According to a Boston Globe article, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley filed a request with the U.S. District Court last Thursday, February 19, 2010, to rule on the constitutionality of the Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The reasoning behind the A.G.'s request is that DOMA forces Massachusetts to discriminate against same-sex spouses in order to maintain certain federal funding for programs like Medicaid and Veteran's burials.
These are only two examples of how DOMA affects same-sex spouses. Despite Massachusetts law granting same-sex couples the right to marry, there are Federal benefits that traditional spouses enjoy which same-sex couples do not because of DOMA. Many of these differences are related to tax benefits for spouses. For example, spouses can transfer property between each other without certain tax consequences where non-spouses cannot.
This can be a particularly difficult issue in same-sex divorces as it relates to retirement accounts. Because retirement accounts are defined by Massachusetts law as martial property, divorces often result in a non-taxable transfer of retirement funds between ex-spouses. When the division is completed by a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) the transfer does not result in any tax consequences. But transfers between non-spouses of retirement funds are treated like a liquidation resulting in income tax and a tax penalty (if the plan participant is below retirement age). Since same-sex spouses are not spouses for federal purposes retirement account funds cannot be transferred without tax consequences.
Although you are unlikely to hear a lot of discussion relating to same-sex divorce in support of the same-sex marriage debate, the discrimination against same-sex spouses becomes even more evident when these spouses request the protection of divorce laws.
Even if you believe that states should have a right to decide the same-sex marriage issue state-by-state, it's hard to support discrimination by the Federal government of same-sex couples in the states that have already decided in favor of same-sex marriage. DOMA effectively throws the weight of the Federal government against same-sex marriage rather than remaining neutral on the issue. Good luck to the Mass A.G. in restoring at least some balance.
UPDATE: The court has released a web calculating version of the 2021 MA Child Support Guidelines Worksheet . It resolves some of the typos referred to below, but the unexpected calculations still apply. Every four years, per federal mandate, the Massachusetts Probate & Family Court revisits the Child Support Guidelines through the work of a Task Force appointed by the Chief Justice. The 2021 Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines were recently posted. They take effect on October 4, 2021. If you are interested in a training on all of these changes to the new Child Support Guidelines: DMTA Presents the 2021 MA Child Support Guidelines Update – Attend this event to learn the key updates you need to know for your mediation clients. Presented by Justin Kelsey of Divorce Mediation Training Associates and Skylark Law & Mediation, PC . For a full comparison of all the tracked changes between the 2018 and 2021 Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines you can download a pdf sho
It is our hope that all families find a way to resolve conflict peacefully. This is especially true when children are involved. Divorced or separated parenting has many complications and the first is just deciding how to share time with a child from two separate households. Developing a schedule can result in a lot of tension, especially if parents have trouble picturing how this new schedule will interact with their work schedules and the schedules of their children. To help make this easier, we've created an online tool for creating parenting plans that is simple and easy to use: We encourage parents, regardless of the process they are using to divorce, to use this form to assist in evaluating and settling custody disputes. The form allows you to choose between the Model Parenting Plan proposals or customize your parenting plan over a four week period by clicking directly on the form. When you click on a section of the calendar it switches between Mom and Dad, an
In Massachusetts the statutory waiting period after a Judgment of Divorce and before the divorce becomes final (or absolute) is called the Nisi period. After a divorce case settles or goes to trial, a Judgment of Divorce Nisi will issue and it will become Absolute after a further ninety (90) days. This waiting period serves the purpose of allowing parties to change their mind before the divorce becomes final. If the Judgment of Divorce Nisi has issued but not become final yet, and you and your spouse decide you don't want to get divorced, then you can file a Motion to Dismiss and the Judgment will be undone. Although many of my clients who are getting divorced think the idea of getting back together with their ex sounds crazy, I have had cases where this happened. In addition to offering a grace period to change your mind, the Nisi period has three other legal effects: 1. The most obvious effect of the waiting period is that you cannot remarry during the Nisi period, be