Whether you’re anticipating a separation or contemplating divorce, you should know some key information regarding divorce in Massachusetts.
Reasons for Divorce
There are several permitted grounds for divorce under Massachusetts law. Traditional fault grounds—such as adultery or incarceration—as well as no-fault grounds, are justifiable means for divorce. No-fault grounds describe a faultless but irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.
Spousal support or alimony payments are the obligations of one spouse to support the other financially for a temporary or permanent basis. Not all divorce cases will involve spousal support ruling and is determined on a case-by-case basis.
A number of factors are taken into consideration when awarding alimony, including the length of the marriage, the conduct of the parties during the marriage, each spouse’s age, health, and ability to earn an income. The court may also consider the contribution of each party in the acquisition, preservation, or appreciation in the value of their respective estates. Each party’s contribution as a homemaker to the family unit will also be considered.
Child support guidelines are considered when determining the order of child support payments made by either spouse. The Percentage of Income formula is typically used as a Massachusetts child support guideline to calculate the support obligation. The number of children needing support, as well as each party’s income, plays a role in the allocation of child support payments. The courts also have the ability to deviate from traditional guidelines if ordered payments can be proved to be too burdensome.
Massachusetts courts strive to help lessen any emotional trauma children of divorcing parents may face. For this reason, parents are encouraged to come to their own custody agreements. However, in the event, no agreement can be made, the courts will decide based on what is in the child’s best interest.
Such factors include, but are not limited to, the cooperation of parties concerning child needs, abuses of alcohol or other drugs by either party, and whether the child has been deemed deserted by either party.
A shared custody implementation plan for shared legal or physical custody should be submitted to the court at the trial. The custody agreement will outline factors such as the child’s education and health care, procedures for resolving disputes between parents regarding child-raising decisions, and the periods of time during which each party will have the child, including holidays and vacations.
The division of property can be determined by the divorcing couple or left up to the court. A number of factors are taken into consideration when dividing marital property. Such factors include individual employability, occupation, and income, as well as the length of the marriage and spousal conduct.
Due to the many complexities of divorce, it is in your best interest to have your questions answered by highly-skilled attorneys who are well versed in Massachusetts divorce law. If you are considering divorce, call our office to speak with an attorney and to learn your options. Our team is here to help you through this trying time.