Even though I have not heard such horror stories about Massachusetts, please be careful and do not try to navigate the guardianship situation alone. Talk to an attorney.
This article hits the nail right in the head. However, if you cohabit with a significant other and have children with him or her, keep in mind that court is still the ultimate arbiter of what should happen to children if things go wrong between you and your significant other. And contract laws may apply too. Seek guidance of an attorney.
Cheap Sex and the Decline of Marriage
Why is marriage in retreat among young Americans? Because it is now much easier for men to find sexual satisfaction outside marriage, argues Mark Regnerus
Kevin, a 24-year-old recent college graduate from Denver, wants to get married someday and is “almost 100% positive” that he will. But not soon, he says, “because I am not done being stupid yet. I still want to go out and have sex with a million girls.” He believes that he’s figured out how to do that:
“Girls are easier to mislead than guys just by lying or just not really caring. If you know what girls want, then you know you should not give that to them until the proper time. If you do that strategically, then you can really have anything you want…whether it’s a relationship, sex, or whatever. You have the control.”
Kevin (not his real name) was one of 100 men and women, from a cross-section of American communities, that my team and I interviewed five years ago as we sought to understand how adults in their 20s and early 30s think about their relationships. He sounds like a jerk. But it’s hard to convince him that his strategy won’t work—because it has, for him and countless other men.
Marriage in the U.S. is in open retreat. As recently as 2000, married 25- to 34-year-olds outnumbered their never-married peers by a margin of 55% to 34%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. By 2015, the most recent year for which data are available, those estimates had almost reversed, with never-marrieds outnumbering marrieds by 53% to 40%. Young Americans have quickly become wary of marriage.
Many economists and sociologists argue that this flight from marriage is about men’s low wages. If they were higher, the argument goes, young men would have the confidence to marry. But recent research doesn’t support this view. A May 2017 study from the National Bureau of Economic Research, focusing on regions enriched by the fracking boom, found that increased wages in those places did nothing to boost marriage rates.
Another hypothesis blames the decline of marriage on men’s fear of commitment. Maybe they just perceive marriage as a bad deal. But most men, including cads such as Kevin, still expect to marry. They eventually want to fall in love and have children, when their independence becomes less valuable to them. They are waiting longer, however, which is why the median age at marriage for American men has risen steadily and is now approaching 30.
My own research points to a more straightforward and primal explanation for the slowed pace toward marriage: For American men, sex has become rather cheap. As compared to the past, many women today expect little in return for sex, in terms of time, attention, commitment or fidelity. Men, in turn, do not feel compelled to supply these goods as they once did. It is the new sexual norm for Americans, men and women alike, of every age.
This transformation was driven in part by birth control. Its widespread adoption by women in recent decades not only boosted their educational and economic fortunes but also reduced their dependence on men. As the risk of pregnancy radically declined, sex shed many of the social and personal costs that once encouraged women to wait.
These forces have been at work for more than a half-century, since the birth-control pill was invented in 1960, but it seems that our norms and narratives about sexual relationships have finally caught up with the technology. Data collected in 2014 for the “Relationships in America” project—a national survey of over 15,000 adults, ages 18 to 60, that I oversaw for the Austin Institute for the Study of Family and Culture—asked respondents when they first had sex in their current or most recent relationship. After six months of dating? After two? The most common experience—reported by 32% of men under 40—was having sex with their current partner before the relationship had begun. This is sooner than most women we interviewed would prefer.
The birth-control pill is not the only sexual technology that has altered expectations. Online porn has made sexual experience more widely and easily available too. A laptop never says no, and for many men, virtual women are now genuine competition for real partners. In the same survey, 46% of men (and 16% of women) under 40 reported watching pornography at some point in the past week—and 27% in the past day.
Many young men and women still aspire to marriage as it has long been conventionally understood—faithful, enduring, focused on raising children. But they no longer seem to think that this aspiration requires their discernment, prudence or self-control.
When I asked Kristin, a 29-year-old from Austin, whether men should make sacrifices to get sex, she offered a confusing prescription: “Yes. Sometimes. Not always. I mean, I don’t think it should necessarily be given out by women, but I do think it’s OK if a woman does just give it out. Just not all the time.”
Kristin rightly wants the men whom she dates to treat her well and to respect her interests, but the choices that she and other women have made unwittingly teach the men in their lives that such behavior is noble and nice but not required in order to sleep with them. They are hoping to find good men without supporting the sexual norms that would actually make men better.
For many men, the transition away from a mercenary attitude toward relationships can be difficult. The psychologist and relationship specialist Scott Stanley of the University of Denver sees visible daily sacrifices, such as accepting inconveniences in order to see a woman, as the way that men typically show their developing commitment. It signals the expectation of a future together. Such small instances of self-sacrificing love may sound simple, but they are less likely to develop when past and present relationships are founded on the expectation of cheap sex.
Young people in the U.S. continue to marry, even if later in life, but the number of those who never marry is poised to increase. In a 2015 article in the journal Demography, Steven Ruggles of the University of Minnesota predicted that a third of Americans now in their 20s will never wed, well above the historical norm of just below 10.
Most young Americans still seek the many personal and social benefits that come from marriage, even as the dynamics of today’s mating market conspire against them. It turns out that a world in which it is possible to satisfy our sexual desires much more immediately carries with it a number of unhappy and unintended consequences.
WSJ, 9:29/17 by Dr. Regnerus. Dr. Regnerus is associate professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin. This essay is adapted from his new book, “Cheap Sex: The Transformation of Men, Marriage and Monogamy” (Oxford University Press).
Although nothing is certain at this point, new Trump presidency may bring changes to current tax laws in the areas of estate and gift tax, as well as charitable deductions.
Massachusetts is home to thousands of immigrants coming from many different countries of the world. Realizing this, Massachusetts courts have made available (at least since May, 2015) some important forms, such as paperwork related to Restraining Order (otherwise known as Abuse Prevention Order) available in eight different languages: Spanish, Arabic, Vietnamese, Chinese, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, Russian and Khmer.
A Complaint for Protection from Abuse is asking the court to prohibit a person harassing or abusing you to come near you and to contact you in any way: by telephone, by e-mail or otherwise. When you are being threatened, harassed or subject to violence and your first language is not English, the last thing you need to worry about is how to fill out a form to seek relief from abuse from the court. So it is very helpful that one of the most vital court forms is available in multiple languages.
One of the main focuses of this law firm is domestic relations, and a big component of domestic relations practice is divorce. Regrettably, it is a statement of fact: people do get divorced much more often than we as a society would like to see it happen. We invite you to participate in this little poll below - absolutely anonymously! - to help us better understand the marital status of our prospective clients, readers interested in family law issues and other legal issues and simply visitors to this site. We appreciate and encourage your visits. Check back soon for more legal insights, new blog posts and more legal information.
Think you can hide from your spouse by not having an address where you can be served with divorce papers - either at home or at work? A New York judge does not think so. Recently, in a Baidoo v Blood-Dzraku case, he ruled that divorce papers can be served by sending a personal message on Facebook if no other, more conventional option is available:
Much is written about divorce law. This is not surprising. Unfortunately, divorce is a common occurrence in our society. If you Google “Massachusetts Divorce”, you will receive thousands upon thousands of links. Most of the links will point you to some forum where a self proclaimed expert will explain some aspect of divorce to the reader. All too often, the information contained in such publications will be wrong or misleading. In this brief overview, we will attempt to highlight some common factual fallacies.
1) Fact or Fiction? We have been living as a couple for 7 years in Massachusetts but have never formalized our marital status with the Commonwealth. Because we lived together as a married couple for a statutory period, we are married in the eyes of the law. Fiction. Massachusetts does not recognize Common Law Marriage.
2) Fact or Fiction? If I am not married in the eyes of the law, I cannot get any alimony or separation of assets. Fiction. Family and Probate Courts are courts of equity. Equity deals with fairness. A qualified attorney may be able to obtain a fair and equitable outcome for you vis-à-vis your (former) significant other, be it a partner, a boyfriend or a girlfriend, even if you two were not married.
3) Fact or Fiction? My spouse and I decided to part ways. We agree on everything. Therefore, we do not need to go to court. Fiction. Spouses may separate their assets and their home by themselves. However, a mere separation does not constitute a divorce. Marriage is a status which has been granted and recognized by the Commonwealth. What Commonwealth creates can only be dissolved by the Commonwealth. In Massachusetts, marriage can only be dissolved by the Probate and Family Court.
4) Fact or Fiction? I have no assets to divide with my spouse, so I do not need an attorney to go through divorce. Fiction. Divorce, just like marriage, has future implications. There are many issues to resolve aside from separation of assets. Issues vary by individual circumstances, but typically include Alimony, Child Support, Custody of Children, Visitation Rights, and Custody of “special property interests”( Special property interest may exist in biological specimens such as cryo preserved semen. Special Property Interest may also include burial plots)
5) Fact of Fiction? If I represent myself and make a mistake, I can always correct it by a process called modification. Fiction. Modification is only available when a petitioner is able to demonstrate that there has been a material change in circumstances from the time divorce has been granted. A mistake of a pro se litigant alone will not support a modification.
6) Fact or Fiction? I have a prenuptial agreement. If I later get divorced, the judge hearing my divorce is bound by the provisions of the agreement. Fiction. A Probate and Family Court judge may unilaterally strike out a provision or the entire agreement if she determines that it is not fair and reasonable.
7) Fact or Fiction? My spouse and I can agree in a separation agreement that there will be no alimony. Fact in most circumstances. However, the judge will not allow one spouse to become a financial burden on the state if the other spouse is able to pay support.
8) Fact or Fiction? I received inheritance from my rich uncle. This property will not be divided. Fiction. In Massachusetts, divisible property is comprised of property whenever and however acquired. It may include the inheritance from your uncle, particularly so if your spouse has helped to make that inheritance grow in value.
9) Fact or Fiction? On May 1st 2011, I had a hearing in court where the judge granted me a divorce. On June 1st, 2011 I can re-marry. Fiction. Polygamy is not allowed in our Commonwealth. Grant of divorce does not become final until after 90 days have passed from the date the Judgment of Divorce had been issued.
10) Fact or Fiction? I can agree with my spouse not to pay child support. Fiction. The right to child support belongs to the child, not to the parents. The state will enforce the right to child support even if the spouse will not.
11) Fact or Fiction? I can agree with my spouse on what the amount of child support will be. Partially Fiction. Massachusetts has promulgated child support guidelines which set minimum payments based on financial data. A parent can agree to pay more.
12) Fact or Fiction? If I represent myself in a divorce case, a judge will tell me if the Separation Agreement is not fair. Depends on the judge. The judge will ask each spouse if they understand and agree with terms of the Separation Agreement. There is no affirmative duty on the part of the judge to question fairness unless an agreement is so one sided that it shocks the consciousness or violates some statutory provision.
13) Fact or Fiction? Our marital property will be divided 50/50 upon divorce. Fiction. Massachusetts is among a minority of states that still use the equitable division of assets method. Fair and equitable does not mean equal. There are many factors the judge will look at in determining how the assets will be split.
14) Fact or Fiction? There is no difference between child support and alimony payments. These are just two different labels for the same thing. Fiction. Child support will always have to be paid if the divorcing spouses have a minor child or children while alimony will not. There are many situations where neither of the divorcing spouses will get alimony. Furthermore, Child Support payments are tax deductible while alimony is not.
15) Fact or Fiction? We have been married for 2 years, so my spouse will be eligible for alimony. Fiction. See Answer to Question 14 right above. Judges are reluctant to order alimony payments in a short term marriage. If the marriage has lasted only a few short years, judges will typically place the parties in positions they were prior to the marriage.
In the following post we will talk about child custody.
The preceeding was a superficial overview of most common myths in divorce law. This writing is for general informational purposes only. It was designed to give readers some very basic understanding about issues that come up in divorce law and is not a substitute for a qualified legal advice. A divorce is a complicated process riddled with many hurdles. Don’t go through it alone, seek legal representation. If you have any questions or require further assistance, please call the Law Office of Ariana Kushak at 617-290-5083 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Imagine the following scenario: you and your spouse have been married for a certain amount of time – it probably doesn’t matter for how long or how little time – and somewhere down the line your financial situation changes. For example, you start earning significantly more. Without any agreement to the contrary, your spouse would have the claim to the additional money as it was received by a married person – you – during marriage – and would be considered ‘’marital property to be divided equitably in the event of a divorce.
However, recently, in a case named Ansin v. Craven – Ansin, Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, via a decision authored by a departing Chief Justice Margaret Marshall, announced that ‘’a marital relationship need not vitiate contractual rights between the parties.’’ 457 Mass. 283. (July 16, 2010). In other words, parties can be married and still have a right to contract with each other just like any unrelated parties do.
One might argue that a marital agreement is different from your typical contract negotiated at arm’s length because of a highly personal, confidential and intimate nature of a relationship between the contracting parties. This is exactly the kind of argument the wife in the Ansin case made. She argued that marital agreements, by their very nature, are ‘’innately coercive’’, ‘’usually’’ arise when a marriage is already failing and may ‘’encourage’’ divorce (quoting the text of the decision).
For example, it is quite possible to imagine one spouse, usually the one who is the primary source of wealth in the family, using the marital agreement as a tactic to deprive the other spouse of much of the marital property in the event of a divorce. The ‘’wealthy’’ spouse may say something like, ‘’Here is an agreement my lawyer drafted. If you want to stay married, you better sign it.’’ The court, while agreeing in principle that circumstances surrounding marital contracts certainly provide ample opportunities for threat, coercion and duress, stated that this can be avoided by having a Probate and Family Court judge review and scrutinize each agreement.
With these unorthodox options, splitting up — and dealing with divorce — doesn't have to be a total downer.
By Elise Nersesian-Solé for Marie-Claire
Feeling a bit blue after separating from a spouse? These unusual post-divorce rituals may help you ease the pain — at least temporarily.
Divorce registries: A store in the U.K. called Debenhams offers "divorce registries," where pre-selected gifts (dishes, linens, flat-screen televisions) are sold and delivered to the newly single.
Divorce ceremonies: In Tokyo, unhappy couples flock to the Divorce Mansion (a small rented room in a secret location) to smash their wedding rings with a mallet in front of family and friends.
Fireworks displays: The Great Northern Firework Company in England will set off a theatrical display of fireworks for just-divorced folks spelling out messages like "Free at last!" and "Just divorced!"
Networking events: "Life After Divorce" is a $40 NYC-based event for women in the throes of a divorce where they drink cocktails named "Alimony" and "Settlement" and mingle with matchmakers, nutritionists, psychics, and divorce lawyers