Caveat Emptor

Caveat Emptor

Buying a house is a huge investment. Unless you build the house for your family, there may always be some things that you don’t know about your house before you buy it or for years thereafter.
 
Imagine that of one of the previous owners had died years earlier. The Seller may or may not have actual knowledge of anything that occurred prior to their ownership. Nonetheless, the Seller has no obligation to
tell the Buyer if the person died in the home unless the Buyer asks a direct, specific question about it (ie. Has anyone ever died in this house?).
 
Massachusetts law puts the burden on the Buyer to ask the “right”
questions of the Seller. The most significant way that most Buyers do their due diligence is by getting a very thorough inspection; however, there are two exceptions to this rule:
 
1. Lead paint: Under Section 197a, prior to signing a Purchase and Sales, the Seller must provide a signed copy of a lead paint disclosure. 
The Property Transfer Notification Certification advises the Buyer about
the general dangers of lead paint and provides any information that the Seller might have about its presence in the property. This is one of the few documents that the real estate agents must sign during the entire
transaction, but they are only confirming that they presented the
information to the Buyer; and
 
2. Septic: Sellers must disclose whether there is a septic system on the property. Prior to closing, the Sellers must also provide a Title V which confirms that the system is working properly.  Many Sellers will have the Title V inspection done prior to listing their home to avoid any potential issues that might be raised.
 
Some Buyer questions may also be answered by a simple Google search.  Most sellers would not disclose if the house had some friendly (or unfriendly) ghosts; however, a simple online search might provide an answer to a curious Buyer.
 
Is there anything that you would want or not want to know about
your house?
 
As always, please let us know if you have any questions about this
or any other legal matters.

Regards,
John & Faye      

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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.

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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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Creative Marketing

While driving through the Baltimore/ Washington D.C. area, there was a billboard that said, “Don’t get a divorce…get a bigger house.” Four days later, the advertisement is stuck in my head.

Although we are all for buying the house of your dreams, it will not save your marriage. What really happens to your house in a divorce?

1. The marital home is the most sought asset during a divorce. At the beginning of the divorce process, everyone wants to keep the marital home; however, it is rare that that both parties can afford to keep the home on their one income, often determining who could actually keep the house;
2. One spouse keeps the house. If one of the parties can afford to keep the home, they should refinance under their own name and based on their individual income. At the time of refinance, the ownership is often transferred by Quitclaim Deed;
3..Get your name off the mortgage if you don’t own the house. If you have signed a Quitclaim Deed to relinquish ownership rights, make sure that you don’t have any financial responsibility for the mortgage or taxes. We recommend this for both security (in case your ex doesn’t pay the mortgage for any reason) and because any financial obligations will limit your ability to secure your own credit for a future rental or purchase;
4. Sell the house. This can be done either before or after the divorce occurs, but it’s easier if the parties agree how the proceeds will be divided before the house is put on the market;
5. It gets more complicated when the mortgage exceeds the value of the home. Couples that cannot afford to pay the overage due usually have to choose a short sale, renting the home or continuing to live together;
5. Buying a house during the divorce process isn’t always a great idea. The home will be considered a marital asset and subject to division. Also, mortgage underwriters may be a bit concerned about your future income and assets, which could cause delays.

As always, please let us know if we can assist you with any concerns or legal matters.

Warm Regards,
John & Faye