sibling or even a friend who stepped forward to take care of the children. These children often become attached to their informal guardians. Some may not have a relationship with their biological parents at all.

However, unless that person files for guardianship, the stability of the family relationship can be disrupted at any time. According to Mass.gov, to make this request, the adult(s) will need to file the following documents:

  •          Bond (MPC 801)
  •          Affidavit Disclosing Care and Custody (OCAJ-1)
  •          Petition for Appointment of Guardian of a Minor (MPC 140)
  •          If the parent(s) agree(s) with the appointment, then file a Notarized Waiver and Consent to Petition (MPC 440)
  •          If the parent(s) or other interested parties disagree, then file a Military Affidavit (MPC 470)

Women in the workforce prompt changes to alimony laws

Women in Massachusetts and the rest of America are no longer staying home throughout their marriage. The stereotype of the stay-at-home mom has been changing rapidly for over a decade, with men now often playing the role of stay-at-home-dads.

In fact, Forbes estimates that 40% of American households have a female breadwinner. Women are taking greater financial responsibility for themselves overall with or without men being present in the home. For these and other reasons, states all across America are revisiting alimony laws to limit the amount of money stay-at-home spouses usually receive. This affects not just women who receive spousal support, but men.

How families can make a smooth transition during divorce

When couples divorce in Massachusetts, it can be a difficult time for the entire family. While there are some cases where children and the parents are relieved to call it quits, the vast majority of families find it difficult to face new challenges apart.

Children may begin to wonder about their continued relationship with the leaving parent. Who will they live with? How often will they see their siblings if the children are split between the two parents? One spouse may also worry about the other’s ability to parent on their own, especially if they did not initially play an active roll in the children’s life.

Alimony may not be forever

Spousal support is often granted upon separation or divorce of a Massachusetts couple and is separate from child support. Also known as alimony, it is funds provided to the lower-earning spouse by the higher earning partner to maintain the standard of living set when the couple lived together.

LiveAbout states that there are different categories of alimony and several factors that determine whether an individual receives spousal support and for how long.

  • Temporary spousal support begins while the parties are separated and last until the finalization of the divorce. It helps to maintain the dependent spouse’s lifestyle until the couple reconciles or comes to an agreement regarding the settlement.
  • Reimbursement alimony is when a spouse receives recompense for specific expenses incurred by the other, such as if one put the other through medical school. Payment may be a lump sum or over time.
  • Rehabilitative spousal support helps the dependent spouse obtain the education, training or professional experience necessary for self-sufficiency. If one parent stays home with the couple’s small children, it may also last until the children begin school. This type of alimony typically has a fixed period.
  • Permanent alimony continues from the divorce until the death of the payor or the recipient. It may also stop when the recipient re-marries, although not always.

Why does the date of separation matter?

When divorcing in Massachusetts, people are often surprised to know that the end of the marriage is counted in two ways. The first is the date of separation and the second is the actual finalization of divorce. But, why does it matter when you separated? Does it have any legally binding consequences?

Forbes points out that in many instances, it does. Assets and debts accrued between the wedding day and the date of separation belongs to both parties. Assets and debts accrued after the date of separation belongs to the respective individuals.

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