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Family Law Attorney

I provide experienced legal guidance in family law, divorce and special education law. I represent parents and families throughout western Massachusetts.

Springfield MA Family Law Blog

How do courts determine the 'best interests of a child'?

Throughout the court system in United States, including the courts in Massachusetts, one of the primary objectives is to protect any children involved in a divorce. The courts understand that a divorce has the potential to affect children, and it should come as no surprise to understand how or why.

It is not uncommon once a relationship begins to sour, that spouses begin lashing out at each other. This could lead to fights or verbal disagreements. If there are children who witness their parents fighting or arguing, they may become upset or confused. If the disagreements lead to domestic violence, it can be especially traumatizing for the children. The courts take domestic violence very seriously and will take it into consideration when making a decision regarding child custody.

Know what to expect with child custody visitation rights

As we have stressed in the past, the divorce is never easy and seldom painless for all parties involved. Although on occasions both spouses are on the same pages with many of the decisions that need to be made, this is rare. More often than not, there are differences of opinions, beliefs and wishes. This leads to disagreements. Add to it the fact that there is often animosity, resentment and hurt feelings, and things can get complicated and occasionally messy.

When it comes to visitation rights, it is necessary that both sides work together to make certain that the non-custodial parent receives reasonable and fair time with their child or children. The custodial parent typically has more leeway in this regard, but if it is believed that the custodial parent is purposely not working with his or her ex-spouse out of spite or malice, the courts may take that into consideration when making their decisions.

Understanding Grandparents' rights in Massachusetts

While parents are granted custodial rights to their children at birth, there are certain situations that may arise that require someone else to care for those children. These cases are rare though. But, that should not dissuade a grandparent who believes that the best interests of a child would be best served if they became the primary caretaker and guardian of their grandchild.

Such situations may include a parent or parents who are deemed unfit to care for their child. This could be the result of a history of drug or alcohol abuse domestic violence or parents who are mentally or physically disabled.

A look at alimony and family law

We all know that having and taking care of children can be a full-time job. That is why many married couples choose to have one spouse stay home with the child, while the other spouse works. This may be all well and good for both parents during a happy and healthy marriage, but if things go south, and a marriage fails, this could put the previously stay-at-home spouse at a disadvantage. This is especially true if they need to reenter the workforce after a length of time away.

What can be included in child support?

When Massachusetts residents think of costs associated with child support, often the first things that come to mind are necessities, such as food, clothing and shelter. But, to sustain a healthy and happy upbringing, we all know that there are far more items, activities and costs associated with childhood. The courts understand this as well and allow a custodial parent to use child support payments for many things during the upbringing of the child.

Benefits should be considered in special-needs divorce planning

This blog has previously discussed the fact that parents of special-needs children may have to do more planning and negotiation than other parents, when they get divorced or separate. Putting together a shared child custody implementation plan in Massachusetts was touched on in a prior post. While most parents of such children are used to having to go the extra mile for their kids, there may be things that do not occur to them when contemplating how to proceed in a family court situation. One of these may be how any family court order could affect benefits received for the child in question.

Special needs kids in Massachusetts may receive cash benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) in the form of Social Security Disability (SSD) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Because SSD is an entitlement program and not income-based, it may not be affected by a family court order.