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Co-Parenting Holiday Survival Guide

By Damian Turco, Newburyport.Com Correspondent
Principal Attorney and Owner of Turco Legal, Attorney Turco is highly regarded as an expert in the areas of divorce and family law. He has represented hundreds of clients through divorces, modifications, contempt matters, and other family law matters from beginning to end. He sits on multiple committees for the Mass Bar Association, has been recognized by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly as one of the state’s upcoming top 25 lawyers of 2015. Attorney Turco’s donates considerable time to help within the community. He serves on the board of LARC, a legal non-profit that helps thousands of lower income folks get desperately needed legal help. He also volunteers his time monthly delivering legal assistance at homeless shelters, day shelters, and soup kitchen’s in Boston, Lowell, Lawrence, and Salem.
Turco Legal
co-parenting tips from Turco Legal, Newburyport

Co-parenting through the holidays can be easy or frustrating and Halloween is no exception. The reality is, some parents can’t put their children’s need before their own interest in making the other parent’s life difficult.  While that’s unfortunate, the good news is that by following these simple co-parenting steps, you’ll greatly reduce or eliminate any such effort of the other parent.

 

  1. Don’t Go Looking for Conflict. While it takes two parents to cooperate, it only takes one to cause problems.  Don’t be that parent unless you want problems yourself.  It’s true you can’t control the behavior of the other parent, but you can control your own.  Halloween is about the children.  It’s all about the kids enjoying a once-a-year experience in which they can pretend to be someone or something else, while reaping in loads of candy.  Don’t sour their experience with your own selfishness.  Keep your own behavior in check and don’t cause unnecessary conflict.
  1. Read Your Parenting Plan. Every separation agreement involving minor children or custody agreement when the parents weren’t married, includes some sort of parenting plan, which hopefully includes a parenting schedule.  The agreement should be clear about when you have the kids and when the other parent has the kids.  Even better – many agreements have provisions regarding holidays, sometimes including Halloween.  So, if you anticipate conflict around Halloween, you should read and understand the agreement before you encounter any trouble.  If the agreement is vague or requires that you work things out, I suggest you do so diplomatically and well in advance, only after understanding what is required of the agreement and current court order.
  1. Don’t Involve the Kids Until the Parents Work Out the Specifics. A recurring fact pattern we see involving the holidays is that one parent will not only fail to review the agreement, but he or she will enter into elaborate planning discussions with the children about what to do during the holiday.  For instance, a parent who does not have the children for Halloween this year may start the discussion about going trick-or-treating with that parent’s friends and their kids. If that plan is of interest to the children, they’ll get excited and then disappointed when they learn that parent doesn’t have them for the holiday.  The better practice is to finalize and/or confirm planning with the other parent well in advance so the children’s expectations aren’t messed with.
  1. Give the Other Parent Time with Kids if they Want It. Sometimes it’s important to both parents to spend meaningful time with the kids on Halloween.  Perhaps there has been some sort of family tradition around the holiday.  While such an event is best set forth in the separation agreement so as to avoid conflict later, if that step was skipped, do the right thing and cooperate with your co-parent so the kids don’t lose out.
  1. Make Halloween (and every holiday) Fun. It’s your turn with the kids on Halloween and it’s your time to shine . . . or dress up like Frankenstein’s monster.  Whatever you do, make it fun for the kids.  They are only children once and these are the opportunities to create lifelong memories.  Make their holiday special and contribute to a feeling of love and appreciation in all aspects of their lives.

We hope you found these co-parenting tips helpful. For more interesting and informative articles by Damian Turco, please visit http://turcolegal.com 

Trends in Massachusetts Divorce Law: Equality and Structure

By Damian Turco, Newburyport.Com Correspondent
Principal Attorney and Owner of Turco Legal, Attorney Turco is highly regarded as an expert in the areas of divorce and family law. He has represented hundreds of clients through divorces, modifications, contempt matters, and other family law matters from beginning to end. He sits on multiple committees for the Mass Bar Association, has been recognized by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly as one of the state’s upcoming top 25 lawyers of 2015. Attorney Turco’s donates considerable time to help within the community. He serves on the board of LARC, a legal non-profit that helps thousands of lower income folks get desperately needed legal help. He also volunteers his time monthly delivering legal assistance at homeless shelters, day shelters, and soup kitchen’s in Boston, Lowell, Lawrence, and Salem.
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Turco Legal, Divorce Law Trends, Newburyport MA

Divorce law trends are moving in a direction of equality and structure. Divorce may seem like a modern issue.  That is, it sometimes seems like one of those problems with society that’s far worse now than it used to be.  Perhaps that’s because it’s the type of thing that nobody seems to discuss until it’s happening to them, especially not in a tight community like Newburyport.  Or maybe because it is consistently ranked as one of the greatest challenges one may face in his or her lifetime.  Who wants to talk about that?

Actually, despite it not being talked about much, it’s been an important and impactful part of society since shortly after the existence of marriage.  Its prevalence has fluctuated over the thousands of years of recorded history and the trend has largely followed the influence of religion on government and society generally.

While there is disparity around the world as to the popularity of divorce, it is clear that in Massachusetts, like most states, the law is trending from what we would consider traditional to a system of equality and structure.  Here’s how the main issues in divorce are treated in Massachusetts and are trending nationally today.

“Child custody” is still the terminology used in Massachusetts, but many states have done away with it, instead opting for more neutral terms such as “time sharing”, reflecting a growing national view of co-parenting that makes it a point to not characterize children as property or either parent as the “primary” one.  While most divorces with children still result in one parent having about a third of the time and the other having two thirds, there are more judgments granting equal time between parents than ever.  Family Law Judges in Massachusetts continue to have broad discretion in fashioning parenting schedules, so putting the relevant facts about ones case into evidence is just as critical as ever.

Child support is treated as a statutory calculation, considering the income of the parties, the parenting schedule, employment-related child care, and health insurance in nearly every state.  While there is not much movement nationally on this issue, every state periodically adjusts the guidelines figures, so the amount set for child support tends to go up over time.

Alimony is perhaps the most inconsistently treated issue across the country, recently having been overhauled in Massachusetts in 2011.  While some states have actually done away with permanent alimony altogether, Massachusetts has added more structure and limitation into the law.  Permanent alimony is now generally only available in Massachusetts when the marriage lasted over 20 years, with shorter term types of alimony are more tailored to the situation.  Generally, the longer you’ve been married, the longer the alimony is likely available, if available at all.

Property division is unique in Massachusetts, with judges having more discretion than in most other states.  That’s because in Massachusetts all property is part of the marital estate subject to division by the court including premarital property, gifts, and inheritances.  Many states carve these types of assets out of the marital estate, but in Massachusetts we give judge’s more authority to determine an equitable or fair result.

Massachusetts divorce law is quite sophisticated.  We live in a community of highly intelligent, hardworking, family-focused individuals who for many can’t avoid the realty of the breakdown of a marriage.  There will always be an element of loss associated with divorce and that comes with a grieving period.  But, when properly educated on divorce law and with the right counsel and support, more parties can and do move on to a better life.  So, if you’re facing divorce and living in our community, don’t be afraid of the issues.  While you may not want to discuss it over drinks at Adiamo’s or while the kids circle you at Gelato, there are plenty of Newburyport divorce lawyers, including me, who will help you through the process.

 

Plum Island Pink House

By Damian Turco, Newburyport.Com Correspondent
Principal Attorney and Owner of Turco Legal, Attorney Turco is highly regarded as an expert in the areas of divorce and family law. He has represented hundreds of clients through divorces, modifications, contempt matters, and other family law matters from beginning to end. He sits on multiple committees for the Mass Bar Association, has been recognized by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly as one of the state’s upcoming top 25 lawyers of 2015. Attorney Turco’s donates considerable time to help within the community. He serves on the board of LARC, a legal non-profit that helps thousands of lower income folks get desperately needed legal help. He also volunteers his time monthly delivering legal assistance at homeless shelters, day shelters, and soup kitchen’s in Boston, Lowell, Lawrence, and Salem.
Turco Legal
Plum Island Pink House, Newburyport MA by Damian Turco

How many times have you driven past that old pink house on your way out to Plum Island and wondered what it’s all about?  There’s something about that house that just sets the tone as it whisks by the car.  It’s kind of eerie looking.  Kind of beat up by the weather over the years.  It certainly seems like it’s in an odd place.  I used to live out on the island and like many of us, still frequent the great natural space out there.  That house just seems to catch my eye every time I come around that bend.  Is it the remnant of a lovely estate?  Maybe a millionaire who just had to be by the airport but not too far from the beach?

Nope.  It turns out, as I never would have imagined, that the only thing it’s a remnant of is a spiteful divorce from 1925!  What??  How is that possible?  But it is as I learned from Amanda Hoover’s Boston.com article this morning.  And as a Newburyport divorce lawyer, I must say, I’m intrigued.  As Amanda’s story explained, the house is the centerpiece of a poorly drafted divorce separation agreement which required the Husband to build the Wife with an exactly replica of their downtown Newburyport marital home.  The only problems is that the agreement didn’t say where it had to be built. . . oops.  Read more about this story and why good drafting is critical in any divorce here on my Newburport Divorce Blog.

Photo by Karen Lynch.

 

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