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Pliability.

Pliability.
/ˌplīəˈbilədē/
noun: the quality of being easily bent; flexibility.
– Google Dictionary

If you live in New England, the word “pliability” may trigger thoughts about Tom Brady and Alex Guerrero. Arguably, Brady has been able to play into his 40’s and gain legendary status because of his commitment to pliability. 

Pliability is a must for the family of all professional athletes and coaches. Like having someone enlisted in the military, it is a full family commitment to crazy, constantly moving schedules.

Brady is not unique in that his family is blended; he has a child from a previous relationship and two children with his wife. What would happen if the mother of his oldest son wasn’t pliable?

No Super Bowl or parade for the kid even though his dad is the GOAT. Without knowing any of the parties or the specifics of their parenting agreement, it is unlikely that Brady always has visitation on the first Sunday of every February or the following week reserved so his son can ride in a parade (though it might be smart to do so).  Without some pliability by his mom,  the poor kid would miss these extraordinary, once (or six times) in a lifetime, experiences. While we realize that Brady’s specific concerns are not typical, they actually are pretty common.

Take the fairly typical “overnights every other weekend and dinner once or twice during the week” scenario. What if there is a big family event that the child would miss because it’s not the “right”  weekend for the parent?  What if Mom or Dad travel for work?  What if one of the parents or the child(ren) are sick? Ideally, both parents are pliable and do what is best for the child(ren).

Co-parenting can be bit trickier if the parents live far apart from one another. Typical visits are longer in duration, but less frequent. For some parents, it means commuting back and forth to where their child lives. In this scenario, the local parent should really be pliable if the parent shows up late, arrives early or needs to reschedule due to weather. 

Simply put, there is no “one size fits all” for co-parenting schedules and life happens. When developing a plan, the parents  should consider the needs, preferences and best interest of the child.  They should also be (wait for it) PLIABLE.

As always, please let us know if we can help you with developing a parenting agreement that works for you or any other legal matter.

It’s All Your Fault.

Divorce can be messy. More often than not, people just grow apart or want different things from life; however, it is not unusual that clients come to us talking about adultery by one or both of the parties.  What should you do if your spouse cheats on you? 

  • Chose to work work together to save your marriage. We realize that this is almost never the first reaction, but for some couples, it is an option;
  • Have a consultation with a reputable attorney who can explain the divorce process and your rights; 
  • File a Complaint for Divorce, either jointly or contested, stating that there is an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage; or
  • File a Complaint for Divorce with fault. You can request that the court order a divorce based on many types of fault, including desertion, gross intoxication, adultery, non-support, impotency or extended incarceration. Some people feel that it is important to them, for a variety of reasons, to file in this manner. Because the petitioner essentially has to prove that his spouse is “guilty.” litigation typically takes a bit longer and is more costly.

Conduct is one of 34 factors that the courts use to determine the division of marital assets under Massachusetts General Law Chapter 208, Section 34.  How much does conduct of the parties really matter?  It depends, but can be somewhat punitive and restorative.

Consider and compare these two situations:
1.  Husband has purchased one casual dinner for his girlfriend per week over the last few months; 
2.  Wife has bought a dinner a week for her boyfriend for the last two years and all dinners were at the Four Seasons in different cities.

Different situations, right? Is the likely financial impact different? Yes. Very. 

Some states have taken the fault option a step further and allow for a spouse to sue the girlfriend or boyfriend involved: 

https://www.wcvb.com/article/calling-all-homewreckers-law-in-6-states-reminds-folks-not-to-break-up-marriages/26326601

What are your thoughts on this?

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Shutdown.

Working for the government is typically awesome. Most state and federal employees get incredible health and life insurance benefits.  They also have fairly “normal” hours, without necessity to check email on nights or weekends. These benefits are tossed on the back burner when there is a government shutdown.

Unfortunately, these shutdowns have become all too common, under both Democratic and Republican leadership. In late 1995-1996, the federal shutdown lasted over a month.  What happens to support obligations during these periods?

Child support and alimony obligations survive government shutdowns.  What should you do if a shutdown or layoff effects you?

The essentials:
Make sure that you have a rainy day fund. Regardless of whether you are self employed or working for someone else, there will certainly be an amount of time during your career where your income is less than usual or non-existent. Just like your rent or mortgage, you should plan for how you will pay your support obligations during that time; and

Communicate with your ex. We know, we know….you don’t want to talk with your ex, but it may save you unnecessary time in court.  If your ex is aware of the situation and you communicate your concerns to them, they may be more likely to work with you to figure out a reasonable solution rather than just bringing you in to court. In most cases, both parties can come up with a reasonable, short term agreement on their own. 

If those options don’t work:
If you are the payor, you could file a Complaint for Modification. If your loss of income continues for an extended period of time, it may worth it to file a Complaint for Modification based on a material (ie. significant) change of circumstance. Child support can always be changed, depending on custody and income; however, it typically takes a month or so to have matters heard so the change should be fairly long term; and

If you are the payee, you could file a Complaint for Contempt. If the loss of support continues for an extended period of time, it may be worth it to file a request that the court acknowledges that someone is in violation of an agreement (ie. Contempt). There is no minimum amount of late payments that must be accrued prior to filing, but judges usually look for a pattern or significant amount of late payments. Filing could lead to a finding that the person is in violation of the agreement, but the judge could also lower payments or defer to a payment plan on the arrears based on an inability to pay.

As always, please let us know if you have any questions about child support and alimony or any other legal matters.

Regards,
John & Faye

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Television Lawyers

If you follow us on Facebook*, you probably know that we love to reference movies and television shows. We bet you know some of these names: Vinny Gambini. Rachel Zane. Saul Goodman.  Fletcher Reede,   Sol & Robert. Rebecca Bunch.  Lionel Hutz.  Elle Woods.

What do all of these names have in common? They are all attorneys created by Hollywood and take creative liberties about what it like to practice law in the real world.

1. Attorneys are more like chess players than dramatic actors If you walk into a court house, you won’t see lawyers slamming their fists on the table or hear dramatic music. What you will find is lawyers huddled in a corner or in a conference room, trying to position their client in the most favorable way. There are, however, those Elle Woods toe tapping moments, where a new realization changes our next move.

2. Attorneys are actually decent people. Being an attorney means that you get to help people in your community with real solutions. We are generally nice people, just trying to perform a service, not the nasty, self serving jerks that Hollywood often makes us out to be.

3. Attorneys are pretty honest.  We present evidence that is favorable to support our client’s position. We can be creative in arguments and questioning.  We can present alternative explanations.  Much to the surprise of some clients and as Fletcher Reede once said, we “cannot lie.”

4.  Attorneys put a lot of work into an argument.  Good attorneys can make a strong argument and make it appear effortless.  One of our best friends participated scholarship pageants when we were in college. Did she wake up every morning looking like a Disney princess?  Nope, but she wanted to win, so she practiced her singing and spent a lot of time fine tuning her interview skills.  Similarly, attorneys spend hours, days and months looking at evidence and planning to argue our client’s position.

Who is your favorite lawyer on television or in a movie?**

If we can assist you in any legal matters, please call or email us at fayejslgal.com.

Regards,
John & Faye

* If you don’t, you should: https://www.facebook.com/Wjslegal/?ref=bookmarks
** Ours is currently Saul Goodman!

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Clark Griswold

 

“Unravel these. We need to check every bulb. Ooops. Little knot here, you can work on that.”
-Clark Griswold to his son, Russ, as he hands him 25 strands of Christmas lights

You can admit it. You LOVE decorating for the holidays. Tell us the truth: are you a more HGTV or Clark Griswold?

Decorating your home can really get you into a festive mood for any holiday; however is it a good idea to decorate for the holidays when you are getting ready to sell your house? We asked a realtor her thoughts on this important question. Her answer was “it depends” and “maybe.”

It depends whether you have already taken marketing photos of your house: Marketing photos of your house should not include holiday decorations. Any decorations will “date” your photos and might make your home appear as though it has been on the market for a long time.

Decorating can make or break your staging: Decorating a home that is already on the market can help people to visualize themselves celebrating future holidays there too. Decorations should be traditional and serene. For instance, pumpkins and corn stalks are perfect for Halloween and Thanksgiving. Single colored lights will highlight your landscaping and a small Mensch on the Bench may provide a dash of blue color on white shelves. Overall, as a former law professors once said, “keep it simple.”

For specific ideas, HGTV has some thoughts on staging your house during the holidays:
https://www.hgtv.com/design/real-estate/staging-tips-for-selling-during-the-holidays

What is YOUR favorite holiday to decorate for every year?

As always, please let us know if we can help you with this or any other matter.

Warm Regards,
John and Faye