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Showing posts from April, 2014

Can an Attorney be Liable for the Opposing Attorney’s Legal Fees?

For over a decade, federal courts have ruled that an attorney who files a frivolous appeal on behalf of his or her client can be ordered to pay the opposing party’s legal fees. For example, in the leading case of Cronin v. Amesbury, the First Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the losing party’s attorney to pay the opposing party’s legal fees after he “crossed the line from zealous advocacy to vexatious advocacy”.

Has this rule been expanded to Massachusetts?

In 2010, the question first came to Massachusetts in City of Worcester v. AME Realty Corp., in which the Appeals Court seemingly expressed support for the federal rule of imposing “joint and several liability” for legal fees on attorneys who file frivolous appeals. In City of Worcester, the Appeals Court referred approvingly to “numerous” federal “decisions applying the sanctions of ‘damages’ and ‘costs’” to attorneys who file frivolous appeals. However, the opinion ultimately declined to say whether the federal rule applied to Mass…

Why it matters Where a Restraining Order Violation Happens

The Abuse Protection statute in Massachusetts M.G.L. c. 209A, often referred to as a restraining order, includes provision relating to out of state orders.  Under section 5A, "any protection order issued by another jurisdiction, as defined in section one, shall be given full faith and credit throughout the commonwealth and enforced as if it were issued in the commonwealth for as long as the order is in effect in the issuing jurisdiction."

In a recent case, a Defendant raised on appeal the question of whose law applies when an out-of-state order is violated in Massachusetts: the law of the issuing state, or the law of the state where the order was violated?

In Commonwealth v. Shea SJC-11412 (2014), the defendant who lived in Weymouth applied for a restraining order in the Quincy District Court against the victim who already had a restraining order against the defendant in NH.  This forced the victim to attend the hearing in Quincy District Court where, after having her requ…

209A Protections not available to Residents of DDS Residential Programs

The Abuse Protection statute in Massachusetts M.G.L. c. 209A, often referred to as a restraining order, does not apply to all relationships.  You cannot obtain a restraining order protecting you from anybody.  The statute limits the protections to individuals suffering from abuse by "family or household members" which is defined in the statute as follows: “Family or household members”, persons who:

(a) are or were married to one another;
(b) are or were residing together in the same household;
(c) are or were related by blood or marriage;
(d) having a child in common regardless of whether they have ever married or lived together; or
(e) are or have been in a substantive dating or engagement relationship, which shall be adjudged by district, probate or Boston municipal courts consideration of the following factors:
(1) the length of time of the relationship; (2) the type of relationship; (3) the frequency of interaction between the parties; and (4) if the relationship has be…

Parent Education Program For Never Married Parents in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, if you have any minor children at the time of the filing of a divorce case, you are required to attend the Court-sponsored Parents Apart education program before you can be divorced.  There has not traditionally been a similar requirement for never married parents in Massachusetts, despite the fact that separating parents will have many of the same issues regardless of whether they were married or not.

Children whose parents live in separate households may face many of the same difficulties regardless of whether their parents were married.  Recognizing this need, the Probate & Family Court in Massachusetts has a pilot program in three counties seeking to expand parent education for never married parents.  Under Standing Order 6-08 Judges in Hampshire, Essex and Suffolk counties may order parents to attend a program known as "For the Children" when they are a party to a Complaint to Establish Paternity, a Complaint for Custody/Support/Visitation, or any …

Does Divorce Hurt Children?

When parents are considering the D-word, they may have many fears, concerns and questions:  How will I afford a divorce?  How often will I see my children?  Where will I live? Will the divorce hurt my children?  

For most parents this last question can be so concerning that it causes them to put off their divorce.  Even when a divorce is inevitable parents are often paralyzed by their fear of how the divorce may impact their children, especially when the children are young.  This fear is warranted because many parents significantly damage their children's mental health by how they divorce and how they manage their relationship after the divorce.

A recent thread on Reddit highlighted the question:  Reddit Children of Divorce, what was the biggest thing you learned from your parents split and how did you end up?

Many of the responses are both heartbreaking and insightful:


Split, a recent film, also explored this issue from the perspective of children ages 6-12:


Fortunately, divorce…

Temporary Alimony is Distinct from General Term Alimony - According to SJC

In September of 2011, the Alimony Reform Act was signed into law in Massachusetts, and it took effect on March 1, 2012.  We've previously summarized the many changes that this Act brought to Massachusetts Alimony Law: The New Massachusetts Alimony Law in a Nutshell.

As with many new laws, though, it raised as many questions as it answered.   Now that this law has been around for two years we are starting to receive answers to some of those questions from the Appeals Court and SJC.

One of these questions was whether temporary alimony orders count against the duration of general term alimony orders which begin only after a final Judgment.  The new alimony law contains duration limits in M.G.L. c. 208 § 49, which create a presumption that alimony ends at a certain time based on the length of the marriage.  For example a marriage of between 15 and 20 years, could have alimony as long as 80% of the length of the marriage.  For a marriage of 15 years this would mean alimony could last…