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Wellesley Family Law Blog

Child relocation must be in a child's best interests

After you go through a separation or a divorce, the idea of having your child taken even further away from you can be difficult. Sometimes, one parent needs to move away, though, and it is possible to negotiate a way to stay in touch so the parent who isn't the custodial parent can continue to have a good relationship with his or her child.

Generally speaking, it's normal for a case involving moving children to end up in court. No one wants to let their children go far away from them, even if it means an ex-spouse getting a better job or a more stable lifestyle. The important thing to know is that as a parent, you have the right to argue against or for taking your child to a new location, but it's up to the court to decide if this is in your child's best interest.

Do fathers have the same rights as mothers?

As a parent, you want what's best for your child. Is living with his or her mother in Massachusetts the best option? Will the court think so just because she's the mother and because she saw him or her a few hours more each day? These are questions you may have and that suggests that you need to protect your rights as a father, too.

If you're fighting for your rights as a father, then you probably wonder if men really tend to get the same rights as women. Some people have argued in the past that it's not the case, even though parents should be equals in the eyes of the law and are equal under Massachusetts state and federal laws.

Discipline versus abuse defined in Massachusetts

If you are getting a divorce and believe that your child is at risk of abuse if he or she is left with your soon-to-be-ex spouse, you may request custody and point out abuse, in particular, as a reason. Under the law, what is abuse? Spanking a child simply won't be enough to get a court in Massachusetts to agree to the request you've made, especially if no long-term physical harm was caused.

Why is that? A recent ruling by the Supreme Judicial Court has stated that it will not hold parents criminally liable for the use of reasonable force against their children. The force used must be for the purpose of keeping a child safe; for instance, spanking a child who disobeys and tries to put his or her finger in an outlet for the third time would be fairly reasonable. It's through this method that the child will learn that you mean what you say and that the action is dangerous.

Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner to divorce after 10-year marriage

If you enjoy following celebrity news, you may have heard about Ben Affleck, a Massachusetts native, and his divorce from Jennifer Garner. While no one enjoys reading about a pair splitting up, whether it's in a local area or Hollywood, there is some positivity about this divorce that has popularized it in the media. Unlike many celebrity divorces that hit the news, this one appears to be civil or even friendly. If you're going through a divorce yourself, this may be a better indication of what to expect, especially if you're on friendly terms with your soon-to-be ex.

The two have been married for just over 10 years. They met in 2003 on the set of Daredevil, one of the first reboots of comic book movies, and then they married two years later in 2005. Now that they have decided to divorce, there have been questions about their properties and children, but news surrounding the divorce suggests it will be friendly.

The rights of unmarried fathers explained

Having a child can be one of the great joys in your life. Children can make you grow as a person, enforce responsibility and give you a reason to be happy and successful. Sometimes, parents are in a difficult position, though, because they aren't married. If you find yourself in a similar situation in Massachusetts, then you need to understand how to move forward and claim your paternal rights.

As an unmarried father, you have rights that are defined by the United States, but you need to claim them to legalize them. Initially, during pregnancy or your child's birth, you could be identified as the "punative father," which simply means that you are a man who claims to be the biological father of a child but that the relationship hasn't yet been established by law.

How your assets can be divided during a divorce

When you decide to get a divorce, one of the things you'll need to do is to decide how to split your assets. If you and your spouse are on speaking terms and are amicable, it may be possible to work through your finances and other information to decide how to split your assets and debts. If you don't get along or can't work through the process, you may be able to work through mediation or allow a judge to determine the division of your assets.

In an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse have the right to determine how to split your assets. If you have a prenuptial agreement, this may already have an outline for how to do so, which can help in tense situations. If you are able to write up a separation agreement, then the court will review it and judge it based on how fair it is. If it's acceptable, then the court will agree to what you've submitted and that division will take effect.

What kinds of custody are there in Massachusetts?

What kinds of custody can you have in Massachusetts? That depends on the kind you want to have, but generally speaking, there are four types: sole legal custody, sole physical custody, shared physical custody, and shared legal custody. Each is slightly different, giving each parent different rights and responsibilities.

With sole legal custody, one parent can legally decide how to raise the child and which decisions should be made for the child's welfare. For instance, if you have sole legal custody and your ex wants your child to be raised as Christian, you could opt to instead raise your child as a Buddhist without any legal ramifications. If you were in a situation where you had shared legal custody, then you would have to work together with your ex to determine how you can both make decisions that impact your child's religious, emotional, and moral development.

You have a right to visit your child

Visitation is an important part of a child and parent's relationship following a divorce. There is nothing that can take the place of a true relationship between a parent and child, and to have a solid relationship, these two people need to spend time with one another. If you're not the custodial parent, visitation is likely invaluable to you. You want to spend as much time with your children as possible.

In Massachusetts, child custody and visitation is decided by looking at the best choice for the child. If both parents are stable, have good jobs and have safe homes, it's likely that time with each parent could be equitable. That would mean that joint legal custody could be granted, so both parents can share in the decision making about the child's health or other matters of importance.

What are the types of divorce?

Divorces aren't all the same. Some divorces go smoothly with two people who separate willingly and kindly. Some divorces have prenuptial agreements that make splitting assets simpler. Other divorces may be difficult and last for years because two people simply can't get along and decide how to break up the assets from their marriage.

On top of this, there are two legal kinds of divorce. One, a no-fault divorce, takes place when two people want to separate but no serious problem, like adultery or abuse, have taken place. The other kind, an at-fault divorce, occurs when one party is accusing the other of one of several faults. Those include things like committing adultery, being confined in prison, or abandoning a partner.

Proving contempt: Getting the child support you deserve

You deserve the child support that a court awarded to you, and if that child support isn't being paid, you don't need to sit back and wait for it indefinitely. Having to wait for this support may not affect you financially, but that's no reason not to seek it out. The support is meant to help your child get the things he or she needs, whether or not that money is necessary in his or her daily life. It's up to you to make sure the child support money goes toward your child's needs.

When child support isn't paid, the parent who isn't paying is in contempt of court. What that means is that he is willfully violating a court order, which is against the law. Anyone who disregards a court order can be punished by the authorities. Some examples of contempt include failing to pay child or spousal support, refusing to return your child after visitation or failing to make an effort to let you see your child for reasonable amounts of time.

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