Armstrong Law, P.C.

Lowell Massachusetts Family Law Blog

Child support and tax refund issues

When it comes to child support payments, there are different issues you may need to address. For example, perhaps you are concerned about being unable to pay child support and you worry about the potential consequences you may run into down the road, such as being taken into custody or unable to obtain a passport in the U.S. Moreover, falling behind on child support can also lead to the interception of your tax refund. In this post, we will look at other child support matters involving tax refunds.

For some people, tax refunds are a helpful boost. Those who have fallen behind on the child support they owe or anticipate financial challenges in the near future may allocate their tax refund toward child support payments. Having an influx of cash at a crucial time can be very helpful for non-custodial parents who are struggling to stay current, such as when one has lost his or her job or is facing medical problems they did not expect. Moreover, parents who cannot pay child support and have fallen behind on their payments may not be able to receive their tax refund due to the government intercepting it.

How do I handle a military divorce?

If you are a milspouse (military spouse) you know that as with everything else in the military, both marriage and divorce are far more complicated than they are for civilians. While military regulations and federal law may govern much about your marriage and divorce, how does Massachusetts state law impact the proceedings if you are a military spouse and wish to obtain a divorce?

One of the biggest factors to consider is whether or not an active duty serving member of the military can be served with divorce papers in a reasonable amount of time. Mass.gov details this difficulty, and points out that service members are exempt from defaulting. Imagine how difficult it would be to serve your spouse with divorce papers if they are deployed overseas, and yet laws still holding them accountable for any kind of default or non-response. If your divorce is uncontested, however, rather than being served your spouse can file a waiver.

Is legal separation possible in Massachusetts?

There may come a situation where you wish to take on all the trappings of a divorce without actually completely terminating your marriage - aka, a temporary or permanent separation. Yet not all states have a legal statute governing separations versus divorce; can you pursue a legal separation from your spouse in Massachusetts?

The simple answer is no. Per Mass.gov, Massachusetts has no legal precedent that defines "legal separation." Either you are married or you are divorced, but how you handle any separation is a matter between you and your spouse - for the most part. There are special circumstances, and one such circumstance is when you pursue what is called "separate support." But what is separate support?

I want to file for divorce...but can not find my spouse?

One of the more difficult cases of divorce is one in which abandonment or disappearance comes into play. Divorce law in Massachusetts generally requires that one party serve another with divorce papers, or that both parties file jointly. When your spouse has gone missing and you have not been able to find them through any means, however, what happens when you wish to divorce but cannot serve divorce papers?

Luckily, you are not bound into a marriage you do not want simply by the absence of your spouse. Massachusetts has alternative provisions for handling divorce from a missing spouse, as detailed on the Mass.gov website. As in any case, you must notify the defendant before a judge can make a decision. When you cannot notify the defendant by serving them with papers, you may first ask the sheriff to attempt to serve papers at their last known address. If that fails, you can petition the courts for a motion for service by publication, or a motion for alternative service.

Should I file a fault or no-fault divorce?

You never wanted it to come to this, but the day is finally here; you and your partner have decided to divorce, and end your lives together. Although it is a difficult decision to make, a solid understanding of Massachusetts divorce law can at least make the procedure more painless than your separation. One of the first things you need to understand is that divorce comes in multiple classifications, and you must choose if you will file a fault or no-fault divorce.

A no-fault divorce is the most common. As Mass.gov explains, in a no-fault divorce both parties agree that the marriage cannot be repaired but neither wholly blames the other. This means that you and your partner acknowledge that you had an equal hand in whatever issues led to your incompatibility. In a fault divorce, however, one spouse wholly blames the other for the dissolution of the marriage. This can be because of issues such as infidelity, withholding of affection, alienation of children, or other irreconcilable differences that lie primarily at the feet of one partner.

How many custodial parents are fathers?

There are a number of misconceptions that some people may have with respect to child custody. For example, some people may think that a father is not able to have sole custody of his or her child and that the child’s mother is always given custody. Or, some people may think that it is extremely uncommon for a father to have custody of his child. However, there are many fathers who have custody and it is essential for people who are pursuing custody to take a careful approach to this situation, regardless of their gender.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, data from 2013 shows that fathers accounted for one out of six custodial parents. Put another way, 17.5 percent of custodial parents were fathers during 2013, which shows how many fathers are responsible for raising their children following a divorce or the end of a relationship with the child’s mother. As with mothers, there are other issues relevant to fathers who are custodial parents, such as receiving child support payments and the other parent’s visitation rights.

What are the requirements for an annulment?

An annulment may seem like an easier option to a divorce if you and your newly-wedded spouse get cold feet after the rings are on your fingers. Yet annulments are complicated, and not simply an easy way to take back a legally binding marriage to avoid the complications and hassles of divorce. So who can get an annulment in Massachusetts, and what are the requirements?

Per Mass.gov, in order for your marriage to qualify for an annulment, it must be either void or voidable. These are actually two different statuses; a void marriage is one that already has no legal standing due to the circumstances inherent, while a voidable marriage is one in which the circumstances inherent make it viable for the courts to remove legal standing. Under only two conditions is a marriage already void and annulled by default: if you have unknowingly married a close relative or close relative by incest, or if one party in the marriage was already involved in a legally binding marriage and the other party did not know.

What happens in child custody cases where abuse is a factor?

If you and your minor child are escaping an abusive household via divorce, you may have concerns about Massachusetts courts awarding full or partial child custody or even visitation rights to your abusive former spouse. You have a right to protect your children, which means using the full extent of legal provisions available to demonstrate child abuse to the satisfaction of the court. Luckily, the state has a number of statutes in place to handle this matter.

Per Section 31A of Massachusetts general law, the courts must take the best interests of the child into account when considering temporary or permanent custody or visitation rights. This includes evidence of any prior or current abuse toward that child. Abuse can be defined either as a single serious incident or a pattern of recurring incidents, and encompasses everything from causing or attempting bodily harm to forced sexual relations. You may present evidence of such abuse to the courts to make a case for revoking the other parent's access to your child.

Prenups can be a critical part of the property division process

When two people get married, they make a serious commitment to each other that isn't rivaled by many other institutions or responsibilities. However, there are times where the married couple realizes that their relationship can't go on. They see the writing on the wall, and they accept the irreconcilable differences they now share. A divorce shortly follows, and then the soon-to-be-former spouses have to figure out what happens to the property they have accumulated over the years.

Some couples will sign a prenuptial agreement before they walk down the aisle. This contract makes the process of dividing up property upon the realization of a divorce far simpler, and the spouses can benefit greatly from having a prenuptial agreement involved in their marriage.

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