Sunday, August 27, 2017

New Child Support Guidelines in Massachusetts 2017

New Child Support Guidelines in MA 2017
New Child Support Guidelines take effect on September 15, 2017. If you are a paying parent, contact Attorney Kathleen A. Delaney to determine whether you are entitled to a modification of your support order.

Shared Physical Custody Support Orders

While shared physical custody is appropriate in most circumstances, some parents who were ordered to pay child support would push for a shared custody arrangement for the sole purpose of decreasing child support rather than the desire to be a fully-engaged parent. The 2017 Guidelines eliminate the less than 33% and less than 50% calculations.

Health- and Childcare Expenses

The rising costs of health- and childcare expenses can be detrimental to any household, but more so to divorced couples. The 2017 Guidelines allow for an appropriate adjustment for these expenses in the form of a presumptive cap of 15% of the total order for medical insurance and child care deductions.

Weekly Minimum Amount Increase

Under the old Guidelines, the minimum order was based on a 40-hour work week at minimum wage ($440) which resulted in an order of $18.46 per week. The 2017 Guidelines raise the minimum amount of weekly support to $25.

Consideration of Children Ages 18-23

Support under the old Guidelines for children aged 18-23 who attend college was confusing. Some judges would emancipate those children and order the parent paying support to contribute to education expenses instead of both child support and education. Some judges reduced available income to the paying parent if they were paying education expense. The 2017 Guidelines give judges discretion to reduce child support by up to 25% for children aged 18-23 who are in a full-time post-high school education program. And a presumptive cap on child support is imposed at 75% of the standard guidelines order.

Contribution to College Expenses

Finally! - guidance on this issue. Some judges make it clear that college is a luxury and parents should not be on the hook for their kids’ education expenses. Financially supporting two households after a divorce is costly enough notwithstanding college expenses for kids. The 2017 Guidelines do not require parents to contribute to education expenses, but if the parties agree to contribute to these expenses, they will not be ordered to contribute more than 50% of the annual cost of attendance at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst (currently approximately $30,000). Subject, of course, to deviation and a judge’s discretion.

By Delaney & Tourkantonis


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Need to File For a Divorce After 50? Massachusetts Divorce Lawyer

Woburn Divorce Lawyer Massachusetts
Divorcing after 50?  

So you’ve decided to call it quits with your spouse after decades of marriage, raising kids, amassing retirement accounts, turning gray?

At this stage, the concerns aren’t custody of the kids, parenting schedules, holidays and vacation weeks, or child support. The issues revolve around money, plain and simple. Alimony is likely an issue. Dividing retirement accounts is an issue. Dividing real property, personal property, inheritances, all other assets AND liabilities is an issue.

Finances & Assetts

Make a list of all your financial assets -- house, car, furniture, savings accounts, etc.  Make a list of all your financial liabilities – college expenses, personal loans, mortgages, car loans, credit card debt, etc. This financial snapshot is instrumental in determining the value of the marital estate and how it can be equalized.

Obtain a copy of your credit report and dispute any errors. Clean up any long-standing and open credit cards by closing them – especially if they are jointly held.

Financial Advisor

Consult with your financial advisor and accountant. A gray divorce has serious financial consequences. You want to be prepared in the event you have to share your retirement account with your spouse, buy out their interest in real property or other assets, and/or assume more of the marital liabilities.

If you don’t have your own financial advisor or accountant, or you use the same professionals as your spouse, consult with Tourkantonis & Delaney for referrals to their specialists. As a team, we will advocate for the best results for you – legal AND financial.

Benefits to Hiring a Divorce Attorney

A divorce attorney will advise you on your legal rights and obligations during divorce proceedings. You MUST consult with a financial advisor and accountant regarding the financial consequences of your gray divorce. At Tourkantonis & Delaney, PC, we have a team of professionals who represent our clients’ best interests – legal AND financial.

By Kathleen Delaney


Friday, February 10, 2017

Child Custody and Removal in Massachusetts

A parent seeking to move their child/ren outside of Massachusetts is not as simple as just packing up and moving. Such a move will likely disrupt the parenting time of the non-moving party and have an impact on the relationship between him and the child.
Child custody lawyer Woburn MA

It is extremely important to know that if the parents are NOT married but have children together, and there are no orders or judgments from the Court regarding custody and/or support, the mother may move the children wherever she wants without permission from the Court. If there are orders or judgments from the Court, then the parent that wants to relocate must obtain permission from the Court to do so.

The Court will consider whether there is a “real advantage” to the moving parent AND what the best interests of the child/ren are. The “Real Advantage Test” is not controlled by only one factor. It is very fact specific. The Court considers:

  • Whether is there a good, sincere reason for wanting to remove to another jurisdiction or whether the move is to spite the other parent
  • The interests of the child (whether their life will be improved, the impact on the child’s development, educational issues of the child, health of the child)
  • The interests of the parent wanting to move (see below), and
  • The interests of the parent remaining in Massachusetts (alternative parenting time, elimination of association with the child) 
The Court will consider these factors, and others, related to the parent wanting to move:  
  • Remarriage of the moving parent
  • Job, educational and financial opportunities of the moving parent
  • Military service of the moving parent
  • Supportive community / Family in another state to which the moving parent wants to move
  • Medical issues
If you are a parent going through a divorce and there is a shared physical custody arrangement as part of your Separation Agreement, be sure to include a provision that states the parents cannot move more than 15 or 20 miles from each other. This makes it clear to both parents that their residence is governed by the shared custody arrangement.

If you are the father of a child or children and are not married to their mother, you should immediately seek a Court order or judgment establishing custody and a parenting schedule. Be sure to include a non-removal provision in any temporary order or judgment.

If you are the parent who wants to move outside Massachusetts, seek legal advice before doing so. The Court has the authority to order you to return the child to Massachusetts if you move him or her without permission from the Court. If you are the non-moving parent, seek legal advice to ensure your ability to parent remains intact.

By Kathleen Delaney


Monday, January 30, 2017

Can I File For Divorce Myself? Limited Assistance Representation in MA

filing for divorce myselfLimited Assistance Representation (“LAR” or “unbundling”) allows you to do most of the work on your case while the attorney’s services are limited to specific tasks. For example:

1.    You can draft complaints or other legal documents and hire an attorney to review them to make sure they are adequate for filing with the Court;
2.    You can appear in Court without an attorney, but consult with an attorney who can inform you on the legal issues, court procedures and strategy;
3.    You can draft/prepare documents and hire an attorney to appear in Court and make your argument;
4.    You can hire an attorney to make ‘discovery requests’ to the other party; discovery usually consists of official documents or statements from banks, employers, the other party, etc.
5.    You can hire an attorney to attend a meeting between the parties and counsel, or you can hire an attorney to coach you before the meeting.

Hiring an attorney on a limited basis is often less costly than if you hire them to provide full legal representation. For example, parties going through a divorce with children can expect to pay $20,000 or more for two attorneys, one representing each party. An attorney hired on a limited basis will likely cost less, depending on the scope of services for which they are hired. The circumstances of each case dictate the cost. An attorney can be effective at moving your case forward, especially if you are overwhelmed by the process and/or opposing counsel.

Communication is key to any relationship, of course, but especially between you and your potential attorney. Most attorneys do not charge for an initial consultation, so make the time and effort to consult with an attorney and give them a thorough overview of your case so they can adequately advise you. The complexity or simplicity of the issues, combined with your complete disclosure, will assist the attorney with valuing your case and the scope of their representation. A good divorce attorney will inform you about the strength and weaknesses of your case and help you decide whether you need full or limited representation and which aspects of your case each of you will handle.

Attorney Delaney’s limited assistance representation fee structure is determined by a number of factors. Her initial consultations are complimentary. You can call or email her office to schedule an in-person or phone consultation. Have whatever paperwork has been filed and/or served or a list of issues with you during the meeting so she can adequately advise you.

By Kathleen Delaney


Friday, April 22, 2016

Cell Phone Ban Laws in Massachusetts

This year In Massachusetts the Senate passed a bill to ban the use of handheld phones as well as electronic devices while driving the bill, S.2093, requires anyone using a handheld phone to use hands-free technology to both dial and to talk. The bill prohibits a driver from holding a phone, entering an address in a GPS navigation system or reading messages and of course texting f or using e-mail while talking, inputting an address into a GPS, or composing or reading an electronic message.

Fines & Penalties

The fines for these offenses would be $100 for a first offense, $250 for a second offense and $500 for a third offense. These are the same fines that currently exist for texting while driving.  If you have an emergency (911 calls etc.) then these fines would not be enforced. A criminal defense lawyer may be needed if an individual is in violation of the law, if passed, and the individual cause’s physical harm to another or even death.

Today’s drivers are used to being able to call someone whenever they like text a friend or use GPS to be able to move about town. With the convenience of technology, also comes mistreatment. Individuals can easily become distracted by the mobile device to then forget they are actually controlling a motor vehicle, instantly causing an accident. In the United States, car accidents are happening more often, resulting in personal injury cases due to individuals using mobile devices and not paying attention. Motor vehicle offenses in Massachusetts are happening more and more, with the lawyer covering such cases on a regular basis.

New Legislation to Potentially Save Lives

In the House of Representatives, a similar measure is to be proposed and if passed, the bill would need to be signed by Governor Charlie Baker to become law. Jason Lewis, a Senator of the state, commented that the public safety issue is a situation that can mean the difference between life and death. The banning of such activity via a mobile device while driving would significantly diminish driving distractions, according to Baker, which will save lives by making the road safer.

Penalties for Violation of Proposed Legislation

For a criminal lawyer, it is not uncommon to represent an individual of Massachusetts who has been involved in a car accident. Mobile devices have created an additional layer to vehicle accidents, being a big cause in why drivers hit other individuals on the roadways. By passing such a law, drivers can feel safer to be on the roadways as those who would use mobile devices in an unsafe manner would be punished if found to be doing so.

Thoughts on the Measure

Residents of Massachusetts have mixed feelings about the measure, but for the most part, residents want to see the streets safer. Individuals will have to make adjustments by using the ‘hands-free’ feature to talk to family and friends or to use the GPS system while driving. However, this small change will make the roads a safer place for residents as well as travelers to the state.

By Kathleen A. Delaney Esq.


Monday, January 25, 2016

Drones for Criminal Law Enforcement - Massachusetts

Drone Laws in Massachusetts
In recent years, drones have become increasingly popular for serious private and public concerns. Some mail-order companies are using drone to deliver small packages. Real estate and film industries are using drones to take photos and videos of otherwise difficult to reach spots of buildings and natural formations (like tops of mountains).

Criminal Law Enforcement

Now, police and military sectors are looking into using drones for criminal law enforcement. An extreme example of such use of drones is to assist with hostage situations. They can easily access wooded areas to photograph, follow and locate fugitives, missing children, illegal drugs, or stolen goods. Drones can also discreetly record conversations which can serve as potentially incriminating evidence against suspects. They can be equipped with lights, loudspeakers and weapons. They are operated remotely, reducing casualties to law enforcement and military personnel.

Despite their apparent usefulness, the use of drones faces many obstacles as to their legality. Anti-drone proponents argue violations to citizens’ Fourth Amendment rights, particularly one’s personal right to privacy and the immunity from being searched or questioned without a warrant. Pro-drones proponents urge their effectiveness for preventing crime and terrorism and limiting casualties to law enforcement and military personnel.

Some police departments have commenced training in drone operation and are getting ready to include drone technology in their everyday policing. Private suppliers provide materials and training on the proper use and handling of drones during operations.

Is Drone Surveillance Legal?

Unfortunately, existing laws are not very clear about the legality and extent of use of drones for conducting criminal law enforcement and monitoring. Senate Bill 185 and House Bill 614 have been submitted to the Massachusetts House of Representatives and Senate. According to the proposed bills, drones can be used by law enforcers only if they have warrants or if there’s a life-threatening situation. If the bills are passed, weaponized drones will be banned and drone surveillance will be limited. These bills do not affect hobbyists and commercial entities.

Criminal defense attorneys oppose the use of drones in law enforcement. Residents who feel likewise should write their local representative or congressman/woman while the bills are being considered.

By Kathleen Delaney Esq.