Know Your Rights
Divorce is a civil action. It is between two individuals: you and your spouse. You both have divorce rights in the action. The biggest mistake you can make in divorce is to go through the process blindly and without exercising your rights. Divorce can make you feel like a victim. It can also make you feel overwhelmed. Being in either of these mentalities can hinder your ability to learn new things. While divorce is probably not high on your list of things you’d like to learn about, it is very useful knowledge. You have divorce rights, but you must first learn those rights to exercise them.
The Right to Custody
Contrary to popular belief, the mother of the child does not automatically have a right to sole custody. Neither parent has a presumptive right to sole custody. Shared custody is the norm. Even if there is good cause for one parent to have sole custody, the other parent may have a right to visitation. The exception is when your child’s health, safety, or well-being is at risk. In all other cases, however, both parents have a right to spend time with their child.
The Right to Assets
Massachusetts is an equitable distribution state. This means you have a right to your fair share of any assets and debts. This is a very important right to be aware of, especially in divorce mediation. Remember that your separation agreement must be reviewed and approved by a judge. Your divorce cannot be finalized until this happens. You have a right to your fair share, but the judge may not sign off on your agreement if it is not fair. Your agreement must be fair and reasonable to both of you.
The Right to Support
Your child has a right to financial support from both parents. If one parent is unable to provide sufficient support, child support is awarded. The child support is for the child, however, and not the parent who receives it.
Alimony is awarded in some Massachusetts divorces, but it is not an entitlement or a right. The length of the marriage and the financial circumstances of both spouses determine alimony.
An experienced Massachusetts divorce mediator can advise you of your divorce rights. A mediator can help you negotiate a fair separation agreement that protects both of your rights. You should also consider having an attorney review your separation agreement before you sign it to ensure your rights are protected.
Do you have questions about divorce in Massachusetts? Mediation Advantage Services can help. Experienced in divorce mediation, Polly A. Tatum can help you and your spouse mediate your divorce while protecting both of your rights. Based in historic Worcester with a satellite office in Northboro, MA, our firm serves all cities and towns throughout Massachusetts and Worcester County including, Auburn, Paxton, Leicester, Sutton, Grafton, Shrewsbury, Westboro, Northboro, Southboro, Holden, Sterling, Princeton, Worcester, Charlton, Millbury, Dudley, Spencer, Brookfield, Sudbury, Natick, Framingham, Hopkinton, Milford, Blackstone, Leominster, Fitchburg, Acton, Jefferson, Barre, Oakham, Cambridge, Newton, Marlboro, Lancaster, Bolton, and Hudson. Call our office at (508) 645-6374, fill out our online form, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org today to schedule your Complimentary Mediation Success Planning Session. You can also sign up for our eNewsletter or download our free e-book for more information regarding divorce in Massachusetts.