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Franklin Legal Blog

How can a prenup help if my marriage ends in divorce?

A prenuptial agreement, sometimes called a "prenup," is a contract that individuals enter into with their soon-to-be marital partners. In Massachusetts, individuals create prenuptial agreements to protect their premarital assets, avoid incurring the costs of their future spouses' debts and to divide marital assets in the event that their marriages end in divorce.

There are certain things that prenuptial agreements cannot address. For example, a prenup cannot establish child custody and visitation matters. This is because decisions made regarding kids in the courts must be done with the consideration of the children's best interests as a priority. This cannot be done in advance of the situations that give rise to custodial negotiations.

Family law mediation can be good for parents and kids

A divorce does not have to be an ugly fight. In fact, through mediation many Massachusetts couples can successfully end their marriages without significant conflict or drama. Mediation can be good for the parties involved as it can be a less stressful and more cost-effective method of bringing a legal union to its end than litigation. It can also be a good way to minimize the stress of a divorce on couples' shared children.

When their parents' relationships end, kids can feel a range of emotions, from self-blame to anger and resentment. These feelings can be exacerbated when their parents' legal processes become contentious and take their focus off of their children. A child of divorce may feel isolated and alone as their household splits into two, but it is important that every child's experience will be different.

6 key tips to help parents and kids adjust to post-divorce life

You file for divorce, and all you can think of are your children. Losing the marriage is fine. You feel at peace with it. You just don't want it to harm the kids, emotionally or psychologically. You want what's best for them. You always have, from the time they were born until now, when they are in or nearing their teenage years. 

There's good news: You already have the ideal mindset. The kids need to come first, and you know it. You want to focus on their best interests.

New Year is a good time to consider custodial changes

Each year families in Massachusetts change through marriage, the births and adoptions of children and divorce. As they grow and modify their structures families can be forced to accept new schedules and living arrangements that may not match what they are used to experiencing. These changes can be difficult for everyone, but can be especially trying on children.

A child who is subject to a custody order or agreement must accept that what their parents have established for them in terms of custody and visitation is in their best interests. They must, in some cases, travel from their parents' homes on a regular schedule and learn to operate in a lifestyle where permanence is not necessarily the norm. While they may grow accustomed to the child custody plan that their parents develop early on, a child may find that as they age their needs from their parents also modify.

Parental relocation can disrupt an existing custody plan

Franklin residents often struggle to find a good balance between their work responsibilities and their family lives. While they may prioritize the needs of their spouses and kids over the tasks that their employers want them to do, they may also feel a strong push to excel in their careers and advance to positions of greater significance. Sometimes, work and family needs come into direct conflict and one of the ways this can happen is if a person is asked by their employer to relocate.

Job relocation can be disruptive to a family that is not affected by divorce, but when a parent has to move and shares custody of their kids with their former partner the challenges can become very apparent. If a parent is the sole custodial parent of their child then they may have more flexibility to move as they see fit for their job. But, if the parent shares custody of their child with the other parent, then they may have to negotiate a new custody plan in order to effectuate the move.

Is mediation the right choice for your divorce?

It is important that individuals who are thinking about filing for divorce understand the different options they have for bringing the relationships to their legal ends. In Massachusetts, a person may choose to litigate their divorce through the courts and this is generally considered the traditional path to divorce. However, they may also use the mediation process to work with their spouses and to come up with collaborative solutions to their property, custody and financial concerns.

During a mediated divorce a person and their spouse will work with a neutral third party to evaluate the many matters that must be settled before their union may be broken. The neutral third party is the mediator, and that person does not represent either of the parties to the divorce. Rather, the mediator serves as a source of information to the parties to help steer them through the legal complexities they will encounter and help them come to party-driven solutions to their divorce-related disputes.

What happens when a dad can't be present for his kids?

Some dads cannot see their children because the other parent is denying them access. These cases are sad for the father, and especially for the children.

The truth is: Kids need their dads growing up, plain and simple. The presence of a father in the life of a child is essential for the child's psychological development and sense of emotional security.

Divorcing partners can agree about value of marital property

Previous posts here have discussed how Massachusetts is not a community property state. To this end, marital partners may own separate property to which their spouses do not have rights to claim; they may also own marital property jointly. When working through a divorce, it is customary for parties to retain their separate property, but the disposition of their marital property can be somewhat more complex.

Courts maintain the goal that property divisions should be fair given the circumstances of the partners' relative financial positions. For example, if one partner has significant independent wealth and their soon-to-be ex-spouse owns nothing on their own, it may be equitable to provide the less fortunate spouse with more marital property than the financially solvent spouse so that each may succeed financially when their marriage is over.

What are the benefits of choosing mediation for your divorce?

It is important for our readers to understand that mediation is a tool of the legal system. While it may reap benefits for some who choose to engage with its process, it may not effectively serve others. Before selecting either litigation or mediation as one's path to divorce, a person may wish to discuss their case with a family law attorney to devise a strategic and cohesive divorce plan.

For those who select mediation and who are able to use it to end their marriages, there are a number of potential benefits. First, a mediated divorce requires the parties to work together, clearly communicate and find common ground in order to bring their marriage to its end. Therefore, divorced parties often find that they are more at peace with their marital dissolutions and on better terms with their ex-spouse when they mediate as opposed to litigate their divorces.

Co-parenting is possible with a solid child custody plan

No parent in Franklin wants to imagine a world in which their child has anything less than the best possible life experience. However, from time to time the needs and preferences of those parents may influence the manner in which the children are brought up. For example, when parents decide to end their marriage in divorce their children's lives can dramatically change.

It can be hard to work with a person to whom one no longer wants to be married, but working together during and after a divorce is critical to protecting the best interests of any children that the parties share. Working together does not have to mean being friends with one's ex-spouse, or even liking one's ex-spouse, but it does mean respecting an ex-partner's rights to their kids and any child custody agreements and orders that may be in place to govern those relationships.

Susan Rossi Cook, Attorney and Mediator
38 Pond Street Suite 301
Franklin, MA 02038

Phone: 508-507-8742
Fax: 508-528-5177
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