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February 2015 Archives

Automatic Restraining Orders Pending Judgment of Divorce

Supplemental Rule 411 provides that the automatic issuance of a restraining order is applicable to both parties to a complaint for divorce or separate support.  The restraining order is effective with regard to the plaintiff upon the filing of the complaint and with regard to the defendant upon service of the summons and complaint or any other acceptance of service by the defendant.

Uniform Interstate Family Support Act: No More Conflicting Court Orders

One order, one court with exclusive jurisdiction.  That is the core concept of the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act ("UIFSA"), M.G.L. c. 209D.  UIFSA seeks to solve the problem of conflicting support orders issued by courts in different jurisdictions.  UIFSA establishes the procedural framework for the establishment, enforcement and modifications of child support and spousal support orders.

How New Massachusetts Regulations are Changing Assisted Living Residences

There are currently 226 Assisted Living Residences in Massachusetts which must be certified every two years and must comply with the regulations.  The Executive Office of Elder Affairs Assisted Living Certification program oversees the certification process.  

Child Support in Paternity Proceedings

Massachusetts General Law chapter 209C governs the laws and procedures governing adjudication of paternity disputes as to children born out of wedlock.   The underlying policy of chapter 209C is that "children born to parents who are not married to each other shall be entitled to the same rights and protections of the law as all other children."  The purpose of G.L. 209C is to provide a procedure for adjudication of paternity, and "to have an order for support and to have a declaration relative to their custody or visitation rights."

Admissibility of Emails at Trial

Nearly everyone uses electronic mail (email) today in order to communicate with bosses, spouses, friends, relatives, girlfriend, and boyfriends.  Emails are very pertinent in litigation as they can prove or disprove a case.  In family law matters, they can be used to prove abuse, to impeach credibility, or to show intent and conduct.  

Parental Right to Counsel in Private Guardianship Cases

In the case, Guardianship of V.V., the Supreme Judicial Court was faced with the issue of whether a parent whose minor child is the subject of a guardianship proceeding pursuant to G.L. c. 190B, § 5-206, and who cannot afford counsel, has a right to have counsel appointed and to be so informed.

Definition of Income for Calculating Child Support and Alimony

The definition of income in the Massachusetts Child Support Guide lines (guidelines) is broad and includes twenty-nine specifically identified sources of income.  For purposes of these guidelines, income is defined as gross income from whatever source regardless of whether that income is recognized by the Internal Revenue Code or reported to the Internal Revenue Service or State Department of Revenue or other taxing authority.  Those sources include, but are not limited to, the following:

Military Pension Division and Domestic Violence

Even if a domestic violence case is initiated by civilian authorities and disposed of in a civilian state court, the servicemember still can suffer potentially severe military consequences depending on the outcome and the direction of the proceedings.

Achieving a Better Life Experiencing Act for Persons with Disabilities

The Achieving a Better Life Experience Act ("ABLE ACT") was signed into law by President Obama on December 19, 2014.  Until now, disabled people could have no more than $2,000 in savings, without risking their eligibility for Social Security Disability, Medicaid, and other public benefits.  Under the new law, a person with a disability can save up to $14,000 per year, and up to $100,000 total, and retain his or her eligibility for these benefits.

The Role of a Guardian Ad Litem in Domestic Relations Cases

On occasion, disputes occur between divorcing parents concerning the care and custody of their children.  When they do, the court may appoint an attorney to serve as a Guardian ad Litem (GAL).  Unlike an attorney who advocates a client's position, the GAL is required to investigate the issues identified by the court, determine what is in the best interest of the child, and make recommendations based on facts gathered during the investigation.

New Developments Under the Massachusetts Alimony Reform Act

The Supreme Judical Court rendered decisions in three cases, Chin v. Merriot, Rodman v. Rodman, and Doktor v. Doktor, to determine whether modification of an obligation to pay periodic or general term alimony that is contained in a merged provision of a divorce judgment is governed by the Alimony Reform Act of 2012, where the act became effective after the date of entry of the judgment.

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