Is your blended family just like The Brady Bunch? Probably not, because it's noteasy to combine two Massachusetts families into a new unit. Welcoming a new spouse brings with it an explosion of stress-inducing newness, with new stepchildren, new rules, new demands, new religious practices and more. Though you'll have extra challenges as a blended family, creating a lovely, peaceful home is attainable.
The transition from an intimate partnership in which the parents share a personal relationship to the more distant co-parent relationship is difficult for many Massachusetts parents to manage. The difficulty is compounded because often each parent has different preferences and expectations for co-parenting.
When there are challenges around communication while co-parenting after a Massachusetts divorce or separation, a parenting plan, either court ordered or by parental agreement, can structure the ways in which co-parents will communicate about their child. Including communication terms in a parenting plan can help to deescalate conflict, decrease misunderstandings, ensure that both parents have access to vital information, and insulate children from exposure to adult conflict.
Through the collective work of a Massachusetts Task Force of judges, lawyers, probation officers and mental health professionals, a Model Parenting Plan has been created combining the latest research on the needs of children with the experience of professionals who have worked extensively with children and families going through divorce and separation.
Massachusetts fathers are spending more time caring for their children than they did a half-century ago. Still, most (63%) say they spend too little time with their kids and a much smaller share (36%) say they spend the right amount of time with them, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in August and September 2017.
The share of U.S. children living with an unmarried parent has more than doubled since 1968, jumping from 13% to 32% in 2017. That trend has been accompanied by a drop in the share of children living with two married parents, down from 85% in 1968 to 65%. Some 3% of children are not living with any parents, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.
Divorcing in Massachusetts may not result in the outcome many would hope for. If you're divorcing, most likely you would rather not be around your ex any more than necessary; yet, because children are shared with an ex, the door must remain open for communication and interaction to meet the children's needs. As much as we might wish to completely close the door on the past, we simply can't in these circumstances.
Finding the right arrangement for sharing custody with your former spouse isn't always easy in Massachusetts. When work schedules change, you or your spouse moves to a new location, or your child's after-school activities change, you may need to renegotiate how your time with your child is shared. While Massachusetts courts consider applications to modify custody, these applications are not easily granted.