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How do Divorced Families Handle Holidays?

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Walsh Law Office, Hingham, MAThere are probably as many ways to handle holidays as there are divorced families. Ultimately the schedule that works for you will depend largely upon you and your child's other parent, and the type of co-parenting relationship that you have.

Some families handle holidays by alternating each holiday. It is quite common to allot one parent "even-year" holidays and the other "odd-year" holidays. Alternating holidays means that you must deal with your disappointment about not spending every holiday with your children, and must work with your extended family and friends to make plans for yourself on those holidays when you do not have your kids.

While some families alternate holidays, others choose to split time with the children on each holiday. In this option, both parents get to spend some time with their children on the actual holiday day. This option can work well when both parents’ families live in close proximity. For example, the kids may get to spend Thanksgiving at the maternal grandparents’ home in the early afternoon, and then have Thanksgiving dinner with their father’s family later in the day. This option is not ideal for families who must travel to visit relatives for the holidays as it is not conducive to extensive travel time.

Despite being divorced, some families actually choose to spend the holiday together with their children. For some parents, this can work. However, if there is even the slightest chance of negativity, hurt feelings, or "bad vibes" arising from such a holiday interaction, this may not be the right type of parenting arrangement for you.

For more information on parenting plans, the holidays and creating the best holiday parenting schedule for your family, contact Walsh Law.


Is Divorce Bad for Children?

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Walsh Law Office, Hingham, MAThe breakup may be painful, but most kids adjust well over time

Many of the 1.5 million children in the U.S. whose parents’ divorce every year feel as if their worlds are falling apart. Divorcing parents are usually very concerned about the welfare of their children during this troublesome process. Some parents are so worried that they remain in unhappy marriages, believing it will protect their offspring from the trauma of divorce.

Yet parents who split have reasons for hope. Researchers have found that only a relatively small percentage of children experience serious problems in the wake of divorce or, later, as adults. Below are the findings as well as factors that may protect children from the potentially harmful effects of divorce.

Rapid Recovery

Divorce affects most children in the short run, but research suggests that kids recover rapidly after the initial blow. In a 2002 study it was found that many children experience short-term negative effects from divorce, especially anxiety, anger, shock and disbelief. These reactions typically diminish or disappear by the end of the second year. Only a minority of kids suffer longer.

Most children of divorce also do well in the longer term. In a quantitative review of the literature in 2001, a researcher examined the possible effects on children several years after a divorce. The studies compared children of married parents with those who experienced divorce at different ages. The investigators followed these kids into later childhood, adolescence or the teenage years, assessing their academic achievement, emotional and behavior problems, delinquency, self-concept and social relationships. On average, the studies found only very small differences on all these measures between children of divorced parents and those from intact families, suggesting that the vast majority of children endure divorce well.

Researchers have consistently found that high levels of parental conflict during and after a divorce are associated with poorer adjustment in children. The effects of conflict before the separation, however, may be the reverse in some cases. Some children who are exposed to high levels of marital discord prior to divorce adjust better than children who experience low levels. Apparently when marital conflict is muted, children are often unprepared when told about the upcoming divorce. They are surprised, perhaps even terrified, by the news. In addition, children from high-discord families may experience the divorce as a welcome relief from their parents' fighting.

Taken together, the findings suggest that only a small percentage of young people experience divorce-related problems. Even here the causes of these lingering difficulties remain uncertain. Some troubles may arise from conflict between Mom and Dad associated with the divorce. The stress of the situation can also cause the quality of parenting to suffer. Divorce frequently contributes to depression, anxiety or substance abuse in one or both parents and may bring about difficulties in balancing work and child rearing. These problems can impair a parent's ability to offer children stability and love when they are most in need.

Grown-up Concerns

Scientific research does not support the view that problems in adulthood are prevalent; it instead demonstrates that most children of divorce become well-adjusted adults. For example, a 25-year study followed children of divorce and children of parents who stayed together. The researcher found that 25% of the adults whose parents had divorced experienced serious social, emotional or psychological troubles compared with 10% of those whose parents remained together. These findings suggest that only 15% of adult children of divorce experience problems over and above those from stable families. No one knows whether this difference is caused by the divorce itself or by variables, such as poorer parenting, that often accompany a marriage's dissolution.

The relationships of adults whose parents' marriages failed do tend to be somewhat more problematic than those of children from stable homes. For instance, people whose parents split when they were young experience more difficulty forming and sustaining intimate relationships as young adults, greater dissatisfaction with their marriages, a higher divorce rate and poorer relationships with the noncustodial father compared with adults from sustained marriages. On all other measures, differences between the two groups were small.

Bouncing Back

Children fare better if parents can limit conflict associated with the divorce process or minimize the child's exposure to it. Further, children who live in the custody of at least one well-functioning parent do better than those whose primary parent is doing poorly. In the latter situation, the maladjusted parent should seek professional help or consider limiting his or her time with the child. Parents can also support their children during this difficult time by talking to them clearly about the divorce and its implications and answering their questions fully.

Other, more general facets of good parenting can also buffer against divorce-related difficulties in children. Parents should provide warmth and emotional support, and they should closely monitor their children's activities. They should also deliver discipline that is neither overly permissive nor overly strict. Other factors contributing to children's adjustment include post-divorce economic stability and social support from peers and other adults, such as teachers.

In addition, certain characteristics of the child can influence his or her resilience. Children with an easygoing temperament tend to fare better. Coping styles also make a difference. For example, children who are good problem solvers and who seek social support are more resilient than those who rely on distraction and avoidance.

The good news is that although divorce is hard and often extremely painful for children, long-term harm is not inevitable. Most children bounce back and get through this difficult situation with few if any battle scars.

To speak with a divorce lawyer, contact Walsh Law.

Scientific American

Divorce and Retirement

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Walsh Law Office, Hyannis, MAEven if your divorce happens decades before you retire, your retirement savings will likely take a major hit. First, a divorce usually means that the funds in your retirement accounts are divided between yourself and your ex-spouse, so your retirement savings will shrink substantially. And second, divorce means that you'll at least temporarily become a one-income household -- so you'll probably end up saving a lot less for retirement than you had planned, at least in the near term.

Splitting your retirement savings

State and local laws determine how your retirement savings gets divvied up between you and your ex-spouse.

Massachusetts uses "equitable division” to figure out who owns what after a divorce. Under the concept of equitable division, it's up to the judge to decide the fairest way to split the divorcing couple’s assets, including retirement. Judges generally consider factors like how long the marriage lasted, each spouse’s contribution(s) to the marriage, age, health, and so on.

Protecting Your Retirement Savings

Given the way in which courts divide assets in a divorce, the question becomes how can you best protect your retirement savings? The surest way to protect your retirement savings is to set up a prenuptial agreement that specifies who gets what from the retirement accounts should your marriage end. If you don't have a prenup, your best bet is to try to come up with a compromise with your spouse that will work out to your mutual advantage. If you cannot reach an agreement with your spouse, having your lawyer make a compelling argument for the judge can help you to get a favorable decision in court, but it's definitely not a sure thing.

Building a new plan

Once you know how much of your existing retirement savings you'll get to hang on to, it's time to draft a new retirement plan. You'll need to factor in both the reduction of your existing savings and (most likely) the reduction of your future income. On the other hand, now that it's just you, you'll probably be able to set a lower goal for how much income you'll need in retirement.

For more information on divorce and retirement, contact Allison Walsh.


Dividing the Assets in Divorce

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Walsh Law Office, Hingham, MAIt might be the only thing the two sides in a divorce can easily agree on: it's no fun.

On top of the emotional toll, financial missteps during the process can leave you in far worse shape than you intended. And the more intertwined you and your spouse's finances are, the more closely you'll need to pay attention while untangling them.

Ideally, you'll have a divorce attorney and a financial advisor who are advocating for you. Nevertheless, experts say that even if you'd rather spend as little time as possible thinking about the divorce, it's worth making sure you understand the implications of all financial decisions being made.

You are your own best advocate.

If you are among those getting divorced, here are some financial mistakes to avoid.

1. Keeping a home you can no longer afford.

While staying put means one less change in the midst of an already life-altering event, it often makes little financial sense.

Unfortunately, many keep their homes not realizing that upkeep costs are no longer sustainable. There are now two households existing on the same income where previously there was only one.

2. Not considering the tax implications.

Not all financial accounts are taxed the same way.

For instance, if you get the 401(k) plan account worth $100,000 and your ex gets the checking account worth the same, you just got the raw end of the deal. Taking cash from the checking account incurs no tax, while any withdrawals from the 401(k) would be taxed as regular income to you. Most individuals forget to look at the complete cost of each asset, particularly the tax nature of each.

3. Not getting a court order to get your piece of the 401(k).

If your soon-to-be ex has a 401(k) plan, you must have what's called a qualified domestic relations order, or QDRO, to access your share. (Individual retirement accounts do not require a QDRO). This court order, which must get final approval from your retirement plan, marks one of the few times you can take money from a 401(k) without paying a 10 percent early withdrawal penalty. You will, however, pay income tax on the amount if you don't roll it over to an individual retirement account within 60 days.

For more information on dividing financial assets, contact Walsh Law.


Welcome to the Walsh Law Office Family Law Blog

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Walsh Law Office, Hingham, MAWelcome to the Walsh Law Office Family Law blog. Here you will find out about the latest in Family Law, including information about Divorce, Child Custody, Alimony and more. These articles and posts will discuss changes in the law and in Massachusetts legislation, as well as more general information that you may find helpful.

Walsh Law Office is a Law Firm based in Hingham with a satellite office in Hyannis. We offer the highest quality legal services to families and individuals South of Boston and across the Cape.

Walsh Law Office is focused on all areas of matrimonial and family law, regularly representing clients in divorce, custody, support, modification and contempt proceedings, as well as in adoption, guardianship of minors and grandparent visitation cases.

For more for assistance on any aspect of Family Law, contact Walsh Law Office.

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