A while back, we noticed that an acquaintance was frequently posting on social media about her divorce and her (soon to be) ex husband She was likely just venting or looking for support from her “friends;” however, this over sharing was public for all to see without any sense of boundaries or common sense. After seeing a few posts, it made sense to provide some unsolicited legal advice that her sharing was, in fact, a really bad idea.

You see, everything that you post or share can be used in a court. Even if someone is not your “friend,” they may be able to find the information pretty easily with a quick Google or Duck search. Similarly, it’s possible that someone who was loyal to the husband passed the information along to the husband by taking a simple screen shot of a “public” or “private” post. Either way, if the attorney for the husband got hold of those posts, he or she likely had a field day with them.

We continue to be surprised by what people post on social media. In the past, we’ve uncovered plenty of dirt on our clients and their exes without being “friends” with them. You can’t afford to pay your child support? Perhaps posting photos of you on vacation is not the best idea. You’re trying to sell three (3), never used Louis Vuitton’s or 20 set of shampoo and conditioner on a yard sale site? Probably not a good idea either, especially if you or your new significant other have been alleged to have committed armed robbery. Yes, we have seen all of these happen.

Social media posts also provide an opportunity for someone to use your information fraudulently. We cringe whenever someone posts their Covid vaccination cards, year of graduation or other personal information. You want to share that you are vaccinated? Awesome but show your sticker or at least cover up you birth date and batch number. Want to play a game that involves your year of high school graduation? Fun, but you’ve now just provided the world your age and likely the name of the town in which you were raised. By providing this personal information, you’ve now made it easier for someone to steal your identity. It’s that easy.

Do you want to know more? Check out this article:
https://www.divorcemag.com/blog/social-media-and-divorce-what-you-need-to-know

 

For everyone who knows us, you know that one of us has a shoe obsession*. There is a massive love of high heels but also a strong affection for sandals, wedges, loafers, flip flops, ballet shoes and even cozy slippers. Given this obsession, you may be surprised that this is the first newsletter that we have ever written about shoes.

The great thing about about shoes is that there is a pair of shoes to fit your personality, mood and lifestyle. The same can be said about child custody agreements; there is an agreement to fit every “pair” of parents..

Although the specifics terms of the plans can be as different as stilettos and flip flops, custody can generally be defined several ways under M.G.L. c. 208:
1. Sole legal custody: One parent has the exclusive right and responsibility to make decisions about matters that have a significant impact on the life of their child(ren), such as education, medical care and religious upbringing. Sole legal custody is more rare than you might expect. We see sole custody most
often if one parent has a history of drug use, physical abuse, untreated mental health issues or if there is a restraining order currently in place;
2. Shared legal custody: Both parents have the right and responsibility to make decisions about matters that have a significant impact on the life of their child(ren), such as education, medical care and religious upbringing. This is the default unless there is something significant happening within the family as suggested above;
3. Sole physical custody: The child(ren) resides only with and supervised by only parent but may have visitation with the other parent unless visitation would not be in the best interest of the child(ren). We occasionally see parents who live in different states who will have shared legal custody but only one parent has physical custody;
4. Joint physical custody: The child(ren) reside in the homes of and supervised by both parents on a regular basis. What this model looks like can vary greatly from family to family. While some parents have the child(ren) rotate homes every couple of days, others stick to the classic one dinner during the week and parenting time every other weekend. Sometimes, parents with joint physical custody will choose a “primary” parent for the child(ren) in order to determine school choice. There is no “correct” schedule for co-parenting.

As always, please let us know if you have questions regarding a family law or other matters.
Warmest regards,
Faye and John

* We will let you decide which one of us loves shoes!

 

2020 has been the most “2020” year ever. We have had all sorts of odd surprises, like an earthquake in Bristol County and the death of Eddie Van Halen; to the contrary, we are not really surprised by the litigation of the Presidential election results.

We will take no position on the allegations, merits or likelihood of success regarding the challenges to the election results; however, we are certainly interested in the legal argument and precedent that might be created.

Here’s what we know so far:
1. Election law is it’s own specialty and one that we don’t have any experience with firsthand;
2. Election laws vary from state to state at this point; and
3. There is some pretty solid case law already established which may determine what happens next.

If you are interested in learning more about some of the established law in specific states, follow this link for more information:
https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/whitehouse.gov/files/docs/pacei-voterfraudcases.pdf

 

 

There are moments in life where the world just suddenly stops and pauses to reflect for a moment; for us, the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of those times.

The hearings leading up to her confirmation on the Supreme Court of the United States was arguably the last time that a confirmation had solely to do with qualifications. Her legacy as a Justice should set the standard for the future of the Supreme Court where she was well respected for her work and work ethic.

We could certainly discuss some of her contributions to case law and culture, but, for us, we are currently focusing on how she treated others during her career and life. Even those who did not agree with her decisions and dissents understand that she always did what she thought was right and did it in a respectful manner. Rumor has it that Justice Scalia, who often had a different thought process, was one of her closest friends. There is no stronger statement that can be made of how friendships based on mutual respect and interest in understanding someone else’s perspective.

We are not going to make any statement regarding whether we think President Trump and the Senate should move forward in nominating Justice Ginsberg’s successor; however, we offer this link to anyone seeking information on the appointment process, limitations and obligations regarding timing and appointment of a Justice:

https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R44235.pdf

Pretty much every time that we talk about child custody or parenting, the phrase “Best Interest of the Child” is either uttered or written. IF you have been divorced within the last decade or so, you have attended a parent education class which focuses on co-parenting.

 

We can actually tell a lot about our clients depending on how they react to the parenting class. Great parents seem to take the class hoping to gain some ideas and bad parents often think that they information doesn’t apply to them.

 

The principles should be basic but we want to share them nonetheless. If you are a co-parent, there are things that you should never ever do:

1. Never talk negatively about your co-parent. Your child loves both parents and, if you talk trash about their other parent, they will potentially internalize it as disapproval of who they are as an individual;

2. If the co-parent starts dating someone or gets married, do not criticize that new person to your child.  Children need to form their own opinions and build their own relationships;

3. Do not cancel out on parenting time if you can avoid it. Things happen: people get sick, work runs late and emergencies happen. Cancellations should be the exceptions, not the standard;

4. Do not set rules in your home that are drastically different from the home they have with your co-parent. Will there be some minor differences? Of course. The best things for a child are stability, structure and predictability. It doesn’t make a huge difference if one home eats at 5pm versus 6pm, but bed times that are hours apart will create a grumpy and confused child;

5. Do not spoil your children too much during your parenting time. It’s really tempting to be the “fun parent,” especially if you are not with your child on a daily basis. Kids do not love you because you sneak them extra cookies (though many grandparents would disagree);

6. Do not leave your homework to the other parent. Almost nobody enjoys Common Core math but chances are good that one parent doesn’t mind it as much as the other. Work together to use your talents, skills and knowledge whenever possible. Your children will benefit academically and they will know that both parents make them a top priority;

7.  Do not ignore your children when you have time with them. Consider playing XBox WITH your child instead of just letting them sit in the basement alone. Quality time is almost more important than quanity;

8. Do not forget to have fun together while also teaching life lessons. Chores are not really fun, but they are important and can be done together. Teach your child to mow the lawn, do laundry and other life skills, then celebrate a job well done together; and

9. Do not introduce your child to ever person that you date. If you are serious with someone, it might be appropriate that your child gets to know this new person. Before you introduce that person to your child, talk with the other parent and the child to let them know that this is going to happen so that everyone can support the child emotionally. If your child is not comfortable meeting someone, take that cue and wait. When you do make an introduction, keep it light and short. Allow your child and your person to develop a relationship on their own and at their own pace.