Divorce and other breakups are tough, especially when there are children involved.  For children, there is grief, fear, loss, sadness and confusion.  Want to do right by your children and make the best of a difficult situation?

  • Shield and protect your children from adult matters such as finances, division of property or who is at fault in the breakup.  Your children deserve to have a happy and healthy childhood; an important part of that is their relationship with their parents. Your friends, family, therapist or other adults should be your sounding board, not your children. 
  • Reality check!  Going through a divorce or break-up can be a long, difficult and emotionally taxing process.  Take time to take care of yourself, while realizing that this too shall pass.  Do your best not to allow the months it could take to address and resolve your divorce take away from the years you have with your child.
  • In an age-appropriate manner and notwithstanding the above, involve the children in matters that affect them to the extent that you and your co-parent agree.  Give your child a calendar so that they can see when they are at each parent’s home.  Help them choose gifts and/or cards to give to their other parent for special occasions.  Let them feel important and a part of things. 
  • Let the children know that parents are forever.  Help them understand that the adults may be ending their relationship, but not the relationship between the children and their parents.  You may not be spouses or significant others anymore, but you will always be co-parents. Do your best to have a united front with your co-parent; even with difficult matters, such as discipline.  Your child, although they may not be willing to admit it, will be comforted and reassured that you’re working together for your child’s best interest. 
  • Respect your co-parent.  Forgiveness can be powerful; blame, negativity and/or bitterness has no place in how you and your co-parent effectively raise your children.  Be cognizant of the reality that you choose this person to be your child’s parent and respect their role in your child’s life. Children can benefit from having two different, but very important, people in their life. 
  • Reassure your children.  Let them know their feelings of grief, fear, loss, sadness and confusion are normal.   Understand that you’re all working through a “new normal” and you’ll have new schedules, traditions and celebrations. If appropriate, provide an opportunity for therapeutic assistance (for yourself as well as your children).
  • Communicate with your co-parent.  Take the high road, regardless of the path your co-parent has chosen.  Rise above adult conflicts and continue to parent your children the best you can.  In tense or emotional situations, do not be reactive.  Take a deep breath and honestly assess your thoughts and potential response.  How would you want this issue to be handled if the shoe was on the other foot? How would you have handled this issue if you were an intact family? Put the children first.

We at Ryan Faenza Carey believe that children should come first; it’s imperative that children have a positive, healthy childhood regardless of their family dynamics.  Be the best you can be, your children are counting on you.     

There are many divorce attorneys and firms who like to define themselves as specializing in representing “men” or representing “women” in particular. Over the years, divorce has become more gender neutral, although not completely gender neutral.  “Parenting” has replaced the traditional notions of “custody” and “visitation,” recognizing the importance of both parents.  Recent significant changes in both the alimony and child support laws have resulted in more gender neutral treatment in these areas (i.e. alimony and child support orders received by both men and women).  

So do you need a “divorce attorney for men” or a “divorce attorney for women”?

We at Ryan Faenza Carey believe the selection of an attorney to represent you in a divorce is an important one, and that there are many considerations more important than gender.  Experience, professionalism, and high rate of settlement are all important considerations in selecting an attorney.  It is critical that you feel trust and confidence in your attorney, and that you are able to communicate with him or her.  Over the decades, our firm has represented roughly equal numbers of men and women in divorce and family law matters.  We believe this broad base of clientele allows us to be strong advocates for both men and women, resulting in a meaningful resolution in most cases.

Decide for yourself. Call us for a consultation.

The dog days of summer will soon come to an end and children will return to school. Some will even transition to college in the fall or begin filling out college applications.  Even for parents whose children are young, the thought of college brings excitement, along with anxiety about how they will cover the costs of college.

Any parent is weighing these questions about college expenses:

  • Should the adult child have skin in the game and take on debt to pay a portion, or all of the cost?
  • Did the parents or family members contribute to college savings funds for the child?
  • Should the parents commit to taking on student loans for their child?
  • How are college expenses defined?
  • Do college expenses include college visits, college application fees, admission fees, and travel to and from school?

These questions are further complicated for parents with children of all ages who are going through a divorce. Here’s what you need to know about your rights as a parent with respect to your adult children’s college expenses.

A judge will help determine how to split costs of education in a divorce

In Massachusetts, a parent’s obligation to contribute to college expenses is not presumptive but is left to the discretion of the judge. The Court considers a series of factors in determining whether a parent must financially contribute to their children’s education. These factors include the cost of the college or university, the child’s aptitudes, the child’s living situation, the available resources of the parents and child, the availability of financial aid, and other relevant factors.

There are limits on the amount you can be ordered to pay

Under the Massachusetts’ Child Support Guidelines, no parent shall be ordered to pay college costs in an amount greater than 50% of the undergraduate, in-state resident costs of University of Massachusetts Amherst, unless the Court enters written findings that a parent has the ability to pay a higher amount. The Guidelines define “costs” as mandatory fees, tuition, and room and board for UMass Amherst, as set out in the “Published Annual College Costs Before Financial Aid” in the College Board’s Annual Survey of Colleges. The Guidelines’ limitation on payment of college expenses is recommended for most cases, but not mandatory.

College expenses can impact other factors in the child support agreement

A parent’s child support obligation may be reduced or terminated when paying for the adult child’s college expenses. However, it is also possible for a parent to pay child support in addition to paying for the adult child’s college expenses.

Whether a parent will have to pay for his or her children’s college expenses varies on a case-by-case basis.

Divorce is complicated- especially with children in the mix, and particularly when college is on the horizon! If you are a parent and involved in any legal matters involving custody and child support it is important that you speak with an attorney who specializes in the field of domestic relations law to ensure that all of your rights are preserved. Contact RFC today for help!

Massachusetts Courts have taken pains to see that children of unwed parents and married parents, at least theoretically, are treated alike; and that children of unwed parents should be entitled to the same rights and protections as children of married parents. Here are some of the legal boundaries that maintain equality for unmarried parents in Massachusetts law:

Unmarried parents have rights to see their children, and obligations to support them. Child support obligations can be retroactive to the date of the child’s birth. The Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines apply to children of unwed parents in the same way they apply to children of married parents.

  • Unmarried parents have rights to seek, or obligations to provide, health insurance for their children, and to pay uninsured health expenses for them.
  • Unmarried parents may be obligated to provide (or seek for their co-parent to provide) life insurance to secure child support and other child related obligations.
  • The Court has the authority to make orders concerning custody and parenting of children of unwed parents.
  • The Court has the right to enter orders concerning payment of college or extracurricular activities.
  • Children of unwed parents are entitled to receive a share of their parent’s estate if there is no Will or other estate plan in place.
  • Curious about the rights or obligations of yourself or a co-parent? Ryan Faenza Carey is here to help you navigate the law in the best interests of your child(ren). Contact us today.

Dealing with divorce and protecting your children at the same time

It is not uncommon for a divorced or divorcing individual at some point in his or her life, either during or after divorce, to try and “erase” the past and start again; to pretend that the past hasn’t happened and try to chart out a new course for the future avoiding history as it occurred. In circumstances where no children are involved, this new course or direction may occur without too much collateral damage; however, if children are involved, it can be devastating.

Sometimes, a parent can actually take this effort too far, in the process emotionally or physically distancing him/herself from a child as well. That parent may stop seeing or being as involved in the life of their child(ren), and oftentimes financially withdraws support for them as well. For parents who had previously been involved in the child’s life, that can cause incredible trauma. This is a heartbreaking situation for everyone—the departing parent, the available parent who must try to compensate, but especially for the child who will bear the scars and endure this heartbreak for the rest of his or her life.

Here’s the bottom line: The decision to be a parent is permanent and irrevocable. The decision to have a child carries with it multiple responsibilities, not the least of which is providing love, emotional support, financial support and guidance to the child. These responsibilities are not something which a parent can later “undo” or “quit”—parenting is forever.

All parents matter, and the best interests of the child should be considered paramount.   The responsibilities of parenting should be borne by the adults who brought the child into the world, and not by the innocent child. If you find yourself struggling with divorce to the detriment of your child(ren), there are many resources you can seek including counseling to help avoid long-standing emotional harm on your family.