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Wellesley Family Law Blog

What is parental alienation?

In this blog, we write frequently about the challenges that both divorced parents and children of divorce face. We also continually stress how important it is that parents do their best to set aside their own hurt and anger and work together to effectively co-parent. Unfortunately, some divorced parents have a difficult time fostering and encouraging a healthy relationship between a child and an ex-spouse.

Yes, a child may be angry and lash out at one parent when he or she sees that mom or dad is upset and sad. However, it's a parent's obligation to shield a child from some of the harsh realities that may accompany divorce and to ensure that a child is allowed to continue to have contact and form a loving relationship with an ex-spouse.

Parents hold the key to helping a child through divorce

Every adult can likely think back to when they were a child and the many challenges that accompany the growing-up process. For any child, it's normal to worry and stress about making friends, doing well in school and fitting in. When a child is also concerned about the state of their parents' marriage and ongoing conflicts at home, it's bound to have a negative impact on a child's mental and emotional wellbeing.

In cases where parents decide to divorce, a child can benefit from no longer being subjected to daily fights and the general feelings of unrest and unhappiness that often dominate the homes of unhappily married couples. However, with divorce, come additional issues and feelings that, if not discussed and worked through, may result in a child suffering long-term psychological and emotional pain and trauma.

Helping parents sort out child custody matters

For any parent, a divorce or split from a child's mother or father likely signals concerns about parental rights and issues related to child custody and visitation. All too often, these types of highly emotional matters escalate and grow increasingly contentious as parents disagree about what is truly in a child's best interests.

Whether a parent is seeking to gain sole custody or believes that a joint custody arrangement is best, a family law attorney at the Law Offices of Lisa A. Ruggieri, P.C. can provide strong legal support and advocacy. We understand the tremendous stress and deep pain that parents, and especially children, who are embroiled in custody battles experience. For these reasons, when possible, we work with parents to resolve child custody and visitation matters outside of court.

Are you prepared for the divorce process?

When a marriage ends and divorce is eminent, it's normal to feel both excited and scared about the future. This is often particularly true for individuals who, during a marriage, relied upon a spouse's income for financial support. As with many things in life, when faced with making the numerous judgment calls and decisions that accompany the divorce process, it's best to rely upon the advice and guidance of experts.

For anyone who is facing a divorce, it's wise to secure a team of legal and financial professionals who can guide you successfully through the divorce process. In addition to hiring the right divorce team to help ensure that you make decisions that will ultimately benefit you both during and after a divorce, it's also important to know your current financial status as well as to define your future financial needs and goals.

Coping with the changes that accompany divorce

It's New Year's Eve and as residents throughout Massachusetts prepare to ring in 2016, many are likely reflecting on the status of their relationships and personal lives. For those individuals who are going through or who plan to soon file for divorce, the process can be mentally taxing and emotionally draining.

Often these feelings are intensified by something a soon-to-be ex-spouse says or does or by general feelings of not being in control of one's life and current circumstances. While change is inherent to the divorce process and anyone who goes through a divorce will likely, at some point, feel a bit uneasy and disoriented; your attitude and outlook can either positively or negatively affect your overall mental health and wellbeing.

When it comes to the divorce process, preparation is key

When making any type of life-changing decision, it's always best to know what you're getting yourself into. Prior to making a big decision, most people do some research to determine their best options and the associated pros and cons. For those Massachusetts residents who are contemplating filing for divorce in 2016, this same process should be taken with regard to an impending divorce.

The vast majority of divorces are spurred by strong emotions including anger, frustration and resentment. These intense feelings and emotions can make it difficult to think clearly and rationally and mistakes made during the divorce process can end up having significant financial consequences. It's important, therefore, to do your best to set aside your emotions and do your homework before you file for divorce.

What should and should not be included in a prenuptial agreement?

Most people who are planning to marry can benefit from establishing a prenuptial agreement. This is especially true for individuals who have a considerable amount of assets prior to marrying as well as those who have a stake in a family business. In order to ensure that the terms of a prenup are legally binding and, if necessary, will hold up in court; it's important to turn to an attorney for advice and assistance.

For example, in addition to the inclusion of state-specific language, there are also certain provisions that should never be included in a prenup. For example, decisions related to child custody must be determined by the rules of a family court and should therefore not be included in a prenup. Additionally, such agreements are meant to deal primarily, if not exclusively, with financial matters. It's never advisable, therefore, to include provisions related to personal issues such as a spouse maintaining a certain weight or each spouse’s responsibilities with regard to household chores.

Divorce and divvying up retirement assests

For many divorcing couples, coming to an agreement about how to divvy up assets and property is the most important and time-consuming part of the divorce process. Depending on an individual's age, after real estate, retirement assets may be among one’s most-valuable assets. It's crucial, therefore, to understand how retirement assets are valued and how to avoid tax penalties when transferring assets from these accounts.

When it comes to divorce; assets held in retirement accounts like 401(k)s, 403(b)s, traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs are fair game and, in Massachusetts, subject to equitable distribution between splitting spouses. While an individual who is going through a divorce in his or her mid 30s may have difficulty truly understanding the full benefits of going after an ex's retirement assets, such assets can help an individual achieve long-term financial goals and ensure for financial security during retirement.

With the divorce rate hovering at 50 percent, a prenuptial agreement just makes sense

For couples who are planning to wed, much time and attention is often devoted to planning a wedding. While, at the time, discovering the perfect wedding location and selecting a cake may seem like the most important decisions one will ever make; after the honeymoon period ends, such details are quickly forgotten.

According to the Massachusetts Family Institute, as of 2011, the divorce rate in the state was roughly 50 percent. This figure is in line with national statistics where an estimated one out of every two marriages ends in divorce. Despite the odds that one's marriage could end in divorce, prior to marrying, many couples fail to take steps to establish a prenuptial agreement.

Avoiding co-parenting disputes during the holiday season

For an unhappily wed individual, divorce ushers in many changes and signals numerous new opportunities. No longer forced to live in a tension-filled home with one’s ex, an individual is free to make his or her own decisions about how to live life and build a happier future. For couples with no children, once a settlement is reached and signed, divorce can truly offer a clean break from an ex-spouse. For divorced parents, however, their lives will forever be linked as they attempt to successfully co-parent.

While there are many times when divorce truly is the best option for parents and children alike, that’s not to say that it it won't, at times, be difficult for everyone involved. For many divorced families the holidays are a particularly hectic and challenging time. For divorced parents, while it may be impossible to avoid all conflicts, it’s important to plan ahead, communicate clearly and be willing to compromise.

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