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Middlesex County Divorce Law Blog

What life events can cause a Massachusetts divorce?

The negative aspects of divorce, like divisions of property, debt and questions about spousal support, can be so severe that it leaves many Massachusetts residents wondering what they may have done wrong in their marriage. While no one can know for sure the reason why a particular marriage was doomed to fail, there are a few events that -- if they occur -- may cause some concern.

Living apart is one of those events that can trigger any manner of problems in a marriage. According to RAND Corporation, which conducted a study of military families in 2013, the longer an enlisted service person was deployed away from his or her spouse, the higher chance there was that the marriage would end. This could have as much to do with the time apart as it has to do to the time re-adjusting to being back together again after living apart.

Seeking alimony payments in Massachusetts

At Novick & Meyers, we have helped countless individuals seek alimony payments in their divorce proceedings. Sometimes, it is necessary for us to empower individuals to feel "okay" about seeking these kinds of benefits from their soon-to-be ex-spouse. However, when a client in need of financially help sees the reality of their situation, it is fairly easy to understand why alimony payment are fair to both sides of the divorce.

If a Massachusetts resident is married to a spouse who earns more money, the lower-earning spouse is at a severe financial disadvantage coming out of the marriage. Indeed, the threat of cutting off this income stream was enough to keep many spouses in toxic -- and even physically or psychologically abusive -- marriages for the rest of their lives. Alimony laws solve this problem by giving a spouse a means to sever ties with the marriage and begin a new, independent life while not becoming financially destitute.

Rapper Ludacris receives full custody of his daughter

Rapper Ludacris has received full custody of his daughter in an emotional legal battle with the mother of the child. He has also received a child support award of $2,000 per month. In his legal case, the rapper was able to argue that his career and net worth have suffered cash flow issues since last year's death of fellow actor Paul Walker, which caused problems for a movie they were filming.

The rapper, whose net worth is estimated at $25 million, started out his child custody case on the defensive. The mother of his daughter was asking for full custody in addition to $15,000 per month in child support. The mother made fierce claims against the rapper, saying that he begged her to abort the child and even offered to pay for the procedure if she went through with it. Because of the harsh nature of the woman's claims against him, Ludacris requested that the records be sealed.

What is sole custody?

Divorcing couples who have children will need to consider what type of child custody arrangements they want at the completion of their divorce. Some couples choose joint custody (shared custody), while other couples choose sole custody (just one parent has custody). The most common custody arrangements these days are joint custody ones, so let's look at sole custody and see what it entails.

Sole custody arrangements are not very common, and they usually come about after one or the other parent is determined unfit or not able to care for a child. Some reasons why a parent might be determined unfit are histories of child abuse, drug addiction or criminal activity.

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.

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