What to Do if You Aren’t Getting Visitation with Your Child

If you are the non-custodial parent, not being able to spend time with your child on a daily basis can be painful. Regular visitation should help, but if the other parent is not cooperative or if you have not been granted visitation, you could be wondering what steps you need to take in order to spend more time with your child. An attorney who is experienced in Massachusetts divorce and family law can help.

The next steps depend on your situation. If you have not been granted visitation with your children, then you and your attorney will need to go to court to modify the child custody order that is currently in place, or you may need to petition to have a child custody order made if there isn’t one. These are both things that a family law attorney can help you with.

On the other hand, if a judge has ordered that you are supposed to get visitation with your child but the custodial parent is not cooperating, you will need to petition the courts to ensure that the child custody order is followed. It can be challenging to deal with a custodial parent who is not willing to budge, but it is important to follow the proper legal procedure in order to obtain your desired outcome.

If you want to see your kids, you should be able to, even as the non-custodial parent. Whether you need help with child custody or other aspects of your divorce, we can help. Please call our office to schedule a consultation with our family law attorneys.

Divorce and The Best Interests of the Child

When you’re going through the divorce process and managing the child support and custody issues, you’ll hear the term “best interests of the child.” Generally, the court will consider the new family lifestyle after a divorce and where the court feels the child will best be able to adapt to the new changes. It is possible for you and your spouse to ease into your new family dynamic in order to make the transition easier on your child.

Amicable Relationship

In order for you and your spouse to best help your child through the divorce process, they should maintain an amicable relationship. While that may not be easy, especially at first, this is beneficial in helping your child’s transition into this new way of life. It’s best to avoid contentious debates about visitation, child support, visitation and other child-rearing issues. [Read more…]

Employment Law, Military Service, and Your Rights

Today’s military relies more and more on reservists and those considered to be part-time soldiers. While these individuals are ready, willing and able to serve their country when called, they know that time away serving their Country means time away from their regular employment. This is why there are laws that protect those called to active duty.

Re-Employment Rights

No doubt, the biggest concern to those called away is getting their job back when they return. An employee is considered to be on an unpaid leave of absence when he or she is called to active military duty. This means that they have the right to be re-employed once they return, as mandated by federal law. They are also entitled to the same benefits and salary.

Those that have been called away to serve must reapply for their job, depending on how long the reservist has been away. The service member has five years to retain his re-employment rights.

If the employee has been absent for 30 days or less, he can continue his health care coverage at the same cost during the time of his service. If he serves more than 30 days, he obtains a plan through the health plan offered by the military. [Read more…]

What Can Be Modified in Your Massachusetts Divorce Agreement

Having the provisions of a divorce agreement modified under Massachusetts law is possible, based on how the separation agreement was written and the circumstances bringing about the request for a modification. Before bringing your modification request to the court, you need to consult with an experienced divorce attorney.

The first thing to realize is that there must be a material change in circumstances to request a modification, such as an employment change, a significant change of residence, or change in income. These changes can affect custody agreements and spousal and child support.

When drafting a separation agreement, there are two types of provisions addressed in the agreement: surviving and merging. Merging provisions are open to modification. Merging provisions are generally child specific issues like custody arrangements, support, and health insurance. Sometimes alimony can be a merging provision. Surviving provisions are generally not open to modification. An example of surviving provision is the division of property. [Read more…]

Criminal Law Cases

With a background in criminal law and having served as an Assistant District Attorney, Attorney Morte has represented numerous clients who have been charged with criminal offenses.

A small sample of cases handled successfully by Attorney Morte have included:

  • Operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • General motor vehicle offenses including negligence, operating after suspension or other similar charges
  • Gun charges
  • Sexual assault charges
  • Registry of Motor Vehicle issues and including loss of license
  • Texting/Pornography related charges

General Civil Litigation – Sample Cases

Attorney Morte has represented several small and large companies in recovering outstanding amounts owned for goods and services provided.  A sample of the companies that Attorney Morte has represented.

  • A nationally known transportation company
  • A nationally known distribution and warehouse business
  • A Massachusetts Insurance Agency with offices throughout the State
  • Several banks that do business in Massachusetts
  • A well-established local coffee company
  • Several appliance stores located within Massachusetts
  • Several construction and development companies
  • A Packaging Company that does business worldwide.
  • Several carpet and tile companies in either their defense or in the collection of funds owed for goods and services provided.
  • A Real Estate and Development Company related to a mechanics lien
  • Attorney Morte has also defended individuals where there has been inadequate insurance coverage or wherein the insurance company has refused to cover claims whether the be related to homeowners or automobile coverage.

Motorcycle Group Ride – Accidents and Injuries

Many motorcyclists are quick to sign up for group rides.  There is no shortage of them especially in Massachusetts.  Our riding season is generally shorter than many parts of the country.

Every weekend there is a group charity ride going somewhere.  Many motorcyclists are willing to quickly sign up to participate for these rides because the cause is important to them.  They are quick to fill out the registration form and pay the fee and they often sign off on the release of liability agreement required to participate in such a run.  Signing a form of this type does not make the ride any safer or remove liability from all participants.
[Read more…]

Employment Law Cases

Attorney Morte has successfully handled numerous cases involving discrimination based on pregnancy, sex, age, disability or national origins.

A sampling of these cases that Attorney Morte has resolved or is presently working on one of the following:

  • A case where a woman was terminated working for a national known company, after she became pregnant and complained that she was being placed on a Personal Improvement Plan simply because she was a woman and pregnant.
  • A case where a woman was being sexually harassed by her supervisor who repeatedly asked her for sexual favors.
  • A man who was a whistleblower against a utility company that was falsely reporting statistics to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
  • Cases involving the wage and hour laws which allow for a trebling of damages plus Attorney’s fee where the employer fails to pay wages or overtime in accordance with the law.

[Read more…]

Personal Injury Cases

  • Attorney Morte has represented the Estates of a young man who was overprescribed medication and who eventually died from an overdose of the medication. Attorney Morte successfully recovered from both the physician who prescribed the medication, as well as the pharmacy who sold the medication to the young man.
  • Attorney Morte was able to secure the policy limits for a woman who was involved in a single car incident caused by a driver who left the scene of the accident. The accident happened at the intersection of Route 495 and Route 290 in Marlborough, MA.  The client suffered a concussion from the accident and which was ultimately diagnosed as a brain injury resulting in a large settlement.
  • Attorney Morte successfully negotiated a settlement for a mason who was injured at work due to the negligence of the general contractor and his employer. The client suffered a debilitation shoulder injury which prevented him from returning to work.  Fortunately, the settlement allowed the worker a financial settlement that allowed him to comfortably live out his retirement years.
  • Often Attorney Morte has represented clients with pre-existing injuries that were aggravated by another accident. These cases are often denied by insurance companies initially.  Attorney Morte has often been able to prove that the injuries are either new or aggravated be the recent events resulting in favorable settlements.
  • Attorney Morte has represented numerous motorcycle operators or bicyclists who were badly injured in motor vehicle accidents. Often there is a bias against these individuals, but the injuries that they sometimes suffer can be catastrophic.  Attorney Morte has successfully resolved a number of these cases.
  • Attorney Morte has represented a number of individuals when they have been injured while working. These cases are often covered under the worker’s compensation law, but there are occasions where the employer fails to properly provide for insurance coverage the employee as such and a direct claim can be made against the employer.
  • Attorney Morte has successfully pursued numerous third party cases against individuals or entities that caused injuries to client’s while they were working. Attorney Morte has successfully maintained third party cases on behalf of police officers, municipal workers, and many others.
  • Attorney Morte has represented a number of individuals who were badly injured when they fell due to the negligence of their landlord or others. Attorney Morte has been successful  in obtaining substantial recoveries for individuals who have sustained ankle fractures, arm fractures or other significant injuries.

Divorce Matters and Restraining Order Cases

Restraining Orders

Often times a Restraining Order will serve as the first step to a divorce action.

Attorney Morte has successful challenged Restraining Orders that were obtained without advance notice and a hearing.  When the time came for presentation of the full set of facts and there was an opportunity for cross-examination, these Restraining Orders were dropped.

Alimony

Attorney Morte has helped numerous clients obtain Alimony in accordance with the recently enacted Alimony laws in Massachusetts.  The new laws generally allow for a spouse to obtain Alimony that ranges between 30% to 35% of the difference in income where there has been a long-term marriage.  Attorney Morte has been successful in obtaining awards for both men and women. [Read more…]

Massachusetts Car Accident Expenses – Who Pays For What?

You’ve been in a serious car accident along the busy roads of Greater Boston.  The damage to your vehicle is great, but that doesn’t measure to the pain you’ve suffered from your injuries. Not only is your car totaled, but you’re about to receive numerous medical bills for thousands of dollars.  Who pays for what?

•    Medical Bills
The state of Massachusetts follows the “no fault” system.  When injury occurs from a car accident, automobile insurance will pay up to $2,000 of the medical bills.  After that $2,000, either your healthcare coverage, or P.I.P.(Personal Injury Protection) if you did not have health insurance during the accident, will cover the amount appropriate with the insurance you bought.  However, P.I.P. will only cover up to $8,000. [Read more…]

Premises Liability – What is it and Who is at fault?

Winter is coming, and there will be snow and ice. In fact, if it’s anything like last year, there may be a lot of snow and ice.

Injuries due to snow and ice may be cause for damages in a premises liability case. Premises liability in Massachusetts, however, applies to many types of injuries and accidents, not just those caused by our weather.

The term “premises liability” covers any kind of accident that arises from a condition on a property. This can include snow or ice, an obstruction, defective workmanship, inadequate maintenance, a slippery floor, broken stairs, or any other environment that causes one to fall, slip, or trip. The range of potential conditions covered by premises liability is very wide; because of the numerous conditions potentially covered and the complexity of the law, it is highly advisable to consult an experienced personal injury attorney if you have questions. [Read more…]

Massachusetts Child Support Law

In a Massachusetts divorce, one parent may be ordered by the court to pay child support. Under Massachusetts law, both parents are required to support their children—and this is true regardless of marital status (whether the parents are married, divorced, separated, or were never married). The parent the child lives with is termed the custodial parent. The noncustodial parent may be required to pay child support.

Massachusetts child support law is complicated, but there are several things you should know.

One, child support may be used to pay for housing, food, clothing, education, and insurance and medical costs. [Read more…]

Who Has Child Custody When Parents Are Separated

Making the decision to separate from your spouse is difficult and often occurs over a lengthy period of time. During that time, it’s common for spouses to begin living in separate households. If the partners have children, this raises many questions about where and with who the children should live.

Massachusetts law has put in place some very distinct laws to handle this sort of child custody dispute.
If the parents are not married, the mother automatically has sole legal and physical custody until a court orders something else. However under Massachusetts law, if the parents are married to each other, both parents share legal and physical custody of the children until a court decides otherwise. [Read more…]

Divorce Modifications in the State of Massachusetts

When the terms of your divorce no longer fit your present circumstances, petitioning for divorce modification can help alter the terms accordingly. In the state of Massachusetts, overturning a divorce decree requires an appeal. This process is often drawn-out because one appellate court will need to overturn a lower court’s decision. These appeals are usually unsuccessful except in the case of exceptional and compelling circumstances. These are common examples of situations that warrant a divorce modification. [Read more…]

Employment Law: Massachusetts Sick Leave Law Now In Effect

If you work in a company of 11 or more people you are now entitled to paid sick leave. The law became effective on July 15, 2015 and requires that you be credited with one hour of paid leave for every thirty hours worked. According to the state statute you may use this time for yourself, your spouse, child, parent or parent – in –law for issues such as:

  • Medical treatment for physical or mental illness
  • Conditions that require home care
  • Preventative medical care
  • Routine medical appointments
  • Physical or legal issues concerning domestic violence

In most instances you do not have to produce documentation, or a “doctor’s note “ unless you are absent for more than 24 hours. [Read more…]

An attorney who will get the job done!!

7 years ago Steve handled my difficult divorce with professionalism and to my satisfaction. I rehired him to work through the support part of our divorce which was left unsettled due to the inability of one party to compromise. Although it took longer than I had hoped, through no fault of Attorney Morte, the support issue was also resolved to my satisfaction. I would hire Attorney Morte again in a heartbeat.

Pam, divorce client

Massachusetts Law and the Role of Insurance Adjusters

With over 110,000 auto crashes a year in the state of Massachusetts, it is a sad likelihood that you or a loved one could be severely injured in an auto accident at some point. This can be a very disturbing event, and potentially a very debilitating one. Both emotional and physical effects from an accident can significantly affect your daily life.

You have prepared for this contingency by purchasing auto insurance. In the event of an accident, you expect that your insurance policy or that of the party a fault will provide whatever is needed for your continued health and well-being.

However, it is important to know that the insurance companies will always try to limit the costs associated with payment of claims. With that in mind, there may be some things that the insurance representative will not tell you. [Read more…]

Contempt and Enforcement of Family Law Court Orders

When a divorce decree is finalized by the court, the decree often contains specific orders to one party specifically called court orders. These orders may include payment of child support or spousal support or a transfer of property to one spouse. The courts may also order specific visitation schedules for the non-custodial parent. Too often, former spouses may elect to ignore these orders which can create numerous problems. The penalties to the offending party for these transgressions can be severe but oftentimes the party who is being harmed needs to file a claim in order to call the court’s attention to the situation. Your family law attorney may suggest you file a contempt of court case against the offending party.

What do I have to prove?

Before you can file a contempt of court charge against the person who is violating a court order, there are certain conditions that must be met. You will have to be able to prove to the satisfaction of the court some of these conditions:

  • The order is valid – a contempt of court case requires the agreement between the partners was ordered by the court and that one person is violating that order.
  • The defendant is aware of the order – in some divorce cases, both parties may not have attended the court hearings. If a judge orders support payments or visitation, the other person has to be aware these orders are in place in order to obey them. In most cases, this can be accomplished by sending a copy of the orders to the other party immediately following a divorce.
  • The person is knowingly in default – if your former spouse calls you and tells you they will not make a support payment or that you cannot see your child, this is clear evidence they are knowingly violating a court order.

[Read more…]

Negligent Entrustment – $625,000.00

A Marlborough, MA man received a $625,000.00 Judgment after having been injured in a motorcycle accident in 2006. This young man was injured when another motorcycle operated by a person, with limited driving experience and a poor driving history, caused the motorcycle crash. This person was also operating an uninsured and unregistered vehicle.

Suit was brought against the company that entrusted the motorcycle to this person. Initially, this case was decided in favor of the company by a Judge in the Superior Court. The case was appealed to the Massachusetts Appeals Court, where the Superior Court’s decision was overturned, ultimately resulting in a settlement of $625,000.00.

This case is a good example of how persistence and hard work can result in a successful outcome.

Auto Accidents: Back and Neck Injuries

If you’ve been involved in an auto accident, don’t ignore the minor aches and pains. You may think you’re not seriously injured and that its too much trouble to go to the doctor to check out such a minor issue. The fact of the matter is many types of back and neck injuries can take weeks and even months to surface and that minor ache often turns in to something much more serious. Here are a few examples of serious back and neck injuries that may take weeks to materialize .

  • Herniated and bulging discs. The 23 discs in your vertebrae sit between 24 vertebrae. Trauma can cause one or more of these to bulge or be herniated and it can take some time to be noticeable depending on the severity of impact.
  • Dislocation fractures. This is one of the most common injuries suffered in a car accident. When one or more vertebrae fracture, the soft tissues move into the damaged area over time.
  • Soft tissue bruising and tearing. During a car accident, a number of muscles, tissue ligaments, and tendons can suddenly break or stretch. This type of back injury can cause excruciating pain, affecting thousands of nerve endings.
  • Axial bursts. If you were in an accident that caused a big impact, multiple vertebrae in your lumbar and cervical regions might have been damaged.

[Read more…]

Auto Accidents – A Skilled Injury Attorney Will Make The Difference

Car accidents happen all the time, and they oftentimes leave one or both parties with injuries that require medical attention. Medical bills are expensive and it is important that you are not financially ruined because of the fault of another. Consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer to fight for your interests, and make sure you are compensated for your medical bills and suffering.

Personal injury lawyers are especially important when you are in an accident with a commercial truck or other large corporately insured vehicle. The insurance and transportation companies want to settle with you as quickly as possible. Do not sign any papers they put in front of you without consulting an experienced personal injury lawyer even if what they are offering seems like a lot of money. If you waive them of liability by accepting their offer and it turns out you have more extensive medical bills than you thought at the time of signing, you are out of luck; you will have to cover the costs for yourself. [Read more…]

Child Custody and Visitation in Massachusetts

Divorce can be a stressful time. When children are involved, the experience can be even harder. Figuring out where the child or children will live often transitions into disagreements and arguments, particularly if both parents want sole custody of the children or if one parent feels like he or she is not getting fair visitation rights.

Massachusetts law concerning child custody and visitation is pretty clear-cut. First of all, if the parents were married, unless a judge has said otherwise, both parents temporarily share custody of the child until a permanent decision is made by the court. If the parents are unmarried, the mother has sole custody of the child unless a judge says otherwise. Permanent custody of the child can be broken up into four types of custody.

Sole legal custody– One parent has the right to make decisions about major issues such as where the child goes to school, what religious instructions the child receives, and when and how the child gets medical care.

Shared legal custody– Both parents are equally responsible to make decisions regarding things such as the above mentioned major issues in the child’s life. [Read more…]

Massachusetts Paternity Law

When a child is born to two married parents, the husband is the legal father and his name is put on the child’s birth certificate. However, in the diverse society in which we live, children are born into families of many different dynamics. When parents are unmarried, paternity must be legally established in order for the father to appear on the child’s birth certificate and have legal rights to the child. This is an important step since it also involves future rights of the child.

So, how is paternity established in Massachusetts?

Voluntary Vs. Involuntary

Paternity can be established voluntarily or involuntarily. When both parents agree on who the biological father is, they both sign a “Voluntary Acknowledgement of Parentage” in front of a notary pubic, establishing paternity voluntarily. This acknowledgement is then filed with the Registry of Vital Records, officially establishing paternity. [Read more…]

What is comparative fault in Massachusetts?

Practical application of comparative fault

For most people, it is a challenge to understand comparative fault. Therefore it is typically helpful to have a solid example of how the facts of the case will be looked at. Here is an example of what comparative fault is:

You are walking up a flight of stairs in a commercial building. You are with a friend and talking. Because you are distracted, you do not notice that there is a break in the handrail and you get your shirt sleeve stuck in the break causing you to fall down the stairs. You are seriously injured in the fall and have to have surgery and are out of work for several weeks. You feel you deserve to have your medical bills and lost wages compensated.

When reviewing the facts of your case, the court determines you are partially responsible for your fall because you were distracted. The property owner is at fault as well because they should have repaired the broken handrail.

The final determination is that you are 20% at fault for your injuries. Your injury award is determined to be $100,000. However, because you were 20% at fault, the maximum you will be awarded is $80,000.

The comparative fault threshold

It is important to understand that if you are found to be 50% responsible that you will be unable to collect any compensation under the personal injury laws in Massachusetts. Using the scenario above, you might be found to be 50% liable for your accident if the property owner placed a hazard sign on the stairway indicating there was a break in the handrail.

If you have been injured at a commercial facility such as a supermarket or shopping center, you may have the right to file a personal injury suit. Contact a Massachusetts personal injury attorney to determine what rights you have and what evidence you may have to provide.

Great experience helping my 88 year old father

Several years ago, my father and I met with Steve to report that my dads accountant had cheated him out of over $30,000 of his retirement funds. The accountant told my father that he would be investing this money for my dad, but never invested it and kept the money for himself. Steve tirelessly worked on this case over several years. My dad died at 91 but Steve never stopped working for our family. Steve won several judgments against the accountant and finally this year, Steve reached an agreement with the accountants attorney to settle.
My family deeply appreciates Steve’s hard work and getting justice for my Dad.

David

Property Owners’ and Landlords Legal Duty to Prevent Injury

If you are a property owner, you have many issues you have to be aware of legally. One of these is the property owner’s legal duty to prevent injury.

If you have tenants who are elderly, disabled, or prone to accident, this becomes especially concerning to you as a property owner, as you may wonder how much liability is involved in such cases.

The “Reasonable Safety” Clause

In general, as a landlord or property owner, you have a responsibility to exercise reasonable care for the safety of your tenants. If you find any dangerous conditions, you must repair these as soon as possible to avoid personal injury. This carries with it also a responsibility to hold regular inspections of the property, so that you will know if such a condition exists.

Warn or Repair

Once you locate a dangerous situation or become aware of it, you are required by Massachusetts law to do one of two things:

  • Repair the portion of the property or the issue which is causing the dangerous situation to exist.
  • Warn the tenants of the possibility of injuries which they could suffer due to the condition, so that they may take proper extra steps to protect themselves.

Liability of Property Owners

If someone is injured while on the property, you may be held liable for damages, depending upon the situation and whether or not you warned the person of the situation, attempted to repair it if possible, and whether or not the person was trespassing. [Read more…]

Great Attorney

A legal complaint was filed against me and Stephen Morte was key to my successful outcome. His confidence and professionalism gave me the faith to know that I could trust him to get a favorable outcome. He was easy to contact and offered a prompt and convenient meeting. He is native to metrowest and is well known and knowledgable in our legal system. I will recommend him to any one of my friends and family in need of a great Attorney.

Gregory

Massachusetts Motorcycle Accidents – What Cyclists Need To Know

If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, it is imperative to find a lawyer that has experience taking such cases to trial, and also has worked with accident reconstruction teams and insurance companies. Because of their reputation and the difficulties in presenting a case in court, juries and insurance companies can often be unfair in motorcycle accident cases.

As it is all across the U.S., motorcyclists in Massachusetts suffer from a disproportionate number of accidents and injuries, despite following almost all of the same road regulations as other drivers. Per mile traveled, motorcyclists have a 35 times greater risk of being fatally injured in an accident than a passenger car. Between 2001 and 2008 an estimated 1,222,000 people were treated in U.S. emergency rooms for non-fatal motorcycle injuries. According to the Hurt Report, failure from motorists to spot and recognize motorcyclists is the predominant cause in motorcycle accidents.

To lessen the danger, certain requirements present themselves to motorcycle drivers. The state of Massachusetts requires that all motorcyclists wear a helmet. And there is also a motorcycle safety program offered in 13 locations across the state. [Read more…]

Great choice for legal services !

I recently had Steve handle my divorce. He was able to see the big picture from the start, unlike myself who would tend to get hung up on the small things. He has a nice and honest way of connecting to his client. Always on top of issues and how to resolve them. I would highly recommend Steve for your legal needs.

Divorce client

Massachusetts Child Custody and Visitation Laws

Divorce is rarely easy, and even less so when it comes to custody and visitation arrangements for children. In Massachusetts, the top priority of the courts is to determine arrangements that are “in the best interests of the child”, but that may not always be as straightforward as it seems. This is not the time to try and do it yourself. Instead, seek competent legal representation and hire an attorney.

Massachusetts recognizes shared legal custody, sole legal custody, shared physical custody and sole physical custody. When a couple files for divorce, both parents are automatically granted temporary shared legal custody. This allows both parents to have equal responsibility (and rights) concerning major decisions like medical care, education and religious development. During what can be contentious times, differing ideas about the schooling or religious upbringing of children can surface. Having an attorney can make sure that these discussions and decisions remain on track and comply with the law. [Read more…]

Massachusetts Work Related Injuries

Massachusetts workers who are injured on the job often do not know where to turn if the insurer rejects their claim. There were nearly 70,000 workplace related injuries and illnesses in Massachusetts last year according to a report that was compiled with help from several agencies including Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development’s office.

Most Common Injury and illnesses

Fortunately, most of the injuries and illness that occurred in Massachusetts were not fatal. Some of the most common injuries reported included hearing loss, respiratory problems and skin conditions. Employees were divided among a number of industries with the most injury and illness reports occurring in construction and manufacturing, education and health services, and state government.

What happens after an accident or reported injury

Employees have an obligation to report workplace injuries and illnesses to their employers within five working days. After that, employers have an obligation to report to their insurance company who must contact you within 14 calendar days. If you don’t hear from the insurer, you may consider contacting the Department of Industrial Accidents Office of Insurance and you should also consider contacting a Massachusetts personal injury attorney. [Read more…]

Swimming Pool Accidents in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts if you are the owner of a private pool, either as an individual, corporation or perhaps part of a club or association, or if you manage a semi-public or a pool open to the public you are responsible for knowing the regulations and laws regarding pool safety.

Finding laws or regulations that govern safety issues for pools in Massachusetts can be a bit difficult. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts adopted the 2009 International Building Code, which governs swimming pool enclosures and safety devices. Here are several codes and regulations often overlooked by pool owners.

Massachusetts code states that residential pool owners must have a barrier covering their pool when not in use. The barrier should not have openings in it that would allow the passage of a 4-inch diameter sphere. The pool should also have self-closing gates. [Read more…]

Field Sobriety Tests in Massachusetts

In order to identify citizens who are driving under the influence of alcohol and certain drugs, police will often use Field Sobriety Tests to determine if a driver is under the influence. A driver is said to be under the influence of alcohol if their blood alcohol concentration is above 0.08%, and in commercial drivers the limit is set at 0.04%.

If a police officer believes that a driver is intoxicated, they may ask the driver to submit to several field sobriety tests. The horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the walk and turn test, and the one leg stand test are 3 field sobriety tests that are often used.

 The horizontal gaze nystagmus test can identify the use of alcohol or other drugs that depress the central nervous system by showing a nystagmus in the eye. A nystagmus is involuntary bouncing or jerking of the eyeball that occurs when one looks to the side. This involuntary bouncing or jerking can be either caused by alcohol intoxication or the use of other drugs such as inhalants or phencyclidine (aka PCP or Angel Dust). Alcohol and certain other drugs depress the central nervous system making it difficult for the brain to control the eye muscles. To administer the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, a police officer will position an object such as a pen or a finger about a foot away from the driver’s view. The officer will then note any bouncing or jerking movements of the driver’s eyes as they follow the pen with their eyes from side to side. [Read more…]

Are Parents Held Accountable for “Social Hosting” ?

It’s well-known that the legal drinking age in all states, including Massachusetts, is 21. However, what about “social hosting”? Social hosting refers to providing alcohol or other illegal substances to a minor that is not your own child on your property or in an environment you control. Especially during graduation time, some parents reason if they provide alcohol at a party at their private residence in a safe environment, ensuring that minors do not drink and drive, they are not committing a crime. Massachusetts’ “Social Host” law says that they are. Consider the consequences and situations covered by this law.

  • You could pay fines and go to jail. The penalty in Massachusetts for “social hosting” is a fine up to $2,000 and/or prison time for up to one year. Of course, if injury occurred, such as if a child died in an accident after leaving your home, you could be convicted of more serious crimes, resulting in a longer prison sentence.

[Read more…]

Domestic Violence Laws in Massachusetts

In the state of Massachusetts, domestic violence laws include physical harm or the intent to physically harm, the infliction of fear of physical harm, and involuntary sexual relationship against a family or other household member. This crime is especially serious if the victim was violated by the suspect while a protective order was in place.

Definition of a household member:

  • people who are or have once been married
  • individuals that have children together
  • individuals that are related through marriage or by blood
  • individuals who live together are have lived together, such as roommates

Assault can range from actual physical harm or the intent to commit physical harm against another individual. This means that even a serious threat to commit physical harm can be considered assault. Simple assault is in itself a crime, but in Massachusetts, assault against a family or household member is considered a much more serious offense. [Read more…]

An Experienced Attorney with Integrity

Steve Morte is a great attorney. Steve was there through every step of the process with my legal situation. Steve made me feel at ease and comfortable through the whole process and made me know he had everything under control. Steve’s communication was impeccable and I knew everything every step of the way. Steve genuinely cares about his clients and he displays that from the very beginning. I highly recommend Steve Morte if you are in need of an attorney from my experience with him.

David M.

Attorney Stephen Morte Criminal Defense

Attorney Morte assisted my daughter with a criminal motor vehicle issue. From the start, he was calm, knowledgeable and confident with all aspects of the trial and his preparation for it. The actual trial went just as attorney Morte had predicted and all charges against my daughter were dropped. The entire process was, for us, relatively effortless. What some friends told us could be a legal nightmare was, literally, a fifteen minute stop at trial court.

My daughter and I would heartily endorse attorney Morte for in situations where effective and professional criminal defense is warranted.

Criminal Defense client

Exceptional Attorney

Mr. Morte has represented me several times over the past twenty years, and while the results have been exceptional, I have been even more impressed with his calm manner, professional approach, and extensive knowledge of the law. I am particularly pleased with his unique ability to simply listen. I would reccomend Mr. Morte to anyone seeking an effective, and caring attorney.

Charles G.

What is Massachusetts Personal Injury Protection (PIP)?

In Massachusetts, when you’re injured in an auto accident, your insurance policy’s Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage should pay your medical bills and other expenses, but those aren’t the only benefits you’re entitled to recover. If you sustain a serious injury, an experienced personal injury attorney could also negotiate a settlement for damages due to your pain, suffering, any permanent disabilities, and lost wages.Massachusetts automobile statutes allow injury victims to collect additional damages from the legally responsible party if injuries or medical bills meet or exceed PIP tort thresholds.

PIP Tort Threshold

Massachusetts No Fault Laws recognize that injuries can have a significant impact on your life. The medical bills and lost wages covered by your Personal Injury Protection coverage were never intended to make up for permanent disabilities or other life altering conditions. The law gives you the right to sue the person who caused your accident if one of the following occurs. [Read more…]

Top Notch Divorce Attorney

Steve Morte’s guidance and advice throughout my difficult divorce was invaluable. He was patient and understanding and had my best interest in mind throughout the entire process. I appreciate him and his staff for helping me through a very challenging time in my life. I would highly recommend Steve to anyone looking for a good divorce attorney.

Debbie H.

Very Happy With Attorney Steve Morte

Attorney Morte worked on a case for us that two lawyers before him could not seem to resolve. We are very happy with the resolution of the case and would not hesitate to use him again.

Karen and John

An Outstanding Attorney

We have known Steve for over 30 years. He is an outstanding attorney. His thoughtful and calm demeanor, knowledge of the law, and legal judgement developed from years of practice, enable him to quickly focus on the important facts of a case and propose efficient and effective advice and solutions. Whenever we need an attorney whether for personnel or business needs Steve is the person we call.

Roger and Elizabeth

Experience and depth of knowledge about the law

We recognize Attorney G. Morte as the ATTORNEY-OF-CHOICE for your legal matters. When my husband and I had our first meeting with Mr. Morte, we were extremely distraught and overwhelmed as we had been dealing with a complicated and frustrating situation. Attorney Morte investigated all aspects of our case and dealt with our concerns both legally and financially. He has worked and is continuing to work on our behalf. With the highest degree of professionalism and integrity, there is no question we made the right choice for our legal issues. In today’s fast-paced society, Steve is calm, very patient and thorough. His years of experience and depth of knowledge about the law, combined with his sincerity will make you realize very quickly that you are working with an outstanding attorney.

Bob and Pat MacMillan

Understanding the Annulment Process in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, anyone who is no longer happy in their marriage can get a divorce for just about any reason. However, there are some cases where the marriage should not be legally recognized in the first place. In these situations, an annulment may be the best option. Understanding the annulment process in Massachusetts can help determine if this is an option for you to consider.

Who Qualifies
In general terms, couples qualify for an annulment in Massachusetts based on social or religious reasons. Some of the most common reasons for granting an annulment over a divorce include:

  • Marrying a close relative.
  • Fraud.
  • Impotence in one party.
  • Mental incompetence.
  • Presence of a hidden contagious disease.
  • One party is already married.
  • One party is underage and unable to consent.
  • Coercion.

As long as you can prove one of these situations, you may be granted an annulment. However, some of these situations have additional requirements, and consulting with an experienced family law attorney may be your best option. If your situation doesn’t fall into one of these primary categories, you may still consult with an attorney to find out if you qualify. [Read more…]

Discovery Process in Massachusetts Divorce

When deciding to pursue a divorce in Massachusetts, certain processes must be completed by each party in an effort to fairly divide marital assets and debts. Financial disclosure procedures play an integral part in the divorce process. The information gathered by disclosures can affect the outcome of a divorce, and according to Massachusetts law, these rules must be followed exactly to ensure each party receives what they are due.

Financial Statement Long Form
If you or your spouse’s salary exceeds $75,000 a year in gross income, you must complete the Financial Statement Long Form. The long form is substantial, and it will take some time to properly fill out. This form will require you to provide proof of income from a variety of sources. For instance you must disclose base salary information including any overtime you preformed, tips you made, bonuses paid, or commissions from sales. In addition, information must be provided regarding self-employment, funds from disability or Welfare, and interest made on investment accounts. The Long Form will also require you to disclose your debts such as business expenses and deductions for household utilities and health insurance. [Read more…]

Filing for divorce in Massachusetts

The legal process of divorce in Massachusetts can be complicated; therefore, it is in the best interest of each individual to consider hiring an attorney who focuses on Massachusetts divorce and family law, even if the divorce is considered “uncontested.” Before filing for divorce in Massachusetts you will have to consider the following:

 Residency Requirements
In Massachusetts, the couple must have lived as spouses in the state in order to petition for divorce. If the cause of divorce happened within Massachusetts, one spouse must be considered a resident of the sate. If the grounds for divorce occurred out of the state, the plaintiff must have lived in Massachusetts for the period of one year prior to filing for divorce.

 What is Considered Fault Grounds for Divorce
Fault grounds for divorce within Massachusetts can include, but are not limited to:

  • Adultery
  • Spousal/child abuse
  • Alcohol or drug dependency
  • Financial and emotional neglect of a spouse
  • Marriage is considered “irreparable”
  • One spouse has deserted the marriage for at least one year prior to filing
  • One spouse has been incarcerated for 5 years or more

[Read more…]

What is reckless endangerment of a child under Massachusetts law?

When applied to children, it’s putting a child in grave danger due to negligence of a particular act. In the state of Massachusetts, it usually works under two different legal scenarios. The first is the act of creating the risk, and the second is not doing anything to prevent that risk.

Creating Substantial Risk

The first half of the Massachusetts reckless endangerment law needs to be proven in court before any injury claims may be made. Evidence needs to prove that the person who created the substantial risk to a child under 18 did it in a way that caused severe bodily injury. Those injuries could be from driving recklessly in a vehicle to sexual abuse.

[Read more…]

Jury Verdict in Boston Metrowest Personal Injury Case

A twenty-two year old Marlborough man recently was awarded a verdict of $215,000.00, in addition to receiving another $28,000.00 by way of settlement, after suffering a broken arm in a car accident.

This young man was a passenger in a vehicle, when it was suddenly struck by a U-Haul truck, whose driver tried to make a U-turn on Route 290 in Northborough.

The case had previously gone to mediation where the insurance company’s highest offer was $83,000.00.  The plaintiff will receive interest on the jury award which, combined with the original award, will total $238,000.00.

Am I Entitled To My Wife’s Inherited Property As Part Of The Division Of Divorce Assets?

Massachusetts is known as an equitable division state wherein the Court under M.G.L.c. 208 §34 considers a number of factors in dividing up the estate.  Among those factors are the length of the marriage, the conduct of the parties during the marriage, the age, health and station, occupation, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability future estates, liabilities and needs of each party.

It doesn’t matter if you were the primary wage earner or your contribution was that of a homemaker, the Court will look at all factors.

As it pertains to inherited property, the Court looks at when the inheritance came into the marriage, the length of the marriage and the possibilities of future acquisition of assets from other sources.  While there is no set formula, there are some judges that will grant the spouse who doesn’t inherit 1.5% for each year of the marriage.  However, it should be noted that judges have a fair amount of discretion and as long as they don’t abuse that discretion, they won’t be overturned.