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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

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Put Away the Swords

“You didn’t always hate each other. There had to be nice moments, during the courtship, maybe? Or the wedding?”
-John Beckwith, Wedding Crashers (2005)

The “Divorce Nisi” period is one of the strangest legal concepts for people to grasp. Most people assume that their divorce is final on the day that a Judgement of Divorce is ordered; however, in Massachusetts, parties have to wait 90 days longer for their divorce to become final or absolute.

After months of fighting over airline miles, the Nisi period gives the parties an opportunity to “put away the swords” and consider reconciliation before their divorce becomes final. How often does this happen? Not often, but we always believe in looking at a glass half full and with the hope that it could. There are two defining characteristics of the “Nisi” period:

1. Neither party can remarry; and
2. If the Nisi period has not ended by December 31, the Parties will considered married for tax purposes and must file “joint” or “married, filing separately” for that year.

As always, please let us know if we can be of assistance to you.

Warm Regards,
John & Faye

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Independence.

It’s ironic that we approach a holiday week that celebrates independence from England by reflecting on how independent we are not.  This year is a little different for us. We aren’t going to comment on the immigration issues that divide our country at the moment. What we are thinking about is how we are never truly independent.

This week, the announcement was made public by Wicked Local that we won the best local attorneys in the region. As the news broke, we couldn’t help but thinking about how we got here and it’s not from being independent.

We are the faces of WJS Legal, but we are not the reason for our success. We would be lost without Katie and Kyla, who help keep us organized and moving forward flawlessly.  We could not succeed without our realtors and lenders. Our survival depends on our family law clients who trust us with the most intimate and sensitive parts of their lives. We need all of you, who believe in us and support our work.  We are, truly, only two people who are surrounded by greatness.

Thank you for always supporting us and Happy 4th of July!
Warm Regards,
John and Faye

Our two minutes of fame:

http://www.wickedlocal.com/section/favoriteswinners category=local%20shopping&town=north%20attleborough&cbResetParam=1