Long ago, in a law school not far away, Mark Lawton taught Juvenile Law at New England School of Law. He was giving a lecture and, as usual, was sharing stories from his time as a judge. Usually quite animated anyways, his face lit up when he started talking about adoptions and described the typical scene in the courtroom: photos being taken, laughter, bow ties and cute little socks with ruffles.*

 

Judge Lawton (ret.) was 100% correct. Adoption Day *is* very different than others that occur in the courts. The court room is closed to anyone not directly involved and sometimes the judges will let the kids play with their gavel or spin in their chair during proceedings. We have even seen judges play hide and seek in the court room with the kids! Honestly, the hearing is usually a lot of fun because people are in a good mood and the biggest concern is who is taking photographs.

 

Getting to Adoption Day is a bit of a journey. Massachusetts has specific laws and procedures that must be followed; our laws might overlap with the laws of the biological parents if they are not Massachusetts residents but the laws and procedures of both states must then be followed.

 

What to expect if you are considering adopting in Massachusetts:

  1. Massachusetts does not require a minimal age or marital status. ** of the prospective parents;
  2. Any person who is younger than the prospective parent can be adopted, with some exceptions, like current spouse, sibling, aunt or uncle. Some people have tried to use this broad language to manipulate financing for higher education but many lenders have become aware of this activity and handle accordingly, including allegations of fraud;
  3. Adults and children over the age of 12 must offer consent to the adoption;
  4. Massachusetts allows for prospective parents to pay reasonable birth expenses of the biological mother. All expenses will be reviewed by the court prior to the adoption to make sure that they are reasonable (ie. pregnancy messages may be considered reasonable but granite counters would not). Adoption Disruption Insurance or Risk Sharing Programs may be available and provide some financial stability for the adoptive parents should the adoption plan be disrupted or ended for any reason;
  5. Prospective parents must be approved by a professional licensed to do a  home study. The family will have background checks done, as well as family interviews and home inspections;
  6. Biological parents must wait at least four (4) days to give consent for the adoption;
  7. The parties may agree to an “open adoption.” If the parties want to, they may agree that there is an opportunity for the biological parents to get occasional photos, updates and sometimes even an annual visit. These agreements may also allow for adoptive parents to reach out with questions about genetic conditions or if the child ever asks to meet or communicate with the biological parent. Adopted children do not automatically have a right to access identifying information about his or her biological parent(s) and need to show good cause to access that information. *** and
  8. When a biological parent consents to an adoption, it does not terminate the duty to financially support that child. Yes, you read that correctly. Although the law as written is actually silent on the matter, it was determined by the courts that the public policy reasons behind the law allow for enforcement; child support is most often enforced when a biological parent surrenders custody to the other biological parent (ie. Biological Mom surrenders to biological Dad and his wife).

 

* You may not be surprised to know that this is not the typical scene in courtrooms. Often there are crowded benches, frowning faces, tension and harsh words.

** In 1993, the SJC determined that the statute did not preclude same sex cohabitants from jointly adopting a child (Adoption of Tammy,416 Mass. 205 (1993).

*** This was determined by Fineberg v. Suffolk Div. of Probate and Family Court Dept., 38 Mass. App. Ct. 907 (1995).

 

**** As determined by Adoption of Marlene, 443 Mass. 494 (2005).




We hope that this email finds you safe and healthy. If you are like most of the United States, you are watching more television than ever during the Covid pandemic. Have you noticed how many people are broadcasting live from their homes? If so, have you taken note of the adorable pets, crazy paint colors and amazing kitchens? We certainly have!

Not surprisingly, Twitter has been a hot spot for commentary on what is happening in the world. If you need some amusement, check out the tweets from Room Rater @ratemyskperoom. The tweets have become so popular that they were even highlighted on the Today Show:

today.com/popculture/twitter-account-ruthlessly-judging-celebrity-homes-tv-t179194 .

As always, please let us know if we can assist you in any way. Please continue to stay safe.

John & Faye

**** Please note that we have moved. Effective as of 4/13/2020, our office is now located at 491 Mt. Hope Street, North Attleboro. ****


The real estate market is so hot right now. Last month looked like mid summer in terms of activity, which is unheard of but also a very positive sign for spring (especially since interest rates just went down more)!

We would be lying if we said it was one demographic group coming through our doors. We are seeing younger, older, single and married individuals, as well as first time homeowners, people buying second homes or investment properties, as well as refinances, new construction and flips!

There is not one mortgage type that is a “one size fits all” for these situations. Realtor.com published a great article about the different types available:

www,realtor.com/advice/finance/types-of-mortgages

If you have questions regarding mortgages (or need contact information for an awesome loan officer), please feel free to reach out to us!

You might be surprised how many people go through a massive life overhaul all at once. They are in the middle of getting divorced, potentially moving into a new home and then WHAM, they quit their job or get fired. This happens ALL-THE-TIME but why?

For some people, they are trying to reinvent themselves for a multitude of reasons;
For others, they are trying to manipulate child support or alimony obligations (we don’t recommend this); or
They get fired.

Divorce can be an emotional roller coaster regardless of whether you wanted it to happen and how amicable the situation has been. The stress can have a massive effect on your body and mind, often leaving people distracted or absent minded. What can you do to help yourself before your divorce becomes an issue at work?

1. Communicate with your boss or human resources department to let them know what is happening. Not only will they potentially need to be involved with providing insurance coverage information, but they are more likely to be supportive and understanding if they they are aware of the situation and if you have reassured them that you will still get all of your work done in a timely manner;

2. Do not make a grandiose announcement or talk about your divorce at work, but if you do, only talk with a select group of close work friends and keep it to a minimum, especially during work hours;

3. Handle personal and divorce matters outside of work hours. Occasionally, you may need to respond to an email or call, but be mindful of your volume and content if you do so;

4. Do not use your work email for communication with your attorney. Some companies monitor their employees’ email and it will not benefit you for your company to know your personal business;

5. When you need to miss work to attend a divorce related meeting or appearance, inform your employer as soon as possible;

6. Put in the extra time at work if needed. If you are an hourly employee, don’t request over time pay if the extra time is needed to finish things that you would have normally finished but for the divorce;

7. If and WHEN you feel stressed or anxious, take a few minutes to refocus by getting some water or going for a quick walk;

8. Keep your emotions under control. We can assure you that if you get fired for poor performance or yelling at your boss, your spouse’s attorney will find out and will use it against you;

9. Get more involved with group projects if you can. Not only will it force you to be more accountable and keep you on schedule, but it will also give you an excuse to interact with others.

As always, please let us know if you have any questions about this or any other legal matters.

Regards,
John & Faye

We have so much respect and gratitude for our veterans and active military. As a small offering of gratitude, we will be offering a 10% discount to veterans and active military who purchase a title insurance policy written by us through Old Republic Title Insurance. This offer only applies to new policies and we can not retroactively reimburse you for previous transactions.

Some of our lenders and realtors offer discounts for veterans and active military also; please let us know if we can help you put together a team for your next home or refinance!

Warm regards,
John & Faye