According to some workers in Massachusetts probate courts, family life seems to be becoming more complex, chaotic and, in many cases, dysfunctional. As a result of these societal changes, the job of settling divorce and child support disputes between separating parties has become more and more difficult. Probation officers and child protective authorities who are often in the front lines of these disputes have the often thankless task of managing the conflict and officiating in the negotiations. They typically do this in the attempt to ensure a favorable outcome for all involved, especially the children.
Many cultural and societal changes in Massachusetts and the U.S. have had an impact on the divorce and child custody process. It is a new era where the definitions of 'family' and 'parenting' have come to rest in the eye of the beholder, and the traditional understanding of family life does not always apply. Further, cultural and political hot topics such as illegal immigration, domestic violence, criminal histories, drug problems and mental health issues now play a more significant and public role in divorce and child support disputes than in previous generations.
Society at large has become more educated regarding the problems associated with domestic violence, drug abuse and mental health issues. As a result, people have become less and less shy about discussing the impacts these issues have had on themselves, their marriage relationship and their family. As these issues come to light, the job of settling divorce actions and child custody disputes becomes exponentially more complex.
In many cases, child services authorities and probation officials are tasked by the court with intervening in divorce proceedings before the parties go before the judge in the hopes of negotiating an amicable settlement and child support agreement. However, the cultural and societal issues that have become more prevalent in our time often complicate and even thwart these negotiations. It is important that Massachusetts citizens entering one of these complex divorce cases know and understand all their rights and responsibilities under relevant state law in order to ensure that they get the most favorable possible outcome.
Source: Revere Journal, "At Probate Court, Probation Staff Aims to Make Disagreeable World More Agreeable," Oct. 4, 2012