Child Custody in Massachusetts

Before you meet with an attorney to discuss your child custody situation, here are few pieces of information about child custody in Massachusetts that you’ll need to know in order to develop questions pertaining to your circumstances.

Two primary forms of child custody in Massachusetts

Physical custody determines where a child will live during certain periods of time.

Legal custody determines which parent has authority to make major decisions as in the doctor the child sees, the school the child attends, and even in which faith to raise the child.

Sole vs. shared custody
Sole physical custody means a child lives with one parent who is ultimately responsible for the child’s day-to-day supervision. The other parent is allowed reasonable visitation unless the court rules that this would not be in the child’s best interest.

Shared physical custody allows both parents a shared responsibility in raising the child while the child resides equally with both.

Sole legal custody gives one parent all rights and responsibilities to make major decisions in the child’s life. [Read more…]

Assault & Battery – Jury Trial

Attorney Michael Franklin represented a client who hosted a late night party. When a friend brought 2 uninvited guests, a fight broke out between one of them and an invited guest. The uninvited guest was bruised, received stitches in his lip and was knocked unconscious. My client held one of the uninvited guests back in order to prevent the fight from escalating. My client was charged with assault and battery on the person who was injured and on the person who was held back. I successfully argued to keep medical records out of evidence because they were not properly introduced. Photographs of the injuries were allowed into evidence.  Witnesses for both the prosecution and the defense testified as to what they witnessed.  Attorney Franklin argued that my client’s actions were justified based on the defense of others and the defense of his property. The Jury agreed and found my client not guilty on all charges.

Reduction of Alimony

Attorney Michael Franklin represented a client who is a salesman and was required to pay $742.00 per week plus 20% of all gross income earned over $180,000.00 per year as alimony to his ex-wife. His base pay was $180,000.00 per year. He lost his employment and obtained new employment with a base pay of $130,000.00 per year. The client sought to reduce his alimony obligation based on his reduction in his base pay.  A Complaint to modify his alimony obligation was filed and thereafter, the recipient of the alimony, his ex-wife lost her employment and her income in the amount of $55,000.00 per year. The defense argued there was no change in circumstances that justified a reduction in my client’s alimony obligation because although my client’s base pay was reduced, he actually earned more annually than when the Judgment was originally issued. This was true. Further, since the ex-wife lost her income, there was certainly no basis to reduce his alimony obligation. Wife obtained new employment earning $600.00 per week. Attorney Franklin argued that more income should be attributed to the wife based on her skills and experience. The Court agreed and reduced the client’s weekly alimony obligation by $118.25 per week to $623.75 per week. The Court still required my client to pay 20%  of any gross income he earned over $180,000.00 per year as additional alimony to his ex-wife.

Reduction of Child Support

Attorney Michael Franklin represented a father of 4 year old child born out of wedlock who resided here in Massachusetts who was previously ordered to pay child support in the amount of $398.00 per week retroactive to the child’s birth. He was a salesman with an annual income of $125,000 at the time of The Order. The child support arrearage totaled over $70,000.00 with interest and penalties accruing. The client also fathered two older children from a previous marriage who resided out of state. He was required to pay $406.00 per week in child support for those children. In addition, the client fathered a younger child in another state for which he had to pay $232.00 per week in child support. The client lost his employment and obtained new employment with a reduced amount of compensation at $80,000 per year. The mother of the 4 year old child was not employed and was previously allowed to utilize the dependency exemption because she was married. The mother’s husband was getting the tax benefit of the dependency exemption for the child. After trial, The Court reduced my client’s child support obligation to $258.00 per week, terminated interest and penalties from accruing on the child support arrearage and permitted my client to pay it off at $50.00 per week. The client was also permitted to utilize the dependency exemption for the child for income tax purposes. The mother unsuccessfully argued there was no change in circumstances that justified a reduction in child support.

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. [Read more…]

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.