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Concord Massachusetts Family Law Blog

Domestic violence and child custody

Family law challenges take on many forms and couples who have children often face a number of legal issues. Not only does child support often become tricky, but some may disagree on custody matters. For example, a couple may not want to split custody in a certain manner, or someone may feel that the other parent of their child should not be allowed to have any custody whatsoever. For example, someone who has witnessed or been subjected to domestic violence at the hands of their partner may be very worried about the outcome of a custody battle.

If you have dealt with domestic violence, it is crucial to protect yourself immediately. Sometimes, the divorce process can take a significant amount of time and you should do whatever you can to ensure that you and your kids are not subjected to any further mistreatment. Whether abuse is physical, sexual or verbal in nature, those who are guilty of domestic violence must be held fully accountable for their actions.

What do many people not know about gray divorce?

The Baby Boomers and the Gen Xers are getting older, but they still know how to take matters into their own hands when it comes to their happiness. For many Massachusetts residents, this can mean seeking a divorce later in life. You might recognize this term as “gray divorce.”

Gray divorce usually applies to those over the age of 50. In previous generations, married couples usually stayed together, even if they were miserable with each other. This was largely due to traditional family roles with the wife staying home to raise the children and take care of the household. Most women simply lacked the means to support themselves, and thus stayed in unhappy marriages. As you know, things have changed in the last few decades.

Know when an uncontested divorce may or may not work for you

As you may already know, you have numerous options when ending your marriage. In addition to litigation, your other choices include uncontested means, such as mediation and collaborative law. However, as we at the Law Offices Of Sheara F. Friend understand, each marriage in Massachusetts is different, and not all divorce methods work the same way for everyone.

You may know that there are many benefits to an uncontested divorce. The American Bar Association points out that mediation and collaborative law may cost less, take less time and be less stressful than taking your divorce disputes to court. Uncontested divorce is also private, rather than being a matter of public record, and you can learn valuable communication and negotiation techniques by resolving your disputes amicably.

Get to know the basic child custody options available to you

If you are a parent just beginning the divorce process in Massachusetts, you may be wondering what your options are for child custody. Whether you and your spouse can agree on a custody arrangement for your child or you will be figuring it out in court, it is important to fully understand the different options available to you, so you can advocate for the best option for your child.

Physical custody

Determining if your prenuptial agreement will hold up in court

You may be headed toward your Massachusetts divorce feeling that, even though everything else in your life is going wrong, at least your prenuptial agreement will prevent a disaster in divorce court. At the Law Offices of Sheara F. Friend, we often assist clients in assessing the validity of their prenuptial and postnuptial agreements so they are prepared for property division negotiations.

If your prenuptial agreement protects much of your property from your spouse, he or she may try to claim that the document should be thrown out. FindLaw explains that grounds for an invalid prenuptial agreement may include one or more of the following:

  • The spouse felt pressured to sign
  • The spouse did not read or understand it
  • The spouse did not get enough time to fully think things through before signing
  • Important information was left out
  • Some of the information in the agreement was false
  • The agreement leaves the spouse in severe financial hardship

Why and how to modify a child custody arrangement

Massachusetts parents who have gotten a divorce will also have to work through child custody arrangements. However, situations don't stay the same forever. There may come a day in which a couple believes their old custody arrangement simply doesn't work anymore. But can it be changed?

In short, yes. FindLaw states that there might be numerous steps involved before a person can modify their child custody arrangement, but it's entirely possible. There are two main ways to go about it: through a hearing, or through agreement. Agreement is the easiest option. If two ex-partners agree on the changes that need to be made, they can simply submit the proposal to the court. Usually, it will be approved.

Could my ex-spouse change our divorce agreement?

The law does allow options for parties to a divorce to potentially change the terms — or enforce them. Once the process begins to modify a divorce judgment in Massachusetts, there would probably only be a few courses of action available that would keep you out of court.

However, you could be able to forestall or completely prevent the other party from contesting the agreement. This often requires a long-term strategy, using collaboration and mediation during the initial divorce proceedings to maintain balance and promote harmony after everything is said and done.

Alternative dispute resolution in divorce

If you and your spouse are thinking about splitting up but wonder if there is an alternative to divorce litigation, you are not alone. At the Law Offices of Sheara F. Friend, we have noticed a trend of Massachusetts couples seeking to end their marriages through alternative forms of dispute resolution. Usually, this means either a collaborative divorce or mediation. 

Regardless of which method you choose, alternative dispute resolution offers you and your spouse several advantages as you divorce each other. Your divorce will not only affect you and your spouse but other families members as well, particularly any children you may have together. Alternative dispute resolution is a way to minimize, or potentially eliminate altogether, the stress and pain your divorce may cause to family members as well as yourselves. Rather than having the court impose a settlement that may not be satisfactory for either party, alternative dispute resolution allows you and your spouse to talk out a settlement of your own choosing.

Consider your retirement as you divorce

For years you have worked hard at your job. You’ve built a career that you are proud of. The paycheck you bring home is what you depend on to get through each day. That money pays your bills and buys your groceries. Just as you count on it today, you know you will count on your retirement funds in the future.

Now that you are getting a divorce, you fear what will happen to your retirement. You know that property is divided and want to take steps to safeguard your nest egg.

What can I do to protect my business during a divorce?

Concord business owners stand to lose a lot when faced with divorce. You may even lose ownership stake in your business, which can have a devastating effect on you as well as the future of your business. Accordingly, knowing how to properly safeguard marriage is a must, as illustrated by Inc.

The level of involvement your spouse has in your business can be an influencing factor in court. That’s why you should take steps to limit his or her involvement now, particularly as it pertains to financial matters. Separate finances for personal and business costs is crucial to establish that you were the primary contributor to the success of your enterprise and that you didn't use shared funds to achieve your goals. Also, don’t consult your spouse on management matters, even casually, as this could be construed as providing advice.

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