Susan Rossi Cook, Attorney and Mediator

Franklin Legal Blog

Collaborative divorce advantages

When couples are approaching divorce, they may be looking to avoid litigation. Collaborative divorce and other alternate options for divorce, including mediation, can help divorcing couples who may be seeking to avoid litigation.

Different states have different laws concerning the divorce process and different options to help divorcing couples through the process. Negotiation, litigation, mediation and collaborative law may all be a part of the divorce process and will provide different resources for divorcing couples in different situations. The idea behind the collaborative divorce process is that it can help divorcing couples resolve their concerns in a way that is best for them rather than having the family law court, which is not as personal, decide for them.

How will my property be divided during divorce?

When couples are considering divorce, their number one and number two concerns are likely their children and property division concerns. Property division concerns likely extend to what will happen to a marital home during the property division process.

Fortunately, the family law system provides a process to help guide property division that allows the divorcing couple to know what to expect. In general, when property is divided during divorce in Massachusetts, it is divided in a manner that the court considers fair rather than just splitting the property in half. This may mean that an unequal distribution of property is fair, or equitable, but any property division agreement is based on a consideration of several factors and the circumstances of the spouses.

Child support resources for parents and families

Children have the right to receive financial support from their parents regardless of the circumstances. As a result, child support and child support concerns are important to understand. Parents likely have concerns so they should know what to expect from the child support process.

Child support is a court-ordered payment that a parent must pay for the support of their child. Child support orders can be developed in different ways. In some circumstances, they may be agreed to by the parents and in others they may be established through the family law process and the family law court. The child support process in Massachusetts is administered by the Department of Revenue.

Protecting your court-ordered parenting time after divorce

Making the transition from sharing a home with the parent of your child and raising the child in separate homes after divorce is rarely an easy process. Even in instances where the parents intend to work together to build a stable, loving parenting environment for the child, there are usually some pitfalls along the way, and few parents follow their parenting or custody plans to the letter all the time.

For most parents, following a custody order is inconvenient at least some of the time, and it is easy to start pushing the boundaries of acceptable behavior if either side lets the other take advantage of the situation. It is important to understand that this behavior may qualify as parenting time interference, a violation that courts take very seriously.

Former celebrity couple in mediation for co-parenting concerns

One advantage of divorce mediation is that it can help couples resolve concerns following their divorce as well as during their divorce and can also lay a foundation for couples to resolve future concerns that might come up following their divorce and divorce settlement. Former celebrity couple Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale are in mediation concerning their different parenting styles and how to raise their children.

It was reported that the two have different ideas about parenting and parenting styles, as one parent is more interested in parenting based on their religion. The former couple has 3 children. Their sons are ages 12, 10 and 4 ½. The couple's divorce settlement was finalized in 2016 and called for a 50-50 split of child custody and an unequal split of the marital property which Rossdale agreed to in taking less.

How property division is addressed during divorce

Property division during divorce is never fun but it does not have to be a difficult or painful as some divorcing spouses may envision or anticipate it being. The family law process provides ample legal resources to help with the property division process but also to help divorcing couples negotiate their property division settlement agreement and resolve any disputes that many come up during the process.

During the divorce process, financial issues, including property division, alimony and child support, all must be resolved. In Massachusetts, marital property is divided during divorce according to equitable property division rules. Equitable property division seeks an outcome that is fair and strives to divide marital property as equitably as possible. It is important to keep in mind that only marital property is divided, as opposed to separate property, so it is helpful to be familiar with the different types of property and how they are handled during divorce.

Massachusetts spousal support basics

Alimony can be an important part of a divorce when one spouse has remained at home to care for the household or children or has helped contribute to the career or education of the other spouse and has remained a non-wage earning or lower wage-earning spouse because of one of those situations. The spouse that may be required to pay alimony may object so it is important for spouses on both sides of the issue to understand how alimony is awarded.

When couples divorce, there are many issues to sort out and alimony is oftentimes one of them. Different types of alimony may be awarded based on different factors and for different lengths of time. Alimony may be intended to help the lower-wage earning or non-wage earning spouse obtain the skills and training necessary to be able to support themselves or it may be awarded to maintain the same or similar standard of living as before the divorce.

When can I receive a child support modification?

Over time, a child support agreement may no longer work and may need to be adjusted, or modified. The family law process provides resources to families and parents who need to seek a child support modification or wish to oppose a child support modification. It is important to be familiar with the details of that process.

There are many events that can transpire in the lives of parents, children and families that may make a previously workable child support order unworkable. Such events can include the loss of a job; suffering a serious injury; experiencing a change in marital status; or experiencing a change in household income, among some other types of changes that may warrant a child support modification.

Here's why you should avoid a judge making your parenting plan

You love your children, and all you want is to have enough time with them after your divorce. You feel like your ex-spouse isn't listening when you present the custody arrangements you want, and you don't know how to communicate your wishes without an argument breaking out.

The good news is that you have some options. However, one of the options, allowing a judge to decide, probably isn't as great as you may think. There are other alternatives that allow you and your children's other parent to work out a plan that is better for your specific situation and more flexible than the decision a judge would hand down. Here is a little more about why you don't want to have a judge make the decision for you.

Mediation during divorce has many benefits

There are many benefits of Massachusetts divorce mediation for divorcing couples who do not want to fight out everything it court. Divorce mediation options can be best for both the divorcing couple, their children and their pocketbooks. The mediation process involves the use of a third-party neutral to meet with both spouses and to help them work out a divorce settlement agreement based on the parties' needs and the mediator's understanding of those needs and the divorce laws concerning property division, child custody and other divorce-related issues.

The goals of divorce mediation are to create outcomes that are fairer and minimize the cost and acrimony sometimes associated with the divorce litigation process. Many divorce-related issues can be resolved through the divorce mediation process including property division, child custody, child support and alimony. Divorce mediation can also provide a framework that allows the couple to more easily resolve issues and concerns as they crop up down the road.

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Susan Rossi Cook, Attorney and Mediator

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Franklin, MA 02038

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