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What is in a Name?

 

2016 was the year of “celebrity” deaths.  One passing that went fairly unnoticed was Richard Trentlage, who wrote the Oscar Meyer Wiener song.

Let’s be totally honest: growing up with a name like “Faye Weiner” can be a challenge. Nobody ever knows how to pronounce or spell it and more than every once in a while, someone will sing that catchy song to you like it’s the first time that anyone has ever thought of doing it.

Having a unique name can be rich with family history and personality; however, if you want to change your name, it is very easy to do through legal proceeding.

The most common type of procedure involves a change of marital status. At the time of marriage or divorce, Massachusetts law allows a person to change surname. You cannot force someone to change their surname; however, there is a growing trend of individuals who strongly want their (soon to be) ex-spouse relinquish their married name at the time of divorce. A while back we posted an article on Facebook and Twitter discussing this topic:
https://www.facebook.com/pg/Wjslegal/posts
https://twitter.com/WJSlegal

We often see our clients struggle with their post-divorce surname; the biggest reasons that we hear are concerns about having the same last name as the children, avoiding the process of changing all accounts and legal documents, as well as easier recognition within the community.  Either using your married or maiden name is acceptable and common.

Absent change of marital status, all you need is an original birth certificate, a completed petition to the probate and family court in your county, and a filing fee. Once the documents and fee are submitted, you need to attend a quick judicial hearing. It’s that easy.

….and for those who actually read to the end of this blog, a quick history lesson: the actual last name  “Weiner” is pronounced differently depending from where your ancestors migrated. In this case, the family name is related to wine producers (aka “Wine-er”) in European vineyards.

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Parenting on Pot: Custody under the Massachusetts Marijuana Tax Act

The perspectives of judges regarding marijuana use by a parent has been easing over the last 10 years as decriminalization and medical use have become our norm. With recent changes, some have asked us how it will effect custody and visitation. From a recent news blast from the Bristol Probate and Family Court:

Section 7 (d) of the Marijuana Tax Act addresses personal use of marijuana and its effect on child custody proceedings and provides:
Absent clear, convincing and articulable evidence that the person’s actions related to marijuana have created an unreasonable danger to the safety of a minor child, neither the presence of cannabinoid components or metabolites in a person’s bodily fluids nor conduct permitted under this chapter related to the possession, consumption, transfer, cultivation, manufacture or sale of marijuana, marijuana products or marijuana accessories by a person charged with the well-being of a child shall form the sole or primary basis for substantiation, service plans, removal or termination or for denial of custody, visitation or any other parental right or responsibility.
Section 7 (d) of Chapter 94G follows established case law regarding the use of marijuana and child custody proceedings. There needs to be clear and convincing evidence of a nexus between a parent’s drug use and the parent’s ability to parent a child in order for the parent to be found unfit and parental rights terminated.

For more information, please check out our website www.wjslegal.com or call us at (508)319-1529.

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National Holidays

 

 

 

 

There are some days on the calendar that we all recognize as holidays (even if we don’t celebrate them): December 25th,  October 31st and July 4th; however, there many obscure “National Days” of which you are probably not aware. For instance, did you know that May 19th in National Devil’s Food Cake Day or that August 5th is National Underwear day? Chances are good that you have no idea that the first Monday after New Year’s, when everyone returns to work, is considered by many people to be National Divorce Day.

Divorce Day has become a “thing” over the last couple of decades. Nobody is truly sure what it is about that date that makes it such an attractive time to call an attorney to start the divorce process.  It could be seasonal depression, conflict over the holidays, or just wanting to follow a different path in the new year. While nobody gets married hoping that their marriage ends in divorce, it is, unfortunately, a reality for approximately half of the population in any given year.

Divorce is not always terrible ending. We always tell people that divorce is a legal transaction that involves a “math problem, (aka figuring out who gets what)” and making sure that the children are in the best environment possible; when parties can focus on those two things, not the emotion and drama, everyone is happier.

Some of our favorite cases are divorces because it can bring out the best in people. We see people work together, focus on their children, and follow the path towards an alternative happy ending.  One of our favorite moments ever occurred right after one couple had their Separation Agreement approved by the judge as they hugged and walked out arm in arm. We often see parents make plans to take their children out for dinner together the night that they are divorced to remind their children that they are still a family. While this is not necessarily the norm, it is certainly the ideal.

What else is ideal? Celebrating April 14th as National Ex-Spouse Day.

Whatever winter holidays you chose to celebrate, we wish you a very happy holiday season. As always, please visit our website www.wjslegal.com or call us at (508)319-1529 for more information.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Room Where it Happened

“No one really knows how the
Parties get to yessssss
The pieces that are sacrificed in
Ev’ry game of chessssss
We just assume that it happens
But no one else is in
The room where it happens.”

-Lin Manuel Miranda

I have a friend who lives in a charming town located a couple of hours outside of London, England.  She lived in the United States for some time and still has an acute interest in what happens here. I recently asked her about how her local friends, family and colleagues perceived our President- Elect, Donald Trump.  Part of her response included this inquiry, “Giving some states more votes doesn’t seem fair. Surely one person, one vote works best?”

Electoral and popular votes usually point in the same direction, but not always.   Regardless of whether you favor it, the process was established by the Founding Fathers many, many years ago. We have journals and drafts which documented their process, but nobody knows for sure what fully happened in the negotiating sessions. There are two primary theories to why the Electoral College was created:

The most known theory is that it was developed to balance the influence of the small states with the larger ones.  Current sub-beliefs are that that the process was developed to account for the slave population in the South. Although slaves were unable to vote, inclusion of them greatly increased a state’s population (even though they were only counted as 3/5 of a person), the state’s representation in Congress and their number of electoral votes.

An alternative theory, and the one recognized by the National Achieves and Records Administration, is that the Founding Fathers created the Electoral College as part of the Constitution as a compromise. Many historians believe that there were heated arguments about how a President should be selected. The exclusive group, which included Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison, argued whether Congress should appoint a President or qualified citizens should be allowed to vote.

More likely than not, the reasoning of the Founding Fathers was a combination of both reasons. We will probably never know the full story, because none of us were in the room where it happened.
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The Official WJS Endorsement for the 2016 Elections

We were hoping that you would ask who we are voting for in 2016.  We thought that you might. Since you didn’t ask, we will just tell you.
For the last few months, the news has been dominated by scandals. Instead of focusing on imperfect people, our focus should be on who is more likely to conduct the country’s business successfully, especially the nomination of United States Supreme Court Justices.

 

Only a few month ago, everyone was talking the importance of nominating the next Supreme Court Justice. As you may remember, we blogged about it soon after Scalia’s death at https://wjslegal.com/blog/page/3/

 

Very little time has been spent since Scalia’s death discussing the Supreme Court. Given this election cycle, it’s not a total surprise despite the number of seats on the Court which may become empty within the next four or eight years. Depending who makes and confirms the nomination, the Court may look very different in the next decade.

 

During the 2016-2017 term, the Court will hear a variety of cases related to gun ownership, freedom of religion, voting rights, the death penalty, and equal protection. One of the cases likely to draw the most interest is one involving the bathroom use of transgender high school student.

 

Do you have an opinion about any of these matters? If so, then it matters to you who becomes President and which of the down ballot candidates will be confirming the President’s nominations. Each vote has the potential to change our country.

 

So, for the first time ever, the Law Office of Weiner Jackson & Simmons is making an endorsement: we are voting for the Supreme Court. You heard it here first.

 

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