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Wellesley Family Law Blog

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.

How to get your child support payments modified

If you need to have your child support payments modified, you typically can by following a child support modification process through the courts or by making an agreement with your ex-spouse. If you can't support the amount of money you're expected to pay, it's important to act quickly to get your modification set into action; if you don't, you could start owing back child support, which can be expensive.

If you know your circumstances are going to change or if they do suddenly due to injury, job loss or other situations, then you need to inform the court. Try to make an agreement with the other parent of your child, asking to modify the amount you owe. If you can agree to a new agreement, even if it's just until you can afford the old payments again, then this will help keep you out of court.

Grandparents: Assistance and aide in Massachusetts growing

As a grandparent, you want to know that the law is on your side if you ever need to take care of your grandchildren. You need support, and you need to protect the little ones you love. Across the United States, there are around 2.5 million grandparents taking care of their grandchildren as their own for varying reasons. Sometimes, their parents are unwell; other times they're in the military. In certain cases a parent may be in jail or be addicted to drugs, prompting grandparents to step in and take of their children's offspring.

In Massachusetts, there are over 28,000 children with primary caregivers who are their grandparents, the U.S. Census reports. One thing that is important to these people is, of course, the ability to gain custody of their grandchildren in often difficult situations.

Get DNA proof to determine your responsibilities to a child

As a potential father of a child, you want to be sure that the child is yours. You can be absolutely certain if you have a DNA test, but if your ex-partner or current partner doesn't want to allow the test, then you may have to get the test ordered by the courts.

As someone who wants to establish paternity, you have several rights. You have the right to request the DNA test, and if you have enough evidence to support the request, it may be granted. You can also affirm that you're the father of the child voluntarily if you choose to, which won't require you to provide a DNA test's results.

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