Claudette-Jean Girard, Attorney at Law
Local 413-315-5518
Toll Free 877-622-6089

Family Law Attorney

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

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Springfield MA Family Law Blog

How does health insurance factor into child support?

Even with changes on the federal political landscape regarding whether health insurance is mandatory, most parents in Springfield realize how important it is for children to have access to health care. Aside from the fact that children of all ages need to visit doctors and other professionals as a matter of routine, many children face serious physical or emotional conditions that require ongoing care and treatment.

Massachusetts' Child Support Guidelines contemplate that one or both parents will arrange to have health insurance for their children. While a court will have to determine whether health insurance is available at a reasonable cost to either parent, the court will presume there is in fact affordable coverage available if the parent can participate in an employer-sponsored plan. This is so even if the parent would personally choose to opt out of the coverage.

What is limited assistance representation?

It is no secret that hiring an attorney in Massachusetts is costly, even when everyone is being fair and reasonable and everything is being done to save on unnecessary legal expenses. The reality is that litigating a case is just expensive in the current market.

For those who are cost conscious yet still critically need legal representation, our law office offers an option that may be helpful. This option is called limited assistance representation.

Is January aptly named "Divorce Month?"

There is a common conception in Massachusetts and elsewhere that January is the primary month in which people start the process of getting a divorce by filing the necessary paperwork.

While there is some truth behind the nickname "Divorce Month," as will be explained, according to one study, most people file for divorce in either March or in August. This study is based on publicly available filings in another state, but they still could reasonably reflect the nationwide trends.

How tax change in alimony might affect negotiations

Because it marks a once-in-75-year change, this blog has written previously on the federal government's recent decision to adjust how alimony is treated for federal income tax purposes. To summarize our previous posts, any Massachusetts alimony order finalized on or after January 1 will not be a tax-deductible expense for the person order to pay alimony, nor will it be taxable income to the recipient. In other words, there will be no tax consequences either way with respect to alimony payments.

While we mentioned that this could affect how divorce and other family negotiations proceed in the future, it may be helpful to understand exactly how this change in legal landscape could make the divorce process more contentious, at least when it comes to property division.

Representation in high conflict custody situations

There is a lot of focus these days in the world of family law on the importance of parents putting aside at least some of their differences for the sake of their children and agreeing on a parenting plan. This is thought to be best for the well-being of the children, and, quite frankly, it also saves parents a lot of time and stress as well.

Unfortunately, often through no fault of their own, Massachusetts residents in the Springfield area can find themselves in a place where resolving a custody or parenting time issue in an amicable way is just not possible.

When can I ask for a change in child custody?

Even when both parents agreed at the outset, the reality is that child custody orders in Massachusetts are subject to be changed. This is not necessarily a bad thing, since the flexibility gives judges and parents the opportunity to make adjustments when a child's situation changes.

However, custody modifications do not just happen in Massachusetts because one parent wants a change. In fact, even if parents agree to make changes in their parenting plan, they still must submit those changes to the court for approval. The court will have to verify that these agreed changes really are in the child's best interests.

How does a temporary guardianship work?

This blog has, on previous occasions, talked about how those who have minor children in their lives who need immediate care can ask to be appointed as those children's guardian.

Normally, the process of getting appointed as a child's guardian takes a formal process which includes filing paperwork, notifying the children's parents and setting a court hearing.

How does a second job affect child support?

Many people in Springfield, Massachusetts take second jobs, or do extra hours at their first jobs, in order to make ends meet. Sometimes, this is just a matter of having a little extra spending cash in one's wallet, while at other times a family literally cannot pay the bills without one of the members working a second job.

When a family splits through divorce or, in the case of an unmarried, just an informal parting of ways, the fact that a person has a second job at the time of breakup can impact child support. This is because, to some extent, the family may have relied on that extra income for their living expenses, and children have the right to continue to receive support commensurate with that extra income.

A final reminder about alimony and taxes

Although this blog previously discussed this, with the end of the year approaching, this is a great occasion to remind Massachusetts residents of upcoming changes in the way alimony gets handled for tax purposes.

For divorces and other orders finalized before the end of this year, that is, by December 31, a person ordered to pay alimony may under the right conditions be allowed to take those payments as a deduction off of their taxes. On the flip side, a person who is receiving alimony had to report those payments as income on their federal returns.

The house isn't always worth the fight

For many couples in Massachusetts, the family home is a place full of memories and, at least at times, a place where one feels secure and safe. Financially, it is also a valuable investment, as many ordinary residents of Springfield have a lot, even the largest share, of their wealth in their residence.

These and other reasons make it fairly likely for a divorcing couple which is dividing marital property to argue about who will continue to own the house. Sometimes, fighting for the house makes economic sense or, even if it doesn't, is justified for other reasons, such as the well-being of a couple's children.

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1380 Main Street, Suite 302
Springfield, MA 01103

Toll Free: 877-622-6089
Phone: 413-315-5518
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