Out of State Child Support Modification

Child Support and Out-of-State Issues Whether one parent is living just over the Massachusetts border in New Hampshire but still commutes to Boston every day, or whether the one parent is living on the West Coast while the children live with the other on the South Shore, issues of state jurisdiction may come into play when seeking to modify a Massachusetts child support agreement. Changing Circumstances, Modifying Orders In Massachusetts, child support is governed either by temporary orders or by final judgments. Temporary orders govern the terms of child support while there is still open legal action in process to establish a final judgement. The term “final judgment” is something of a misnomer. “Final” does not mean that the judgement can never be altered again. A child support final judgment may be renegotiated in the future. This can be done with the agreement of both parents, or one parent may file a complaint for modification if certain conditions are met. The conditions under which one parent can file a complaint for modification to a child support final judgement include: • Changes to the gross income of either or both parents • Unavailability of previously ordered health coverage, either because of job loss or unduly burdensome cost increases • New availability of health care coverage through a parent • Any other material and substantial change in circumstances What to Do When One Parent Lives in a Different State When one parent lives out of state, modifying and enforcing a child support judgment

Read More »

Co-parenting in the Face of Coronavirus

Amid the spread of COVID-19, we are all facing unprecedented times. As this pandemic continues, regulations regarding safe practices change daily. One thing on the mind of parents sharing custody is whether or not their court order is enforceable. Rest assured, custody, visitation, and placement are in effect and continue to be enforceable during this period of time. Court-ordered arrangements remain obligatory and should be followed accordingly. Any parent planning to use the pandemic as a reason to deny access to another parent can expect the courts to come down hard on parent agreement violations. Many judges view time of crisis to be particularly critical times for children to maintain some form of normality. In cases where parents are willing to work together, they should consider the following: which parent has better resources for the child to complete distance learning, if one parent has a high-risk job, the health of family members, social distancing rules, etc. In the unfortunate event that a parent is required to self-quarantine or is restricted from having contact with others, efforts should be made to allow for parenting time by video conference or telephone. A critical aspect of co-parenting that may be affected is where the exchange of children takes place. For some parents, the changeover occurs at school. However, if the school is no longer in session, a new location and time will need to be agreed upon. If the exchange is not possible from someone’s home, it’s suggested to find a public place

Read More »

My Kids Hate the Custody Arrangement – What Can I Do to Make Their Voices Heard?

Even in the best of circumstances, divorce can be difficult for children. Children are often resistant to change: adapting to new schedules and surroundings, learning to live with one parent at a time, and getting along with possible new stepsiblings or half-siblings are all big changes, ones which can challenge a child’s developing social skills and coping mechanisms. However, many, if not most, children with divorced parents eventually adapt and thrive, growing into healthy and well-adjusted adults. There are cases, however, where a child’s discomfort with a custody arrangement goes beyond natural resistance to change, beyond the fairly standard complaints of “I don’t like it here” or “I like dad’s house better.” Perhaps there is serious, ongoing, and frequent conflict between the child and one of the custodial parents, a conflict that makes living with that parent a deeply anxious situation for the child. Perhaps the conflict is with a stepparent or stepsibling and a child’s grades are dropping as a result of the distress. Conflict and negative situations are not the only reason to consider modifying a custody agreement, however. Perhaps, at the other end of the spectrum, a mom can now spend more time with her children because of a promotion that allows her more control over her schedule. Or perhaps a ten-year-old custody agreement no longer works for a fledgling teenager because she prefers to live at her mom’s house as it is considerably closer to her new high school than dad’s, allowing her to participate in

Read More »

Holiday Custody

The winter holidays may be the most wonderful time of the year, but they are also a top contender for the most stressful time of the year. Regardless of family structure, holiday gatherings and visits can be contentious. Under the stress of cleaning and cooking and visiting in-laws, even close-knit nuclear families, amicably divorced co-parents, or happily mixed step-families might experience some tension and conflict around this time of the year. Given the stress of preparing for holidays, and the emotions invested in family celebrations, it is more important than ever for there to be good channels of communication about scheduling. When child custody agreements are involved, communication is even more important, especially if custody arrangements or their enforcement have been contentious issues in the past. Many shared custody agreements drawn up as part of the divorce settlements will specify holiday visitation and custody rights for each parent. For example, one parent may have the children for Thanksgiving and New Year’s, with the other parent having Christmas and the surrounding days. In the next year, the parents might swap time periods, following an alternating schedule laid out in the custody agreement. Changes happen, however. A flight back from a visit to grandma might be delayed by snow. A family wedding might be scheduled for the days after Christmas. A teenager with a mind of her own might want to go to a friend’s cookie-decorating party close to mom’s house an hour away, even though dad has custody for that date.

Read More »

How do courts determine if relocation of a child to another state during a divorce is acceptable?

In situations where a custodial parent wishes to relocate with a child, the court will determine whether child custody relocation is in the best interests of the child. While a parent is free to relocate out of state themselves without the child or with the permission of the other parent to take the child, the state of Massachusetts requires a judge ruling regarding relocation contested by a parent. Depending on the current custody agreement, the judge has two different processes for determining if relocation is in the child’s best interest. For joint or shared custody the judge will take into account the following: Whether or not the quality of the child’s life will be improved and if the child will endure similar benefits as the parent from the move. Adverse effects of altering visitation schedule and the extent to which the child’s relationship to the non-moving parent will be compromised. How the child’s emotional, physical, or developmental needs will be impacted by moving or not moving. If there is a way to create a new visitation order to allow the non-relocating parent to maintain a close and enduring bond with the child. In the event a parent with primary custody is requesting relocation, the judge will apply what is known as the “real advantage” standard as the child’s well-being is more closely intertwined with the parent’s welfare in these situations. In this case, the judge will examine evidence of economic benefits, availability of extended family, and the desire to relocate

Read More »

The holidays can lead to co-parenting challenges

When families are divided by separation or divorce, parents often struggle over the care and custody of their children. Many custody issues will be worked out during the divorce or child custody proceedings, but reaching an agreement does not always mean that the terms will remain acceptable over time. The holidays often bring out or heighten existing disputes over custody, and can lead Massachusetts parents to struggle and fight over custody rights as they pertain to holiday celebrations. There are a number of ways to handle the holidays when multiple families are involved. In the most cooperative of cases, families are able to celebrate at least part of the holiday together, in much the same way that holidays were handled while the family was intact. This can even include the participation of both extended families. This type of arrangement, however, is rare. More often, the holidays will be divided between parties, with children shuttled back and forth between multiple households. This can be a stressful time for children, and can alter the way that they feel about the holiday season. Parents should try to work together to determine a holiday schedule that puts the needs of the child or children at the forefront. Unfortunately, in many cases existing tensions and old resentments between parents prevent this type of collaborative approach. In such circumstances, it may be advisable to approach a family court to have the holiday schedule determined or augmented. Courts in Massachusetts and elsewhere are willing to consider custody

Read More »

Technology can lead to challenges to fathers’ rights

With the advent of ever more sophisticated forms of technology, keeping in touch has never been easier. Whether you use email, text messaging, online scheduling or social media, staying in touch takes far different forms today than in years past. For Massachusetts couples who divorce or separate, issues of child custody can be made much smoother by choosing a remote form of communication, especially when parents cannot get along in person. However, when one parent chooses to use technology as a weapon, it can cause significant problems for the relationship between the child and the other parent. Many who support fathers’ rights see potential problems with relying on technology to have access to one’s child. A recent study looked into the ways that divorced couples use technology in regard to child custody issues. Researchers discovered that when former spouses maintained a positive relationship, technology was used to facilitate custody exchanges, keep both parents in the loop regarding the child’s activities, and make sure that both parents stayed on the same page in regard to the kids’ schedules. However, when parents did not enjoy an amicable relationship, technology was often used by one parent to limit the other’s access to the child. By simply avoiding answering text messages and email, some parents seek to limit the amount of time that the other parent has with the child. In some cases, parents admitted to pretending that they never received email. This type of behavior not only brings further tension between the parents,

Read More »

Shared custody concern: No one-size-fits-all solution

When Massachusetts parents file for divorce, the primary issue on the table becomes child custody. Those who practice family law assert that child custody cases are among the most highly contentious and contested form of law. Even among couples who have little interest in arguing over issues such as the division of marital property, when it comes to issues surrounding their children, the gloves come off. Some opt for some form of shared custody in an attempt to gain equal parenting time with their children. However, the concept of shared or equal custody is not universally accepted among those who practice or are involved in family law. When it comes to the debate about whether such a practice should be statutorily mandated, many in the profession object. One point of view asserts that there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all divorce, not should child custody issues be handled in a standardized manner. Each family is unique, and the skills and abilities that each parent brings to the table are also disparate. In the majority of scenarios, it would be far better for the child or children involved to remain in the primary care of the parent best suited to provide for their needs, both financially and emotionally. In addition, in cases in which there are questions of substance abuse, instability or physical or psychological abuse, shared or equal custody just doesn’t make sense. While most states have not embraced the concept of mandatory joint or shared custody, there is

Read More »
Ask a question…
close slider

Life Complicated?
We Can Help

Fill out the form below and tell us your story.

Call Now Button