Susan Rossi Cook, Attorney and Mediator

Franklin Legal Blog

How to co-parent after a divorce

The terrain ahead following a divorce can be uneven and challenging for newly divorce parents and families which is why understanding how to successfully co-parent can be useful. Some tips for successful co-parenting can help. To begin with, it is important for both parents to provide quality time with their children and to be there for them both physically and emotionally, as divorce is an adjustment for everyone.

In addition, it is important to talk with the children about the divorce and assure them that they have not been abandoned either physically or emotionally as change inevitably occurs following a divorce. Along those lines, it is important to let the children be children and not involve them in the problems the parents are facing. Divorced parents should also cooperate and support the other parent's role and relationship with the children, remaining focused on what is in the best interests of the children.

The basics of negotiating a divorce settlement

There are many issues to sort out during the divorce process. Understanding the scope of divorce-related issues that must be addressed, as well as how the family law process handles those issues, can be helpful for divorcing couples to understand. The divorce process is intended to help the divorcing couple each move forward in as positive a financial position as possible but that means a number of divorce-related issues must be sorted out beforehand.

A divorce settlement negotiated by the parties, with the assistance of the court when necessary, addresses financial divorce-related concerns such as property division, alimony and child support. Following a divorce, both parents are considered responsible for the financial and emotional support of their children. Child support calculations are based on state guidelines. Because these guidelines can change, it is helpful for parents to remain current considering how child support is calculated in Massachusetts.

Your children have rights, even during child custody cases

Your children's interests have to remain the primary focus of your child custody agreement with your ex. When parents are battling it out during a child custody case, they often lose sight of the fact that children have rights as well. It is easy to get so focused on the technical aspects of the case that you forget.

One thing to remember when you are dealing with custody issues is that your children are the ones who are most feeling the effects of what is going on. Keeping childrens' rights in mind might make it easier to make difficult decisions:

The benefits of divorce mediation

Utilizing mediation during the divorce process can help divorcing couples address a variety of important divorce-related issues. The mediation process allows divorcing couples to determine what is best for their family and children and reach outcomes according that reflect that. Mediation provides an alternative to divorce court that allows couples to resolve their concerns in a more friendly, efficient and cost-effective manner.

The option of divorce court is always available to help couples that cannot work out divorce-related concerns amongst themselves but family law mediation provides a helpful alternative to resolve many issues. Divorce-related issues couples may be able to address and resolve during the divorce mediation process include distribution of property; child custody and co-parenting agreements; child support; alimony; retirement; and other concerns.

The different types of alimony in Massachusetts

Alimony is an important part of the divorce process for both spouses. Both the paying spouse and the recipient spouse will want to know what type of alimony award might be made in a divorce and should understand the different types of alimony that are possible according to Massachusetts laws. Generally, there are four types of alimony that may be awarded including general term alimony, rehabilitative alimony, reimbursement alimony and transitional alimony.

General term alimony is financial support paid regularly to an ex-spouse that is financially dependent on the former spouse. The duration of general term alimony depends on the length of the marriage. The length of alimony generally depends on the length of marriage and varies based on if the length of the marriage was 5 years, 10 years, 15 years or 20 years. Rehabilitative alimony is financial support that is paid to an ex-spouse the court expects will be able to support themselves within a certain period of time.

How to modify a child custody arrangement

Needing a child custody modification can be a significant concern for divorced parents. As a result, knowing when a child custody modification may be granted, and under what circumstances and in what situation, is important. In general, in Massachusetts, a child custody order may be modified if it is no longer in the best interests of the child or if there has been a significant change in circumstances for the parents or child.

When considering a child custody modification, the family law court will be deferential to what is in the best interest of the child with a focus on the well being of the child and ensuring that is achieved and maintained. The court will consider a child custody modification if the child is in danger or if a parent has died. The family law court will also evaluate requests for parental relocation and the impact it will have on a child custody arrangement based on a number of factors. If one parent does not follow the child custody arrangement, the family law court may also evaluate a child custody modification.

How is property division determined in Massachusetts?

Property division can be a significant concern for divorcing couples which is why it can be helpful to understand how it is determined in Massachusetts. Divorcing couples might have many questions concerning property division so some answers regarding how to expect property will be divided can be helpful.

Property division in Massachusetts when couples divorce is referred to as equitable property division. Unlike some states that divide property in half upon divorce according to community property rules, Massachusetts divides property upon divorce according to equitable property rules which means that property will be divided fairly as possible but does not necessarily mean property will be divided in half.

The importance of negotiating a child custody agreement

Child custody may be one of the most significant, and understandable, concerns for divorcing parents. When a couple is considering a divorce, at the top of their list are likely considerations about where their children will reside, who will make important decisions for them, how they will co-parent and how the divorce may impact their children. It can be helpful for parents to know that the family law system provides resources to help them with each of these concerns.

In general, child custody determinations are based on what is in the best interests of the child. It is important to always maintain that as a focus of all child custody considerations during and following the divorce. Developing a child custody plan that is in the best interests of the child can be achieved through mediation or other resources available to divorcing parents through the family law system.

What are the benefits of divorce mediation?

Divorcing couples may have heard of divorce mediation and wondered what it is. The answer is that there are different options available to couples today seeking a divorce that may allow them to avoid the downsides sometimes associated with divorce litigation. Divorce mediation is a process for divorcing couples to consider that allows them to resolve divorce-related issues in a manner that may be better for their children and family.

When couples engage in mediation, a mediator can help facilitate communication and understanding; help the parties understand their own and the other's interests; and creatively problem-solve and reach agreement regarding divorce-related concerns such as property division, child custody, child support and alimony concerns. Divorce mediation can help couples reach a divorce settlement that also preserves the on-going relationship of the couple as parents.

Parenting time interference is a serious matter to the court

Nearly all parents who face the difficult task of sharing custody and parenting privileges find that it is difficult to follow their custody order or parenting plan to the letter all the time. If you and your child's other parent experience similar conflicts, rest assured that you are in the company of thousands or even millions of parents experiencing similar frustrations.

However, there is a difference between the occasional disruption and severe or ongoing behavior from one parent that obstructs the parental rights of the other. In some cases, the severity or repeated nature of the disruption warrants legal action.

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Susan Rossi Cook, Attorney and Mediator

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Franklin, MA 02038

Phone: 508-507-8742
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