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Gratitude

“It’s so free this kind of feeling;
It’s like life, it’s so appealing;
When you’ve got so much to say;
It’s called Gratitude and that’s right.”

-Beastie Boys

We have so much to be thankful for this year: our families, clients, vendors, and colleagues. We very much appreciate your business, referrals, and friendship. Happy Thanksgiving!

Warmly,
Faye & John

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Ch-ch-changes to Child Support

Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines are changing quicker than David Bowie used to transform into Ziggy Stardust. Starting in September, 2017, there will be massive changes to how child support is calculated. There are a lot of changes in store, but some of the highlights that will be most interesting to our clients:

A blanket 25% reduction in support obligations for children between the ages of 18-23;
A presumptive cap on college contributions, for each parent, at 50% of the cost of attending UMass Amherst (aka “The UMass Formula”);
Removal of modified support based on parenting time; and
Acceptance of unreported income, thereby making it easier to “impute” income.

Like all new rules and guidelines, it will take a while to determine how some of the more detailed changes actually get applied in real cases. Please email or call us if we can help you to better understand how the guideline changes might apply to your specific situation.

A helpful link from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts:
http://www.mass.gov/courts/case-legal-res/law-lib/laws-by-subj/about/support.html

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What is in a Name?

 

2016 was the year of “celebrity” deaths.  One passing that went fairly unnoticed was Richard Trentlage, who wrote the Oscar Meyer Wiener song.

Let’s be totally honest: growing up with a name like “Faye Weiner” can be a challenge. Nobody ever knows how to pronounce or spell it and more than every once in a while, someone will sing that catchy song to you like it’s the first time that anyone has ever thought of doing it.

Having a unique name can be rich with family history and personality; however, if you want to change your name, it is very easy to do through legal proceeding.

The most common type of procedure involves a change of marital status. At the time of marriage or divorce, Massachusetts law allows a person to change surname. You cannot force someone to change their surname; however, there is a growing trend of individuals who strongly want their (soon to be) ex-spouse relinquish their married name at the time of divorce. A while back we posted an article on Facebook and Twitter discussing this topic:
https://www.facebook.com/pg/Wjslegal/posts
https://twitter.com/WJSlegal

We often see our clients struggle with their post-divorce surname; the biggest reasons that we hear are concerns about having the same last name as the children, avoiding the process of changing all accounts and legal documents, as well as easier recognition within the community.  Either using your married or maiden name is acceptable and common.

Absent change of marital status, all you need is an original birth certificate, a completed petition to the probate and family court in your county, and a filing fee. Once the documents and fee are submitted, you need to attend a quick judicial hearing. It’s that easy.

….and for those who actually read to the end of this blog, a quick history lesson: the actual last name  “Weiner” is pronounced differently depending from where your ancestors migrated. In this case, the family name is related to wine producers (aka “Wine-er”) in European vineyards.

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Five Rings.

We are going on a limb with this one: Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen likely have a prenuptial agreement. We haven’t seen it, but hopefully, he made provisions for him to retain all of his Super Bowl rings and his MVP trophies if their marriage ends.

 

If at the time of the marriage, Brady disclosed that he owns three Super Bowl rings and a couple of trophies, but didn’t make provisions for the future? In that case, his wife may have a claim for rings and trophies for the fourth and fifth as marital assets. OUCH (especially for number five).

 

We love prenuptials for average couples because they create an opportunity for them to have uncomfortable conversations about their priorities and financial future. Have you been married before? Do you have children? Do you have some savings or a home? If the answer to any of those questions is “yes,” then a prenuptial is an important legal protection for you.

 

Protections typically include division of property, alimony, debt, life insurance, health insurance, and what financial support children from a prior relationship might get during the marriage or when the parent dies. In order for a prenuptial to be valid, the following conditions must be met:

  •          Both parties must make full disclosure of all assets and liabilities;
  •          The agreement must be fair and reasonable at the time entered into by the parties;
  •          Both parties must be represented by counsel;
  •          Both parties must sign the document prior to the wedding;
  •          Both parties must sign the document of their own free will;
  •          Both parties must have the capacity or ability to sign the document; and
  •          The agreement must also be fair and reasonable at the time of divorce.

 

Given the second look at the time of divorce, it would be unlikely that our GOAT would lose his fourth and fifth rings if they were not protected in a prenuptial. That would just be unfair and unreasonable, wouldn’t it?

 

On to SIX!

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Parenting on Pot: Custody under the Massachusetts Marijuana Tax Act

The perspectives of judges regarding marijuana use by a parent has been easing over the last 10 years as decriminalization and medical use have become our norm. With recent changes, some have asked us how it will effect custody and visitation. From a recent news blast from the Bristol Probate and Family Court:

Section 7 (d) of the Marijuana Tax Act addresses personal use of marijuana and its effect on child custody proceedings and provides:
Absent clear, convincing and articulable evidence that the person’s actions related to marijuana have created an unreasonable danger to the safety of a minor child, neither the presence of cannabinoid components or metabolites in a person’s bodily fluids nor conduct permitted under this chapter related to the possession, consumption, transfer, cultivation, manufacture or sale of marijuana, marijuana products or marijuana accessories by a person charged with the well-being of a child shall form the sole or primary basis for substantiation, service plans, removal or termination or for denial of custody, visitation or any other parental right or responsibility.
Section 7 (d) of Chapter 94G follows established case law regarding the use of marijuana and child custody proceedings. There needs to be clear and convincing evidence of a nexus between a parent’s drug use and the parent’s ability to parent a child in order for the parent to be found unfit and parental rights terminated.

For more information, please check out our website www.wjslegal.com or call us at (508)319-1529.

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