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Divorce & Family Law: February 2013 Archives

Name Change After a Divorce

I recently read an article in the New York Times entitled "When the New You Carries a Fresh Identity, Too" written by Megan L. Wood that raised interesting questions about divorcing women and a name change after a divorce.  The article brought up the fact that many divorcing women are at a crossroads of their life where the divorce gives them a chance to have a fresh identity by choosing a new last name.  As the article recognizes, "[h]anging on to your ex's last name can daily conjure an unhappy past, while going back to a maiden name [they]'ve outgrown can be difficult to imagine."  The solution, for some, is selecting another, neutral name.

Pre-Teen Parenting Plans

In a recent custody case we litigated in the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court, a case in which the parties' minor child is a smart, articulate, athletic and very talented 11-year-old boy, an excellent resource published by the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts ("AFCC") called "Planning for Shared Parenting:  A guide for Parents Living Apart" became a vital guide for the parties in formulating an effective parenting plan that both parties agreed is in their pre-teen's best interests.  Formulating pre-teen parenting plans can be quite challenging.  This particular AFCC guide articulates a number of important issues that the parties to a custody case should consider.  Probate and Family Court judges often refer to the resource, so it is also something that should be considered in anticipating a possible judgment after a full-blown trial.  This advance knowledge certainly helps settle cases, and in turn, reduces the overall cost of litigation.     

Parental Alienation: Parents Behaving Badly or a Mental Disorder?

In what are usually highly contentious divorces or child custody disputes, the term "parental alienation" has been coined to describe what is a form of emotional abuse that occurs when one parent actively works to align their child with him/her to the exclusion of the other parent, without justification, resulting in the child's rejection of the estranged parent.  Merriam-Webster's online dictionary defines alienation as "a withdrawing or separation of a person or a person's affections from an object or position of former attachment; estrangement."  In cases involving parental alienation, there is destruction of a child's once positive relationship with both parents.  As one parent poisons the child against the other, the child's affinity shifts to only one parent while he/she alienates or rejects the other.

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