Dealing with False Allegations During Child Custody & Divorce

It seems like everyone knows a story about false allegations during child custody and divorce. One spouse points the finger at the other and receives a restraining order from the court. The wife or husband recognizes that doing this will, almost by default, give them custody of the children and exclusive use of the family home. The accused parent then must defend themselves in court and prove these allegations false.

While false accusations are a legal mess, it is also terrible to have someone with whom you once shared a life make claims of either abuse or neglect. It is something no one is ever really prepared for. You may feel you should reach out to your soon to be ex-spouse, but this can actually make things worse for you. Additionally, trying to make contact could be used against you. It is not unheard of for there to be accusations of stalking, harassment, or violence when all you want to do is smooth things over. No matter how tempted, it is best to keep away, and, with a clear mind, take more appropriate actions.

1. Gather Evidence – If there is an accusation, reported against you, collect evidence that will prove differently. You need names, places, and dates that will show the charges are false. If your ex-spouse claims you physically threatened her/him, but you have a receipt proving you were eating at a restaurant, that would disprove those assertions. [Read more…]

Worcester Police Charge Client With Assault and Battery. Jury Finds Not Guilty.

Worcester criminal defense attorney Michael Franklin represented a man for a jury trial at Worcester District Court. He was charged with Assault & Battery stemming from an incident on January 3, 2016.

My client and another man got into an argument while they were residents of a boarding house. The men admittedly didn’t get along during their residency there and argued and insulted each other frequently. A fight broke out between the two after an argument and the police were called. The Worcester police charged my client with assault and battery after listening to both men’s versions of events. I determined that my client had a right to self-defense and the other man was the aggressor. The jury listened to both men’s versions of events during direct and cross examination. The alleged victim claimed my client was the aggressor and he was defending himself. Photos were shown of the alleged victim’s injuries, scratches on his heads and hands. Photos were also shown of the living area where the incident took place.

Result: After deliberating for a short time, the jury found my client not guilty of the charges.

Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol

I recently represented a 60 year old man in Worcester District Court who had 2 knee replacements and was taking medications for diabetes at the time he was stopped by a state police trooper. The trooper pulled my client’s vehicle over after he went through a red light. The trooper noticed my client was slurring his speech , smelled of liquor and had bloodshot and glassy eyes. The trooper had my client step from the vehicle and my client needed to support himself against the vehicle to stand. The trooper asked my client if he had any injury or condition that would prevent him from performing field sobriety tests. My client informed the trooper about his knee replacements and that he was on medication for diabetes. Nevertheless, the trooper proceeded with the field sobriety tests and my client consequently failed the tests and was arrested and criminally charged with operating a motor vehicle under the influence of liquor. My client’s medical records were reviewed by a medical expert, a nurse consultant, who explained to the court about the side effects of the medication he was taking. The side effects of these medications were dizziness, confusion and slurred speech. She also explained that my client could have been suffering from fluctuating blood sugar levels from his diabetic condition (hypoglycemia) which explained why my client appeared confused and dizzy. The court found my client not guilty for operating his motor vehicle under the influence of liquor because there were other possible causes of my client’s impairment besides liquor and the Commonwealth could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that liquor was the sole cause of my client’s impairment. Specifically, the medical conditions he suffered from and the side effects of the medications he was taking for them gave the Court a reasonable doubt about liquor being the sole cause of the impairment.


Ways to Discover Hidden Assets

Most people enter the divorce process believing their soon to be ex-spouse is honest. However, this is not always the situation. The fact is dishonesty is a common reason for seeking a divorce. Even if you have no reason to suspect your spouse is hiding assets and misrepresenting their finances, it is prudent to vet their finances thoroughly.

Many people will do whatever it takes to conceal and hold on to what they believe is their money. Moreover, some will even create secret accounts, or perform other financial actions to conceal assets during the course of a marriage. It is possible to discover hidden assets in a divorce to ensure you receive a fair settlement.

The good news is an experienced divorce attorney has many tools at their disposal to discover hidden assets including but not limited to interrogatories, Requests for Production of Documents, Depositions, accountants, forensic accountants, private investigators etc.

In today’s world, many couples have very complicated financial portfolios that may include retirement plans, stocks, vacation properties, and more. Hiding places for assets are often predictable. These are some of the more common: [Read more…]

Worcester District Court Jury Verdict

In a recent case at Worcester District Court, I represented a Hispanic man who was charged with 2 counts of Assault and Battery on a Police Officer, a  civil rights violation, resisting arrest as well as Disorderly Conduct and Disturbing the Peace. He was in his parked car  outside of his children’s residence in a Worcester neighborhood. A police officer was dispatched there as a result of a report of a Hispanic man operating a vehicle that was blasting music, operating erratically and it hit a pole or another car. The officer who was black approached my client’s vehicle because it seemed to match the description of the reported vehicle. My client’s vehicle had no damage or signs of damage. The officer asked my client what he was doing and received no response. He requested if my client had his license. My client said yes. My client provided the license. The officer requested my client’s registration. My client didn’t respond. The officer requested my client step from the vehicle because he feared my client could have a weapon and he wanted to check. The officer had a heightened sense of danger because my client didn’t respond to his requests and he was in a “high crime neighborhood.” The officer grabbed my client’s hands and pulled him out of the vehicle. He claimed my client tensed up and wouldn’t turn around when he was requested to do so. No weapon was found. The officer further claimed that my client pushed him  so the officer had to struggle with him and the officer forced my client to the ground. At this point, another officer assisted in getting my client handcuffed. The officer claimed my client had pushed him and he was attempting to arrest him for that offense. My client’s family witnessed the incident and they claimed the black officer used excessive force on my client by slamming him into the hood of the car and thereafter knelt on his head. My client called the black officer the n-word numerous times as a result of this. My client had very dark skin as well. My client’s family didn’t see my client push the officer. My client’s family indicated my client’s primary language was Spanish and he understood very little English. The officers admitted they only spoke to my client in English and they did not speak Spanish. The officers also admitted they never determined whether my client was able to comprehend their requests or instructions. Both officers claimed my client kicked them while he was put into the wagon to transport him to the police station for booking. My client’s family indicated they saw the police physically toss my client into the wagon face first and he did not kick the officers. My client was found not guilty of all charges except resisting arrest. The Judge gave him a 10 day sentence of which he served 7 days. My client and is family were thrilled and satisfied with the outcome.

Massachusetts Family Law Regarding Separation

If you and your spouse are thinking it is time for a separation, there are some factors you should consider in order to make sure this is not only the right step for your family but also done in accordance with the law. Before any decisions are made, it would be beneficial to consult with me to help you fully understand the legal consequences of your decision.

In the state of Massachusetts, there is no such status as a legal separation. However, if one spouse seeks support from another and does not want to file for divorce, he or she can file a Complaint For Separate Support. This would allow for child support and/or spousal support payments to be ordered. The process for filing for separate support can be a lengthy and complicated one. The method and burden of proving that the spouse should receive support is not always easy, and if a mistake is made, it could cost you and your family in the long run.

Before deciding that a separation of any kind is in order, both spouses should be confident that this is the right thing to do for the family. Some couples choose marital counseling in order to try everything possible to save the marriage.

If no resolution can be reached to remain together, the next step could be mediation in order to reach a legal and binding agreement for support. Mediation is often a preferred option as it typically is less adversarial than the traditional litigation process. If mediation is chosen, it is a good idea to seek legal representation to protect your interests and your rights.

If you have questions or would like to consider a separation with your spouse, please call my office to schedule a consultation.

What to Do if You Aren’t Getting Visitation (Parenting Time) 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. I am experienced in Massachusetts divorce and family law and I can help.

If you don’t have a parenting schedule with your children then you will need to go to court to get one.

On the other hand, if a judge has ordered a parenting schedule but the custodial parent is not cooperating, you will need to file a complaint for contempt to enforce it. 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.

You have the right to see your children on a consistent basis. Whether you need help with a parenting schedule or other aspects of your case, I can help. Please call my office to schedule a consultation.

Preparing For Divorce Mediation

Divorce is always a painful process. Splitting assets for its cash value is often a difficult end to a relationship that did not work out. Emotions run high, even in an amicable divorce. Being prepared is the best way to ensure both parties receive their fair share of the marital assets and debts. Listing shared properties of value, dividing properties with written evaluations by a neutral party and listing all goals for your divorce are important to avoid costly mistakes and a satisfactory outcome.

List All Items of Value
Every couple has items of value. A family home is a piece of real property. Vehicles, jewelry, family heirlooms and furniture may all have monetary value. Family businesses or savings and retirement accounts are part of the marital assets as well. Credit card or loan debt is part of the equation too. These items are all part of the marital estate. Having a list of all valued property makes division easier and ensures both parties receive their fair share. [Read more…]

Divorce Mediation For Small Business Owners

Divorce is never easy, and it gets more complicated when a couple begins a successful business after their marriage. Massachusetts is an equitable distribution state which means the business equity is held marital in nature even if only one person does the work. There are very few people who divorce and then are able to manage working together on a daily basis, so splitting the company or leaving it is generally best for one spouse. Using mediation rather than going to court is an effective way of ensuring both parties continue to profit from the successful business, and it is the best way to ensure future alimony payments through divorce and family law court.

Splitting the Business Down the Middle
There are some businesses where splitting a company is relatively easy, and each person has their own territory. Mediation helps to decide which partner gets a particular territory, and this is usually done when both people enter an agreement willingly. Each partner retains their own share of business, and they negotiate physical territories so they do not steal each other’s customers. This is acceptable under Massachusetts law, and most judges deem it as a reasonable distribution of a family business.
[Read more…]

Violating a Harassment Protection Order

In a recent jury case in Worcester District Court, I represented a man who was charged with violating a harassment protection order by allegedly making 3 telephone calls to the alleged victim. The telephone calls registered as an “unknown caller” on the alleged victim’s cellular telephone and she testified that she recognized my client’s voice. She reported the violation to the police. On cross examination, she didn’t know whether the police performed an investigation to determine whether the calls came from my client’s cellular telephone or his home telephone. The jury took less than 15 minutes to find my client not guilty of the charge.