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Middlesex County Divorce Law Blog

Same-Sex Couples: What is the Defense of Marriage Act?

The Defense of Marriage Act was passed in 1996 as a federal law to define marriage as a strictly heterosexual union and to ban gay couples from receiving federal benefits. The law gave individual states the right to decide whether they would allow same-sex marriage, and to decide whether they would recognize same-sex unions from other states.

Before DOMA, the federal government had always recognized any kind of marriage deemed to be legal by the state in which it was carried out. After DOMA, gay marriage was essentially invalidated on the federal level.

Young mother stripped of child custody rights due to disability

Just two days after a 19-year-old Massachusetts woman gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, the state's Department of Children and Families took the infant away and put her in a foster home. A lot of people were left to wonder why. According to the government, the answer was simple: the young mother suffered from a developmental disability and therefore, she was not fit to care for the child.

According to state child welfare officials, the woman was not able to care for her baby properly; the organization continues to insist that it took immediate action in the interest of the child. However, the federal government has offered a dissenting opinion. According to a recent report on the matter, Massachusetts violated the 19-year-old mother's civil rights, and in the act of stripping away her child custody and parental rights, the state discriminated against a person with a disability.

The truth about divorce rates in Massachusetts and elsewhere

Considering the difficulties that the typical divorce presents, Massachusetts residents who are considering marriage may find it discouraging to see statistics in the news reflecting the high percentage of marriages that end in divorce. Indeed, the potential for divorce, and the disagreements over spousal support, property division and child custody that often come along with it, would be enough to discourage just about anyone from getting married. However, what if high divorce rate statistics that have been popularized since the 1970's are actually exaggerated?

There is a figure that has been floating around out there for several decades now, which says that 50 percent of marriages will end in divorce. However, there is some disagreement on this point. Figures from the U.S. Census Bureau say that divorce rates have been dropping. Meanwhile, other reports argue that divorce rates have been rising steadily and will continue to do so. Who is correct?

Are you having trouble with a child custody disagreement?

No Massachusetts parents enjoy listening to another person try to tell them how they should be raising their children. However, single parents who share child custody with the other parent of their child may have to listen to what the other parent says and recommends on child rearing matters. While it is always preferable to come to agreement on parenting issues in a peaceful fashion, sometimes disagreements escalate into court battles.

At Novick and Meyers, we have seen all manner of parenting disagreements between two people who share custody of a child. Just when we start to believe that we have "seen it all," we encounter a new kind of legal problem that we never thought was possible.

Getting rid of your home after a Massachusetts divorce

You may be hesitant to sell your home or give it to your spouse as part of the property division process. Typically, the home can be sold and the money can be split if you and your spouse cannot decide who gets it; however, you may want to keep it if possible, looking at it in terms of sentimental value. It may be the first home you owned, the place that you spent the last few decades of your life or even the place where you raised your children.

However, it might be better to just let go of it, rather than holding onto it for those reasons. One woman who neglected to do so ended up having multiple mortgages, and she could not afford all of the payments. This was such a stressful situation that the way she described it was as something that "broke her back." She also noted that it decimated her credit score.

What records should alimony payers maintain for tax purposes?

Every Massachusetts resident can benefit from an organized record-keeping system, and most people are well aware of this fact. When it comes to alimony payments, those who spousal benefits can benefit from should be keeping close track of any records relating to their payments too. These records will be very important to have on hand when dealing with year-end tax filings.

In the majority of cases, those who pay alimony can deduct those payments from their taxes. Meanwhile, those who receive the alimony must count it as taxable income. The reason this is particularly important for alimony payers is because an ex-spouse might not report the alimony payments received accurately. If the Internal Revenue Service notes a discrepancy in one spouse's report of what he or she paid and the other spouse's report of what he or she received, it could trigger an audit. You will definitely want to have the records on hand in the event of an audit.

Determining child custody in a Massachusetts divorce

Massachusetts parents who are considering divorce will have a lot to think about and decide with regard to their children. Issues involving child custody, visitation plans, parenting time and other matters are significant for the future well-being of their children.

Because most parents value their relationships with their children above all else, it can be very difficult to relinquish control of these decisions to a Massachusetts court. For this reason, it is always preferable that both parents come to a mutually agreed upon decision on their own terms, outside of the courthouse.

Establishing paternity for child custody

Many Massachusetts fathers are denied the ability to visit and spend time with their children. There can be a lot of reasons for this -- one of them being that the mother denies the father access. In other cases, the court may deny a father visitation rights if it believes that the best interests of the children are not served by the father's presence.

Fathers who want to spend time with their children but are not able to may have legal avenues available, which could help them obtain the visitation rights they desire. Legal complaints to establish custody and other kinds of paternity actions like this are not uncommon in Massachusetts. If they are successfully navigated, they could help fathers gain access to their children.

Chris Rock and his wife are heading for divorce

Reports have been swirling lately that Chris Rock and his wife are going to get divorced. Though the couple has been fairly quiet about the whole thing, it does appear that they are going to split up. This comes after they had almost reached their 20th anniversary, having been married for 19 years.

Though some divorces involving celebrities can grow complicated with such a large amount of assets and wealth on the line, Rock's own split does not look like it is going to be that messy or chaotic. A quote from his wife explained how the couple had worked hard to come to this decision together, and they appear to be in agreement that it is the right move.

Child custody advice for getting through the holidays

Getting through the holidays -- whether it is Christmas, Hanukkah or New Years -- can be difficult for a newly divorced Massachusetts parent. Indeed, everyone has a lot of special memories associated with the holiday season and it can be hard to cope with those memories after a family has been split apart. Nevertheless, by taking a few important steps, newly single parents can achieve a lot for themselves, their children and their families.

These days, more and more parents have shared custody and in their divorce agreements, it is likely that the terms for sharing the children during various holidays will be clearly laid out. That said, it is vital that divorced parents plan ahead with each other in order to know who will have the children and when. This will help keep things as stress free as possible for both yourself and your children.

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