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Concerns about retirement and divorce

Some Massachusetts couples who are considering divorce might be worried about the impact a split can have on their retirement plan. This might be particularly concerning for spouses who have significantly less savings for their retirement than their ex-partner or who were depending on their spouse for retirement benefits. However, while retirement plans might need to change once a divorce is final, there is a way to ensure some of those savings are protected and waiting after the divorce.

During divorce, spouses can look at two ways they can protect or keep some retirement benefits. One is through their existing retirement accounts, and another is through Social Security. While working spouses with similar amounts in their retirement accounts can simply keep their accounts separate, for spouses with differences, there can be negotiation during the property division stage. For example, a spouse with less savings might negotiate to keep some of the savings acquired during the marriage through a qualified domestic relations order, also known as a QDRO. This order allows a spouse to transfer retirement savings to their ex.

USDA urges states to enforce SNAP child support rules

Food stamp programs in Massachusetts and around the country help almost 40 million people to meet their nutritional needs, and many of the most vulnerable recipients are children. A debate is currently underway about rules that would deny access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to custodial and noncustodial parents who do not cooperate with agencies that administer and enforce child support. The issue is an important one because more than a third of the American children who live with only one parent live in conditions of poverty.

The federal Food and Nutrition Act and SNAP regulations allow states to deny food stamps to parents who refuse to work with child support agreements, but only a handful of states have chosen to enforce these provisions. In a May 1 memorandum, the U.S. Department of Agriculture urged SNAP program administrators across the country to revisit this issue and enforce the child support regulations.

Avoid these 4 social media posts during your divorce

When you are with your friends or family members, snapping a photograph to upload to social media can be tempting. After all, social media platforms provide an effective way to keep in touch with both loved ones and strangers. 

Social media seems to be everywhere these days. In fact, according to estimates, roughly 80% of Americans use some type of social media to document their everyday lives. While there is nothing inherently wrong with using social media, you must understand how your posts may affect your divorce. Here are four social media posts you should avoid: 

Co-parenting mistakes to avoid with teens

After a divorce, some Massachusetts parents may struggle to raise their kids. When their children reach their teen years, they might be tempted to take a more hands-off approach, reasoning that their teens are mature enough that they do not need to communicate as frequently with the other parent. However, this can be a mistake. Teens still need guidance, and they need their divorced parents to keep talking to one another.

Typical errors among parents of children in this age group include assuming that the teen will share necessary information with the other parent and that the teen behaves the same way with both parents. The former assumption gives the teen a great deal of power. The latter assumption can mean that teens are not getting the support they may need from both parents. Another potentially harmful assumption is that one parent knows the teen's friends and there is no need for the other parent to make time for this as well.

How parents can deal with divorce

Divorce can be quite challenging when the married couple has young children. However, it's generally better to divorce than to stay together for the kids in cases where the marriage causes conflict. It's not the divorce per se that hurts the kids; it's the conflict. For parents considering divorce in Massachusetts, there are some things to keep in mind. Divorce is a difficult transition for everyone, but dealing with big changes can have a positive effect on a child by making him or her more resilient.

Parents should maintain consistency where they can. For example, it may be wise to keep the children in the same schools. Allowing the kids as much choice as possible can also be helpful. Children tend to blame themselves for marital separations. Therefore, it's very important to let the kids know it is not their fault.

Protecting a credit score during divorce

Some Massachusetts estranged couples may find that after a divorce, their credit rating suffers. This is not because of the process itself but may happen as a result of joint accounts. In some cases, it could also be because it is not uncommon for people to struggle financially after their marriage ends.

One problem is that regardless of what the divorce decree says, creditors will pursue people if a debt is in their name. This means that even if a couple agrees to split a debt that is in both names, if one does not pay, this could hurt the credit of both people. In order to protect themselves, people should remove spouses as authorized users on accounts and work together to close joint accounts. This could mean selling some jointly owned assets and using the proceeds to pay off the debts associated with them. Couples might agree to refinance a mortgage if one is going to keep the home. People should also monitor their credit reports.

Do courts divide student loan debt in divorce?

There are many assets to divide in a divorce. From child custody to alimony, most spouses know how to prepare accordingly. However, many couples overlook one important asset when heading into divorce: Debt. 

These days, many people have student loan debt. It is the most pervasive form of debt for millennials, and in a divorce, one spouse could have to help pay off the other spouse's debt. One important court case for dividing student loan debt was in 2018. In the case, a judge ordered the husband to send the wife money every month to help pay off her student loans. There are important considerations to make with this case, such as the fact that the husband had paid off his student loans while the wife still struggled. Every divorce is different, but it is vital to prepare for the scenario where one spouse still has to help the other with debt

Divorce practicalities after the decree is final

In many cases, finalizing a divorce in Massachusetts is just the first step to completing the property division process. While spouses and their attorneys may have negotiated long and hard to reach a settlement, the final divorce decree does not complete the task of actually dividing the marital assets. Instead, both spouses will need to take action.

In many cases, a freeze is in effect over marital assets while the divorce is pending to prevent one spouse from confiscating joint assets. After that freeze is lifted, it is time to actually divide those assets. Joint bank accounts will need to be closed and the account divided as agreed upon into each spouse's individual account. For property with a title, it will need to be retitled as agreed in the name of the spouse who will keep the property. This includes motor vehicles like cars and boats as well as major assets like the marital home. If one spouse will keep the home, the other spouse will need to disclaim interest through a quit claim deed. In most cases, the remaining spouse will also need to refinance the mortgage as the sole owner.

Tips for parents who are no longer together

Parents who are going through the divorce process in Massachusetts may be worried about what their lives will look like after the separation. However, divorce can also have an impact on any children that a couple may have. Therefore, it's important that parents are able to work together to ensure that their kids are able to adjust to their new reality. One way to do that is to be consistent.

Regardless of where a child is staying, he or she should be subject to the same rules and the same consequences for breaking those rules. Parents should also strive to be honest with their kids about why the divorce took place. Of course, the information given should be age appropriate and not used to cast blame on the other parent for causing the marriage to end. Parents themselves should also be able to communicate with each other.

Uncovering cryptocurrency during a divorce

Most divorces in Massachusetts include some negotiating, if not downright battling, over how money and other assets will be divided after the divorce. Cryptocurrency is changing the way that these negotiations take place. Part of this change is due to the nature of cryptocurrency.

These currencies are encrypted and move around in a largely unregulated market. This makes finding a divorcing individual's cryptocurrency investments, as well as determining the value of these investments, difficult. As a result, divorces involving large amounts of cryptocurrency assets have become more complicated and take longer.

  • CA State Bar Association
  • MA Bar Association
  • Essex County Bar Association
  • Salem Bar Association
  • Women's Bar Association
  • Avvo

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