Divorce and Separation

Today, more and more baby boomers are choosing to get divorced and more often than not that decision is centered on gaining a more fulfilled life. This article briefly talks about the growing trend, why more baby boomers are choosing divorce and why women more often make the decision to divorce.

Over the past two decades, the divorce rate among people ages 50 and older has doubled. In 1990 only one out of 10 people age 50 or older got divorced. Today, at least one in four people age 50 and older divorce. Couples, who once thought they would grow old together, realize they have little in common once the children have moved out of the house. And baby boomers who find themselves discontent try to seek further happiness during the second half of life.

One such couple featured in an article about gray divorce in The Wall Street Journal laid their differences over finances, religion and parenting to rest for 20 years. But after the kids were gone, they realized they were alone in their marriage. She became interested in religion and he refused to attend church. She went back to school to further her career and he was happy to spend time with friends. The wife said in The Wall Street Journal interview, “We had nothing to talk about, and when we did, it was bickering.”

According to an AARP survey, it is women more often than men who make the choice to divorce and find further happiness. Experts who have followed the change in divorce habits, say women of the baby boomer generation are continuing their trailblazing efforts in women’s rights by removing the stigma of divorcing late in life.

The choice to go forward with a gray divorce is also buoyed by the fact that more women age 50 and older are financially able to leave an unhappy marriage and take care of themselves. As put by one relationship counselor, “This is the first generation of women to say, ‘I don’t have to sacrifice the rest of my life in a marriage that doesn’t make me happy.”

As a result online dating-sites have seen a surge in users age 50 and older. Over the past year use of online dating sites by baby boomers has grown twice as fast as other age groups.


Family Law & Custody

In this fast-paced modern world, it is an unfortunate reality that families are broken up by events such as job relocations or divorce. Often this means that children must move and make a new home outside of the commonwealth.

Despite the common occurrence of this arrangement, there are laws in Massachusetts that govern the removal of minor children from the Commonwealth. It is therefore important for Massachusetts parents, whether divorced or married, who are considering taking their child with them to live outside the Commonwealth to make themselves aware of the law’s requirements.

Divorced Parents
If the parents of the minor child are divorced, Massachusetts law is fairly clear. Under Massachusetts statutes, if the child is a native of Massachusetts or had lived within the Commonwealth for five years, neither parent can remove the child outside the Commonwealth without the other parent’s consent.

If the other parent does not consent to the child’s removal from the Commonwealth, the parent wishing to take the child outside of the Commonwealth can ask a court for permission. However, a court will only grant permission if the parent can show sufficient reasons why the child should be allowed to be removed from the commonwealth.

In deciding whether the reasons for removal are sufficient, the court generally determines if the removal of the child from the Commonwealth is in the child’s best interests. In other words, among many things, the court considers how living in another state will affect the child and his or her quality of life as well as the possible adverse effect on the child caused by his or her separation from the parent remaining in Massachusetts.

As in other court cases, the parent opposing the removal of the child has an opportunity to show that the removal of the child would not be in the child’s best interest. After considering both sides, if the court finds that the child’s proposed move outside the Commonwealth is in his or her best interests, it may grant the parent permission to take the child to another state.

Unmarried Parents
The law about removal of children from the Commonwealth is less clear when the parents are unmarried. Although there is no legal requirement that both parents give consent to the removal of the child, Massachusetts law says that “children born to parents who are not married to each other shall be entitled to the rights and protections of the law as all other children.” It is therefore advisable that a parent in this situation wishing to take a child from the Commonwealth get permission – either the other parent’s or court’s – before taking the child.

Married Parents
In general, married parents share custody of their children and do not need permission of the other parent to remove the child to live in another state. However, as shared custody means that both parents have an equal right to share in making decisions affecting their children, the removal might interfere with the other parent’s custody rights. This can cause problems later on if the parents decide to get a divorce, as it may cause the non-removing parent to be awarded custody of the child, because of the previous violation of custody rights by the other parent.

Consult an Attorney
As the possible repercussions resulting from the removal of a minor child can be severe, it is not a decision to be taken lightly. Since the law is complicated on how it would affect a given situation, if you are considering removing your minor child from the Commonwealth it is a good idea to consult with an experienced family law attorney. An attorney can advise you of how the law applies to your personal situation and work to minimize the risk of negative repercussions.


Divorce and Separation

The development of texting and social media has helped create a new phenomenon among divorce lawyers: the sharing of clients’ cellphone information in court. Divorce lawyers in Massachusetts and elsewhere in the country are seeing more evidence from cellphones show up in divorce court than ever before.

The daily use of cellphones has translated into a boon of evidence for attorneys who represent divorce clients. A recent survey of family law attorneys tried to capture the growth of cellphone evidence and the types of digital information family law attorneys use in their cases.

The survey conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers found 94 percent of respondents saw an increase in the use of cellphone evidence in their cases. Text messages were the most common form of evidence taken from cellphones and represented 62 percent of the evidence obtained from cellphones. Emails were the second most common form of information obtained from cellphones with 23 percent. Phone numbers and call histories were gathered 13 percent of the time. Internet search and GPS histories were the least used form of evidence obtained from cellphones and were obtained 1 percent of the time.

Clients should be aware that a text message or Facebook exchange is a written record of conversation and may be used to determine credibility or factual clarity in court. Therefore text messages, call histories and GPS data can be used to determine whether divorced individuals are following court orders, whether parents are following custody plans and whether domestic abuse orders are followed. For example, a text message can be used to determine whether a parent informed another of a change in visitation plans.

Texts and social media messages tend to get clients in the most trouble when the messages are made in an emotional state and without reflection. To avoid trouble in the courtroom, individuals should not put anything in writing that they would not want a judge to read.

If you are considering divorce in Massachusetts, contact an experienced divorce attorney to review your legal options.