How Much Of The Marital Assets Am I Entitled To Keep Upon Divorce In Massachusetts?

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.

Generally speaking, if the marriage is a long term marriage and most of the assets were acquired during the marriage, the Court will look to divide up the assets equally.

Should You File as a Fault or No-Fault Divorce in Massachusetts?

Massachusetts divorce has specific rules that differ from some other states, specifically in two varieties of divorces. Filing for “no fault” or “fault” divorces might sound as simple as they sound. Regardless, both may not always be simple with “fault” divorces always being the most complicated.

Some of the details involved can make even a “no fault” divorce more complicated if there isn’t a specific reason behind a marital split.

The “No-Fault” Divorce

These type of divorces are easier in Massachusetts because they’re non-contested cases. It’s when a couple amicably agrees that neither one is to blame for the divorce despite knowing the marriage is over. When there’s a fortunate enough situation where there’s no contention, these type of divorces can usually be completed within a few months. But the court may contest such a move if there isn’t a clear reason behind whats deemed “irretrievable breakdown of marriage.”

That’s when “no fault” divorces can veer off into more complicated territory. It’s also why these cases are divided up into two subcategories. The first is when both parties agree to be involved in the proceedings. The second is when only one person in the couple files for a “no fault” divorce and the other doesn’t. A hearing is done six months after filing the complaint and where the other spouse can agree to the divorce or not.
[Read more…]

Massachusetts Business Dispute Case

An Essex Superior Court judge recently awarded a 50% interest in a rug cleaning business to the client, which with interest totaled more than $77,000.00.  The defendant claimed that the plaintiff had voluntarily left the business, which contained little in terms of assets having no real estate or cleaning equipment of its own.  The defendant claimed the business had no value and that the plaintiff had abandoned the business and did not pursue his interest for several years.

After three days of trial, judgment was rendered in favor of Attorney Morte’s client, who is now a resident of Florida.

Abraham Lincoln’s Notes for a Law Lecture

This document fragment was dated July 1, 1850 by Abraham Lincoln’s White House secretaries, John Nicolay and John Hay, who collected many of his manuscripts after his death. The note in the Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln indicates that Lincoln could have written these observations several years later than 1850. It is not known, however, if Lincoln ever delivered this lecture.

In these notes Lincoln provides a glimpse of how he worked and the high standards of diligence and honesty he set. He has sharp words for the dishonest and unscrupulous members of the bar, calling them “fiends” and “knaves.” He warns prospective lawyers, “if in your own judgment you cannot be an honest lawyer, resolve to be honest without being a lawyer.”

Several months after the president’s death, his law partner, William Herndon, stated that “Mr. Lincoln was an honest lawyer. He carried his personal and individual honor to the bar.” Herndon, who worked with Lincoln for 17 years, said “He kept his integrity and individuality through his professional career.”

[Read more…]

My Spouse Was The Breadwinner In Our Household So All Of The Assets Are Held In His Name. Am I Entitled To Half Of The Value In Massachusetts?

It matters little to the Court who has title to the assets.  If an asset was acquired during the marriage, it will be deemed marital property despite the asset being in one name or another.  Often time, people think that they can set aside the asset because it is in a trust, but that is not the case.  The Court looks at both the legal and equitable owner of assets, as well as when the asset was acquired.

Most honest and dedicated lawyer I have come across

Stephen Morte is a reliable and diligent lawyer. I have used him on more than one occasion and he has always done his best to give me favorable results in court. Stephen is responsive, returns calls right away, gives free consults, and is more than knowledgable about recent laws and statutes. If you are looking for a great lawyer that gets the job done, give him a call and at least set up a consult. I firmly believe it will be worth your time and money in the end.

Bob, a DUI client

New MA Child Support Guidelines

Massachusetts has revised the Child Support Guidelines with the new guidelines taking effect on August 1, 2013. The guidelines adjust the formula for child support and provides judges a little more use of their discretion in determining the total amount of income from both parties.

Read the new Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines.

Reasons You May Need a Spousal Support Modification

Years ago, just about anyone could receive spousal support as part of their divorce settlement. However, today, many states, including Massachusetts, have instated more guidelines to determine who will receive alimony. In general terms, short-term marriages will not qualify, though the courts may consider income discrepencies, the health of the parties and other factors in making a final decision. Regardless of that decision, though, there are reasons why you may need to modify the results.

Remarriage
In many cases, if the spouse who is receiving the support marries or moves in with someone else before the alimony period ends, the support should immediately end. However, it is often up to the payer to take the other party to court to put an end to the support officially through the courts. This reason is one of the easiest ones to prove, eliminating the support payments from the date of the marriage.

Failure to Pay
Not everyone will readily pay the amount of money ordered by the court. If your ex has been ordered to pay you spousal support and those payments have fallen behind, it may be time to talk to a lawyer. While you aren’t likely to gain more money from taking your ex back to court over the missed payments, the judge can increase the amount your ex has to pay each month. Garnishment may also be an option to help you obtain the money you are entitled to. [Read more…]

How Is Spousal Support Determined In Massachusetts?

One of the most common questions when going through a divorce is about spousal support. Spousal support is often called alimony, and it is a word that many people hear but don’t quite understand. When you hear about divorces involving famous people, most often there are large amounts of money named. You may hear about alimony payments in the millions when a movie star divorces, or in cases of people who are very rich. But what if you or your spouse don’t earn more than six figures? Does alimony still come into play? The answer is simply that it could. Alimony is based on the financial situation of each spouse.

In Massachusetts, alimony can be awarded to either spouse, and is gender neutral. The judge bases the decision on several factors such as –

  • How long the marriage lasted
  • The age and health of each spouse
  • The income of each spouse
  • Employability or employment of each spouse
  • Any training required for one spouse to find employment
  • The contribution of each spouse to the marriage
  • The standard of living during the marriage
  • Any lost opportunity of a spouse during marriage

[Read more…]

How to Protect Your Credit Through Divorce

Divorce can be very emotional and quite often important tasks fall through the cracks. Protecting your credit is important and should be a priority. Here are a few tips to help you protect your credit through divorce.

1. Take inventory. Pull your credit report to get an idea of everything that is out there. Be aware that some lines of credit may not be reported to a credit bureau. For example, you may have a credit account with your dentist office or other private service provider. Look through past records to try to identify any creditor you may have overlooked that is not on your credit report.

2. Remove your spouse as an authorized user. Your credit report will note who is an authorized user on an account. Leaving your spouse as an authorized user is dangerous. It gives them the authority to charge, but not the responsibility for the debt. You can have them removed by simply calling the credit card company. Additionally, it’s just as important for you to be removed as an authorized user on your spouse’s accounts. If your spouse does not pay, that unsettled debt can be reflected on your credit report. If your spouse refuses to do it, call the credit card company yourself. If they will not allow you to remove yourself, contact the credit reporting agency and dispute their including it on your credit report.

3. Separate joint accounts. This can be more difficult. The details of separating joint accounts will vary depending on the divorce settlement. For example, the person who stays in the house may be responsible for paying the mortgage. If this is the case, it would be best to refinance into the responsible person’s name. If it’s not possible to separate a joint account, add conditions to your divorce settlement to protect yourself. For example, if your spouse is going to miss a payment, they must notify you in advance. It’s not fair for you to make the payment, but doing so will protect your credit. Keep track of those instances so you can recover the funds in court at a later time. Ask the lender to send a copy of the statement to both of you, so you can keep track of any delinquencies. [Read more…]

Woman Who Suffers a Finger Amputation Recovers

A young woman, who was sitting on a restaurant stool at Boston Logan Airport suddenly experienced a sudden amputation of her index finder when the chair that she was sitting on, because of defects in the way it was maintained and assembled, severed the tip of her finger. She was rushed to Mass General Hospital where they attempted to reattach the severed portion of the finger.

After a thorough inspection of the chair and retention of an expert to evaluate the chair, it was determined that the chair was improperly maintained and that the seat pan was improperly installed.

Ultimately, the case was successfully mediated in Boston.

Complaint Seeking Reduction of Child Support Causes an Increase in Support

After an ex-husband inherited several properties, he claimed suddenly that he was unable to work because of a major depressive episode that left him incapable of returning back to his former employment. He filed a complaint seeking to lower his support obligation.

After spending several years in court seeking to reduce the support obligation, he was ordered to pay increased support, plus $10,000.00 in back support. While the litigation was long, the results were excellent.

Deceptive Trade Practices and Breach of Contract

In a classic case putting a small Massachusetts packaging company against Timex Corp., the small guy comes up on top.

The client, a small packaging company located in Worcester county, worked for years designing and developing packaging for Timex watches. After hundreds of prototypes and countless years of work, the company came up with a design that Timex liked. Suddenly, despite promises of future contracts, Timex disappeared.

Sometime later, while visiting Wal-Mart, an executive from the company saw Timex watches displayed and distributed in packaging that they designed, but was now being manufactured in China.

This company sued on the basis of breach of contract, trademarks’ violations and unfair and deceptive trade practices. Not only did the company recover their damages, but they recovered their attorney’s fees as well.

Mailman’s Recovery

A mail courier working for the U.S. Post Office fell and injured his shoulder when delivering mail. The mail carrier fell through a porch that was being reconstructed and left unguarded. Ultimately, the mail carrier had shoulder surgery, which the defendant maintained wasn’t related to the fall.

A recovery was fully made to compensate the client for his lost income and uninsured medical expenses.

Sudden Denial of Mortgage

Despite a commitment from a bank to provide financing for the purchase of a new home, that bank, suddenly and without warning, decided that they would not provide financing. As a result, the client lost all his deposit money and was not able to purchase his home.

This sudden breach of contract was actionable and suit was brought against this bank, which was located in Pennsylvania.

A recovery of all the client’s losses resulted such that the client was made whole.

Alimony Denial

A recent divorced client, who was facing years of potential alimony payments, was relieved and satisfied to obtain a complete waiver of past, present and future alimony.

With recent changes in Massachusetts related to the payment of alimony, many men face the potential of alimony payments that could linger until they retire. With the advent of legislature in 2012 related to the payment of alimony that considers both the duration of the marriage, as well as years spent together prior to the marriage, men especially are concerned about the prospects of paying up to thirty-five percent of the gross income to a former spouse.

Fortunately, an agreement was able to be reached for this gentleman, where he will no longer have to be concerned with any future alimony payment.

What happens if after we settle we determine we need further medical care and or have permanent disabilities?

Additional Information: Several months ago, my daughter and I were involved in a serious car accident in Hudson, MA. My daughter suffered a brain injury, among other injuries and was diagnosed as clinically depressed after the accident. I am having continued dibilitating migraines and am being monitored by a neurologist. Since we don’t know what our future medical needs will be, how do they calculate an appropriate settlement? The insurance company has already offered a settlement and we have no idea if it is appropriate or not. What happens if after we settle we determine we need further medical care and or have permanent disabilities?

Attorney Answer:

Brain injury cases are extremely complex and need a team of professionals to properly evaluate the case and help you towards resolution. Most importantly it is important to get your daughter proper medical care with a neurologist and a neuropsychologist. They can help determine the extent and duration of your daughter’s injuries. A lawyer who has had experience in the area of head or brain injuries can use that information to settle the case with the insurance company or persuade a jury.

Isn’t there a law in Massachusetts banning texting while driving?

Additional Information:  I was involved in a automobile accident in Marlboro a few days ago.  The other driver admitted that he was texting on his cell phone when he ran the red light and hit my car.  I was taken to the hospital and have a broken arm, and ribs and will need physical therapy.  Isn’t there a law in Massachusetts banning texting while driving? How will that affect my personal injury case?

Attorney Answer
First, yes there is a law that bans texting and the fact that he was texting is evidence of negligence which is what would have to be proved if you were to recover. The violation of any law such as the texting law goes to the heart of proving that the defendant was negligent and ultimately responsible for your injuries. Also the fact that he ran a red light is also a violation of law and evidence of his negligence.

Attorney Morte stands far above the rest.

Attorney Morte will get the job done with finesse and professionalism

I was shocked on one particular Sunday morning to learn that I had my first court appearance for my divorce coming up on Friday. I was not represented at that time so I immediately got on line to seek council. Attorney Morte returned my inquiry in less than one hour with a personal phone call…on a Sunday morning. We met for the first time in his office on that Friday at 6:30 am, just two hours before our court appearance, and with very little knowledge of the case, went on like a true professional in court. He has since continued to be a very honest and trustworthy person who closed my case to my complete satisfaction. I would certainly recommend him to anyome requiring council. Two side notes; My ex wife’s attorney complimented Attorney Morte on two seperate occassions for his abilities. And to this day, none of my other Sunday morning inquiries for council have even bothered to return my calls. Attorney Morte stands far above the rest.

R. Thompson – Divorce Client

How do I get a divorce when she is out of state?

Additional Information:  How would I go about getting a divorce when she lives in another state and I live in Massachusetts? I sent her money to file for divorce but she never did. I am now ready to take the steps to do this myself.

Answer:

This question involves the somewhat complicated issue of jurisdiction. Generally so long as you were married or last lived together in Massachusetts and you are a resident, you can file a complaint for divorce here. You would have serve your wife the complaint through a sheriff or constable in the state where she resides and she would then be subject to the jurisdiction of the Massachusetts courts. Another alternative would be to hire a lawyer in the state where your wife resides and file a complaint for divorce there. Generally this would not be advisable as you will have to that state whenever there is a matter before the court. Ideally you should speak to a Massachusetts divorce lawyer who can help guide you through the process.

Is there a temporary modification to divorce agreement?

Additional Information:

As part of our divorce agreement I am responsible for providing health insurance for my ex-wife, and our children.  I just got laid off and it’s going to be difficult making ends meet.  After paying rent for my home in Marlborough, COBRA will be my second biggest expense.  Health insurance is available through her employer and is definitely less expensive than COBRA.  Can I request at least a temporary modification order?

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

The most important question to ask is whether or not your agreement is modifiable. If it is, you can have your attorney file a complaint for modification based on a material change of circumstances. The modification complaint would be on the sole issue of whether there was a material change in circumstances that would warrant a revision of the separation agreement.  [Read more…]

Ex spouse just received promotion, am I now entitled to alimony?

Additional Information:

My ex-wife and I got divorced just over 2 years ago.  She was recently promoted to partner at her Westborough law firm.  She now makes significantly more money than I do.  I supported her as she was studying to become a lawyer.  Am I now entitled to alimony and if so, what is the process to modify the divorce agreement?

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

There are two components to your question that need to be addressed. First, you should have an attorney review the agreement to determine if there was a waiver of future alimony and second the agreement must be viewed to determine whether it survives as in independent legal contract or if it is modifiable related to the issue of alimony. As you probably know Massachusetts has enacted a new alimony law which defines when alimony is warranted and for how long. It is important to review this law to understand how a judge might rule in your case.  [Read more…]

Arbitration Award: $36,389.00

Car Accident Injury

A Framingham man received an award of $36,389.00 after suffering a back injury in a motor vehicle accident.  The accident happened in October of 2009 and was arbitrated in September of 2012.  The client suffered no lost wages, but did suffer in a limitation of activities that he could reasonably perform.  The arbitration award was offset by P.I.P. payments made on his behalf.

How do I modify a restraining order to have contact with my wife?

Additional Information:

Is it a violation of a protective order in MA to discuss matters with protected party if attorneys are present?  I have recently been served a restraining order which does not permit me with any contact with my wife, however, there are many things I would like to discuss, involving the children, reconciliation, therapy and counseling.  Do I need to file a motion to seek peaceful contact?  Would it help if my attorney or other party was there?

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

Yes, you would seek to modify the restraining order so as to allow you to either meet with her or communicate. This can be easily done by going to the court that issued the order and seeking to modify so as to allow contact.  [Read more…]

How do I protect myself and my child from abusive boyfriend?

Additional Information:

I recently filed charges for 2 incidents of domestic violence.   One of the incidents was about 6 months ago, the other was last weekend.  My live in boyfriend grabbed my throat and pushed me down a flight of stairs. I didn’t report the first incident because I was scared and he threatened to hurt my daughter if I told anyone.  How do I protect myself and my daughter?  We rent an apartment in Leicester. Will the landlord be required to change the locks?

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

The incident that you described is very serious and you should work first with your local police to get the protection that you need. Not only should you be getting  a restraining order, criminal charges should be pursued through the police for the assault and battery. You should also, as part of the restraining order, get a support order. The next thing that you should do is to hire an attorney and pursue custody and support orders in the Probate Court.  [Read more…]

Will my husband get half of this asset when we divorce?

Additional Information:

When my husband and I got married, instead of a having a big expensive wedding, my parents gifted me about $30K.  We ended up putting the money toward the down payment on our home in Shrewsbury that we bought together.  I am now filing for a divorce, will my husband get half of this asset?

 ATTORNEY ANSWER:

The key to your question is that they gifted the property and as such have made no condition of repayment. Judges in divorce actions attempt to divide up the marital assets in an equitable manner looking at a number of factors including the length of the marriage, the source of the asset and the contributions of the parties.

The judges are required to review many factors and as such you should certainly hire an attorney that works in the area of matrimonial law.   [Read more…]

Can my brother become my son’s gaurdian if I die or can my ex get custody?

Additional Information:

My wife and I got divorced two years ago and I got sole custody of our 5 year-old son.  My question is if I put it in my will that my brother will be the beneficiary of my home in Northborough and become guardian of my son if I die, will that happen or can my wife get custody if she wants?

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

Issues related to the care custody and wellbeing of children are almost always modifiable on a change of circumstances. Just because you have custody of your son now doesn’t mean that she won’t seek a revision of that at a later time if there is a material change of circumstances. You can put in a provision in your will that you would like your brother to be his guardian but the court may decide who is the best person to have custody based on the best interests of the child.  [Read more…]

If I know someone is dealing drugs do I legally have to tell the police?

Additional Information:

I’ve been dating this guy for about 4 months and found out he is dealing drugs. I’ve never been part of any of it, but I suspected it and just recently found out for sure when someone he obviously didn’t know came to his apartment in Boylston and there was an exchange.  I don’t want to get into any trouble and I don’t want him to get in any trouble.  Do I legally have to tell the police what I know?

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

This is very serious issue and you should definitely not speak to the police who if you provide evidence may also charge you with conspiracy. You should speak to legal counsel who can advise you regarding this matter to avoid legal action against you.  [Read more…]

Can we refuse to press charges so the case goes away?

Additional Information:

My friend and I got into a fight outside a bar in Berlin.  The police witnessed it and arrested us both for assault but neither wants to press charges against the other. So, is there anything we can do, like refuse to press charges so the whole thing goes away?

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

Unfortunately once the matter is in the Commonwealth’s hands, the District Attorney has the power to decide to prosecute and may do so if he has enough evidence to do so. There are a number of things that you both may do to avoid prosecution but you should speak to an attorney about a possible accord and satisfaction or a decision to invoke the 5th Amendment right not to testify or provide evidence. Under no circumstance should you try to negotiate with the District Attorney without legal counsel. [Read more…]

How do we handle the financial aspects of a divorce?

Additional Information:

My husband moved out of our Southboro home almost 2 years ago.  We’re on good terms with one another and share custody of our 2 children.  He currently pays for daycare for our son and I’d like to ask him to help with the children’s medical/dental expenses.  We have no assets to divide.

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

Unless and until you have orders from the Probate Court, you do not have anything that is enforceable at law. My advice would be to file a divorce action and seek temporary orders as soon as possible in order to establish the obligations for child support and medical insurance.  [Read more…]

Do we need to get a divorce in MA or can we stay separated indefinitely?

Additional Information:

I left my husband a couple of years ago and moved away (we were married in Marlborough, MA).  When I left, we just needed a break.   We have no kids, I don’t intend to remarry and I’m not on his health insurance or vice versa.  We haven’t kept in touch and I’m wondering if we can stay separated indefinitely?  Does leaving the marriage constitute abandonment or something like that?

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

You may continue to remain married but separated however your legal status would prevent you from legally marrying until you get divorced and being potentially liable for his actions (such as his debt ) until such time as you get divorced. My best advice is that if you don’t intend to get back together then you or he should file for divorce and resolve any outstanding issues in a divorce agreement.  [Read more…]

My 17 year old daughter was arrested for shoplifting. What’s the best way to handle this?

Additional Information:

My 17 year old daughter was caught for shoplifting at the Natick Mall.   She has never been in trouble with the law before and I was shocked she would try to steal a $20 DVD.  I thought it was handled by the store manager, but Natick police got involved and now she has to appear for a hearing.  She’s only 17 and has her whole life ahead of her.  I’d hate for this poor decision to follow her for the rest of her life. What’s the best way to handle this?

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

I would advise you to hire a criminal attorney familiar with the court system. While shoplifting cases are misdemeanors and it would not be likely to involve any harsh penalty, it would be very important to keep your daughter’s record clean as it may affect her for the rest of her life.  [Read more…]

Should we hire a criminal defense attorney for our son?

Additional Information:

Our son is a freshman in college at a Boston school and was home visiting for the holiday break.  While out with some friends he was arrested by the Sudbury police for possession of a small amount of cocaine. My wife and I want the best possible result for him and are contemplating hiring an attorney to defend him, but we’re not sure if it’s worth it.  Will he just end up with the same type of plea bargain?

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

Wouldn’t it be a shame to find out years from now that you should have hired an attorney to investigate and determine what defenses might be available to him. I often get calls from individuals who come to me years after the event and try to correct a situation that might have been remedied at the time. You should always hire an attorney when there is a serious charge like drug possession. That attorney would investigate whether your son has valid legal defenses and can advise you regarding the possible ramifications of any plea deal.  [Read more…]

General Litigation – $575,00.00 on counterclaim

General Litigation

A Sterling, Massachusetts company received a $575,000.00 settlement as a result of a counterclaim for damages related to a wood chipper that was contaminated by a fuel delivery person pouring diesel fuel into the hydraulic oil tank.  The settlement encompassed both damages to the machine itself in the amount of $50,000.00, plus economic loss for the time the wood chipper was unable to produce income for the company.

The case involved experts in the field of chemical engineering and mechanical engineering.  The case settled shortly before the selection of the jury.

I fell and injuried myself in a Southborough MA restaurant.

Additional Information:

I fell and injured my knee at a restaurant in Southborough.  The carpeting was loose.  There were several other patrons who tripped over the carpet before me, and this all happened in front of the hostess stand.  I’ve had knee surgery and continue physical therapy.  Do I have a case against the restaurant and can I sue for damages as I will probably not be able to participate in sports like I had in the past?

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

The owner of property has a responsibility to those who are on the premises legally to keep the property free from defects and to provide a reasonably safe environment. I believe that on the facts you have a strong case to hold the owner responsible for your injuries. [Read more…]

What’s our liability if our dog bites someone?

Additional Information:

We live in Framingham, MA and I just got a German Sheppard for my kids. My wife is concerned about our liability if the dog bites someone when she gets older. I thought this would be covered by our homeowners insurance.   Is that so? Thank you in advance for your help.

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

Massachusetts has a strict liability standard regarding injuries caused by animals and pets. The owner of the animal can be held liable for any injuries caused by the animal except in rare circumstances. [Read more…]

Will money earned after separation be awarded to my ex?

Additional Information:

My wife and I have been separated for over a year. I am living with a new partner and considering starting my own business. Will my wife have any claim on the monies when we go through the divorce?

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

Until the divorce has been finalized the court may divide up assets even though they may have been acquired after the separation. Therefore you should seek to get the divorce done as soon as you can to protect yourself. [Read more…]

In MA, can child support be modified without going to court?

Additional Information:

My ex and I have agreed to lowered payments and we have drawn up a new agreement which we both signed.  Is what we did legally binding or can she sue me for back child support?

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

The agreement should be filed and approved by the court in order for it to be valid. It would be necessary to file a complaint for modification and then seek to have the agreement brought before the judge. [Read more…]

Can you explain the law in MA regarding leaving the scene of an accident?

Additional Information:

My 22-year old daughter was involved in a minor accident in a shopping plaza in Framingham, MA.  She doesn’t know if she caused damage to the parked car she hit.  She left the parking area without leaving her contact information and now she’s wondering what she should do.  Can you please explain the law in this situation and her legal responsibilities? Thanks.

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

It is a crime to leave the scene after knowingly causing personal injury or property damage. There may be extenuating circumstances and she should contact a lawyer to discuss the facts of her case in order to determine how best to handle any charges that may be pending. [Read more…]

What is the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor in Massachusetts?

Additional Information:

What is the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor in Massachusetts? Does it have to do with whether you can go to jail or not if you get convicted or is it some other factor? Thanks.

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

Generally speaking the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor is the amount of time one would serve. A felony which is more serious  would be served in a state’s prison. A misdemeanor would be served in a house of correction or a jail. A felony charge would include crimes like murder, rape assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. A misdemeanor charge would include crimes like driving under the influence,larceny under $250.00 and a simple assault. [Read more…]

In Massachusetts, how are assets divided in a divorce?

Additional Information:

We have been married for over thirty years, unfortunately, I now realize that all of our assets are in my husband’s name.  Does this mean that if I file for divorce I will not get anything?

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

Not at all.  It matters little to a Probate Judge whose name the property is in.  Rather, the Judges in Massachusetts try to make an equitable division of all assets and liabilities, which generally mean that the property acquired during the course of the marriage, should be divided equally.

[Read more…]

I’ve witnessed some sexual harassment at work.

Additional  Information:

I have been working for this company for only six months.  While there, I have noticed that my boss has been sexually harassing some of my co-workers.  I have been asked to give a statement about what I witnessed, but I am worried that I will be fired.  What can I do?

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

If your employer were to treat you differently or terminate you, you would be able to sue him for retaliation.  Although it is never easy to stand up for someone else, if you do, you should be assured that the law will protect you.  If you fear this may happen, please call an Employment lawyer who concentrates in the area of trial work.

[Read more…]

In long term marriage with aggressive husband, how do I legally protect myself and our children?

Additional Information:

I have been married for over eighteen years and we have two children together.  Since the children were born, we decided that I would stay at home and raise them.  My husband has been getting more aggressive with me and I worry that things may happen.  I do not want to leave the house, as I have no place to go.

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

If you feel threatened or intimidated by your husband’s actions, or if your husband gets violent with you, you should call the police immediately.  They can help you get an Abuse Prevention Order, which will protect you.  You should then call a lawyer that concentrates in the area of Domestic Relations or Divorce.  That lawyer can file a motion for temporary orders to make certain that you get the protection from the Court that you need, as well as making sure that you get adequate child and spousal support.

[Read more…]

I am pregnant. Are there any laws protecting my employment?

Additional  Information:

I have been working for my company for over three years.  Recently I became pregnant and informed my supervisor of the fact.  Since that time, he has been acting differently towards me.  I am worried that I may be fired.  I know that I am an “employee at will” according to the employee’s handbook, but I wonder if there are any laws protecting me.

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

Absolutely, Massachusetts has laws protecting employees relating to discrimination because of maternity.  M.G..L.c. 151B §4(1) and M.G.L.c. 149 §105D prevent against sexual discrimination in the workplace and discrimination based on maternity.  You should immediately call a lawyer who handles Employment Discrimination cases.

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