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.

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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

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Supreme Court to hear case on international custody rights

Child custody actions are among the most contentious and emotionally charged types of cases heard by family courts, in Massachusetts and elsewhere. When those cases involve an international custody rights twist, the legalities become far more complicated, and many would argue that the stakes are higher for the parent who faces being left behind when a child relocates abroad. One such case is now before the U.S. Supreme Court, and the outcome will clarify the ability of courts in our country to hear appeals in cases in which the child is no longer on American soil. The case centers on an American father who is a member of the U.S. Army. He met and married a Scottish woman, and the two had a daughter together. Their marriage has a troubled history, and they are moving toward a divorce. They have also been struggling in court over the care and custody of their little girl. In Oct. 2011, a judge ruled that the child be returned to her mother’s care in Scotland. The father had asked that he retain custody of the child in the U.S., but the court ruled that he failed to prove that the child was a habitual resident of the United States. The father appealed that decision, but his appeal was dismissed on the grounds that the U.S. courts lack the ability to rule on an appeal that was entered after the child has left the country. As this case moves forward, the Supreme Court will consider

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Same-sex marriage an issue in ‘Pregnant Man’ divorce

Many in Massachusetts may recall the nationwide coverage of a transgender man who has given birth to three children with his wife of nine years. The couple is now facing a divorce proceeding. Their divorce, however, requires the court to ponder issues of gender identity, and the couple now find themselves embroiled within the current controversy over gay marriage and divorce. The husband in this case was born female, but has undergone extensive surgery over the years, including a recent “final female-to-male gender reassignment surgery” which took place after the couple separated. He went through the legal process to have the state authorize his sex change, and obtained the required documentation prior to the couple’s 2003 wedding. He has also had his birth certificate and passport reissued to identify him as a male. When the couple split, the husband was granted temporary full custody over their three children after he showed video of his wife attacking him. The two are ready to move forward with their divorce proceeding, but have hit a bump in the courts. Despite all of his efforts to establish himself as a man, the judge who is presiding over the case has expressed doubt concerning how to proceed, and is still deliberating about the issue. This case will likely make new headlines in Massachusetts once the court determines how to proceed with the divorce filing. Same-sex marriage is not legal in the state in which the couple resides. Therefore, if the judge deems that the husband

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Another high net-worth divorce on the horzion

Divorce can be a complex affair, in Massachusetts and across the country. Actress Laurie Metcalf and her actor-husband, Matt Roth are about to confront a number of important matrimonial issues between them. Roth filed for divorce on September 12 after a six-year marriage, citing irreconcilable differences. One important issue in this high net-worth divorce may be child custody, as Roth has requested joint physical and legal custody of the couple’s three children. The former “Roseanne” star has many movie credits, as well as three Emmy Awards. She has also appeared on “The Big Bang Theory” and “Desperate Housewives.” Roth has most recently starred in the new television series “Private Practice,” with other notable appearances to his name as well. Although it is always unfortunate to hear about a couple seeking a divorce, it should also be put into perspective. Current statistics continue to show that more than half of all marriages result in divorce, and there is no shame in ending a broken marriage. There are times when a couple simply realizes they cannot live together any longer. Instead of living together in dissonance, they choose to make the move towards a formal dissolution of their marriage and a division of their marital property. Often, high net worth divorces make headlines, as they involve extraordinary sums of money or property. A Massachusetts attorney experienced in all aspects of divorce law, including complex property division and tax considerations, may assist in protecting legal rights and fighting for a fair and equitable

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