Massachusetts Divorce Modification

Once a divorce is finalized, the documents are filed with the courts. However, life is unpredictable and circumstances can change over time. In Massachusetts, if an earlier court order or judgment no longer suits the parties because circumstances have changed in a significant way since the order or judgment was issued, the court can “modify” the prior order or judgment.

Cases where a modification to your divorce agreement might be appropriate include those where the children are significantly older than at the time when the last child support order was issued, or where a person ordered to pay alimony has retired and now has a substantially smaller income than at the time he or she was ordered to pay alimony.  [Read more…]

Individual Seeking Asylum Arrested for Larceny

I represented an individual seeking asylum who was arrested for larceny over $250.00 for using another person’s credit card. He charged over $7,000.00 on the card.  My client paid the entire amount back to the alleged victim prior to the matter being heard in Worcester District Court.  I obtained many continuances to allow the client time to pay the monies back. The charges were eventually dismissed and the client suffered no immigration consequences.

Worcester Assault and Battery Attorney

I recently represented an individual in the Worcester District Court charged with 2 counts of Assault and Battery on a household member.  My client was accused of punching his girlfriend in the face during an argument on two separate occasions.  My client claimed that neither of the alleged incidents occurred.   After a hearing, all charges were dismissed.

Assault With a Dangerous Weapon

Attorney Michael Franklin represented an individual who was charged with a Assault with a dangerous weapon (i.e. an  automobile).  Client allegedly tried to run her boyfriend over with an automobile. The matter was heard by the Worcester District Court and after a hearing, the boyfriend recanted and the charges were dismissed.

Child Custody Issues in Same-Sex Divorces

Massachusetts was a leader in its early recognition of same-sex marriages. Logic dictates that the Commonwealth will also have more experience with same-sex divorce and family law matters, including child custody and support issues in cases involving the dissolution of a same-sex marriage. Three Massachusetts cases do, in fact, reflect that experience.

In a 2006 same-sex divorce case (A.H. v M.P., 447 Mass. 828), one partner never adopted the child of her partner, although she was well aware of the importance of pursuing a formal adoption. Her former partner was the child’s primary caregiver. The court determined that she had no legal right to parenting time and had no support obligations as a “de facto” parent. The result in this case indicates how critical it is for one partner in a same-sex marriage to adopt the other partner’s biological child if the first partner desires to continue to have a parental relationship with that child in the event of a dissolution of a marriage.
[Read more…]

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…]