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Wellesley Family Law Blog

How can I establish my parenthood over my child?

If you've never married to your child's other parent, then you could have dozens of questions about your rights as a parent to your child. Here are some common questions about paternity and how you can acknowledge that you're the father to your newborn, or growing, child.

First of all, start at the beginning of your child's life. If you weren't married to the mother of the child, then you won't automatically be listed as the father of your child. What do you need to do? In most cases, you need to file a document called a Stipulation for Voluntary Acknowledgement of Parentage. By doing so, you'll be volunteering to take on the responsibility of being the child's father. It takes 60 days for this form to pass through the court, and at that point, it's legally binding.

Support your child with appropriate child support payments

When you think of child support, what do you imagine it is for? If you see the money going toward your child's home, health and happiness, then you understand the very basis of what this money is meant to be used for. During a divorce, determining child support and how much one person should receive or owe can be contentious, but when all is said and done, this money is for the continued welfare of your children.

Massachusetts is similar to many other states in that child support payment amounts are based on preset amounts. This can be determined by the amount of money you earn and the amount the other parent earns. The number of children you have together will be considered, and medical insurance costs will have to be identified and added to the cost. Of course, if you have joint custody, this could affect the amount of child support paid as much as it would if one person has sole custody.

New law grants unpaid maternity or paternity leave

In Massachusetts, men who are becoming new parents have just had a law passed that can help them spend time with their newborns. Instead of just women getting maternity leave, fathers will now be able to get unpaid paternity leave, too.

This doesn't just apply in cases where a man is married or having his own child. In fact, even those adopting a child can get unpaid time off to spend with their new child. This law begins to take effect on April 7, 2015.

What are the Massachusetts laws on post-nuptial agreements?

A post-nuptial agreement is generally a good idea for those who want to protect their assets during a marriage. A post-nuptial agreement is signed after you're already married, so both parties should be well aware of the assets and debts of the other person. A post-nuptial agreement can be of help during a divorce, because it will determine how those debts and assets are split.

Each state in the United States has different laws surrounding divorce. Massachusetts has several specific laws that may help you through your divorce case, as long as you understand what they mean. For instance, in 2010, a law was created following a post-nuptial agreement-based case. The law now stands that post-nuptial agreements can be enforced, but the judge needs to be wary.

How do you know if you've gotten all your child support?

As a parent with primary custody of your child in Massachusetts, it's important to make sure that you're getting the child support you need and deserve. Child support is awarded so you can give your child everything he or she needs despite not having both parents in the home. If you're not receiving it, then the other parent is committing a crime.

To determine if you're receiving all your child support payments, you need to do a few things. First, remember that you may get several deposits or checks of varying amounts. It doesn't matter how the other person pays, as long as you get the full amount you're due by the due date. So, to determine if you've received enough child support, follow these steps.

Divorces defined: 4 styles of divorce found in Massachusetts

Divorce can be a sensitive subject. When you get a divorce, you may feel threatened; you're losing the person you loved, losing assets and potentially having to lose time with your children. To understand the way a divorce works and the implications of an at-fault or no-fault divorce in Massachusetts, you need to know a few things.

First, divorce itself is simply the legal process allowing for the ending of a marriage. While all states have varying styles of divorces, Massachusetts has "no-fault" and "fault" divorces that can be uncontested or contested. To break these terms down, start with a no-fault divorce.

Get the responsibility you want with a paternity test

It's not always easy to determine who the father of a child is; sometimes, the mother won't want the DNA test completed or doesn't want to comply since she and the father aren't getting along or aren't dating or seeing each other. If that's what's happening in your case but you want to establish paternity, then you have every right to demand that the test is given. Seeking a court order to legally establish your fatherhood will allow you to be part of your child's life.

Once paternity is established, you'll have all the traditional rights of a parent. You can seek custody and visitation rights, and you'll also be responsible for caring for your child or paying child support. You may be able to work to limit the amount of support you pay, too, in exchange for seeing your child more often or taking on greater responsibilities.

Massachusetts gay marriages: You may not be entitled to a divorce

When same-sex couples get married in Massachusetts, they are extended the same rights as those who are not in same-sex relationships. While this works for those who stay in Massachusetts, it does pose the question of what happens to people who were legally married in Massachusetts, move and then want a divorce.

While a divorce is legal in Massachusetts, it isn't necessarily going to be in another state. This is the issue that has come up in St. Louis, Missouri. A Feb. 11 report discusses how a same-sex couple requested a divorce in St. Louis. The men were married in Iowa, where same-sex marriage is legal, so they likely didn't see the problem with requesting a divorce.

How does Massachusetts implement administrative enforcement?

In Massachusetts, those who don't pay their child support can be forced to do so through administrative enforcement. The Child Support Enforcement Division is responsible for collecting and enforcing child support and does so through a fully automated program. That means that anyone who is overdue in paying child support may be subject to the administrative collection actions.

The first thing the state does is to send a notice to the parents who haven't paid their support on time. If they are past due on a payment, the notice is sent to remind them of the amount due and includes information on interest and penalties that the parent may face. The parent is also notified about ways the department can collect the funds.

Patrick Dempsey's divorce: Wife requests child custody, alimony

A divorce is something no one in Massachusetts wants to have to go through, but sometimes marriages simply don't work out. When children are involved, child custody can be a contentious topic to speak on, and it can leave ex-husbands and wives fighting over their rights. In those cases, legal support can help you understand your rights and help you make the best decisions for your children and family.

If you follow celebrity news, then you know that even celebrities have to go through divorces sometimes. That's what's happening right now to Patrick Dempsey and his wife Jillian Fink. Best known for playing a doctor on the hit Grey's Anatomy, Dempsey is a well-known actor. He and his wife had been married for 15 years.

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