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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