How to Handle False Allegations During Child Custody & Divorce

It seems like everyone knows a story about false allegations during child custody and divorce. One spouse points the finger at the other and receives a restraining order from the court. The wife or husband recognizes that doing this will, almost by default, give them custody of the children and exclusive use of the family home. The accused parent then must defend themselves in court and prove these allegations false.

While false accusations are a legal mess, it is also terrible to have someone who you once shared a life make claims of either abuse or neglect. It is something no one is ever really prepared for. You may feel you should reach out to your soon to be ex-spouse, but this can actually make things worse for you. Additionally, trying to make contact could be used against you. It is not unheard of for there to be accusations of stalking, harassment, or violence when all you want to do is smooth things over. No matter how tempted, it is best to keep away, and, with a clear mind, take more appropriate actions. [Read more…]

Notice: Massachusetts Mandatory Parent Education Programs Update

In order to promote awareness of, and track and enforce attendance at, mandatory Parent Education programs, the Probate and Family Court is implement new requirements, time-frames and forms. To that end, Standing Order 4-08 is repealed effective May 1, 2016, and will be replaced with Standing Order 2-16, effective May 1, 2016.

Changes reflected in Standing Order 2-16 include:

  1. new required documentation of registration to encourage prompt enrollment;
  2. clarification concerning the basis for waiving the mandatory attendance requirement, and highlighted alternative to such waiver when appropriate; and
  3. updated information concerning the delivery of parent education services via DVD or online program

You may review Standing Order 2-16 at: www.mass.gov/courts/case-legal-res/rules-of-court/

The related forms are available at: www.mass.gov/courts/forms/pfc-forms-gen.html

 

Eric Schutzbank Designated as a Founding Member of the New Hampshire Chapter of the AACFL

aacflThe American Academy For Certified Financial Litigators (AACFL) welcomes Attorney Eric Schutzbank as a Founding Member of the New Hampshire Chapter of the AACFL. Attorney Schutzbank is in the process of completing his CFL certification.

The CFL™ is a designation awarded to select practitioners who have received this high level training and passed the CFL™ examination. The CFL designation ensures customized training in the financial aspects of litigation including accounting, taxation, investments, valuation, forensics and compensation.

While other certifications are no absolute assurance of quality or integrity, the CFL™ requires completing the training program and receiving a passing grade on the exam.

Eric is a thorough, straight-shooting attorney who gets results

After a long contentious battle in family court, Eric was able to get me the parental rights that I deserve. I have my fair share of experience with attorneys and have often felt neglected, under-advised, and left with little to no positive results. This is the first time I have ever worked with an attorney who is so sharp in every way imaginable. I will certainly be employing him as my attorney in any future legal matters.

Joe, divorce client

Separation Agreements

posted by Eric Schutzbank –

A Separation Agreement sets forth the specific terms of what is agreed to by the Parties in resolution to their divorce. These terms might include details about custody, parenting schedules, child support, alimony or spousal support, division of property, taxes, and payment of debts and anything else that needs to be addressed when resolving a divorce by an agreement. In a Joint Petition for Divorce, the Separation Agreement is negotiated and drafted prior to filing. In contested litigation, it is drafted at some point prior to the conclusion of a trial on the merits. A well drafted agreement is specific to the situation and concerns you may have while also addressing the mandatory legal terms.

Separation agreements in Massachusetts have to address whether or not the terms are modifiable by the Court. Some portions function as an independent binding contract that cannot be modified by the Court over the objection of the other party. These portions are known as the surviving provisions of the agreement and usually address things such as property division and debt repayment. Those terms which are modifiable by showing that a material change in circumstances has occurred usually address issues relating to the children, child support and health insurance coverage. These terms are said to merge with the Judgment. One issue that varies depending on the circumstances is alimony which can either merge or survive. [Read more…]

Alimony Beyond Durational Limits

The Alimony Reform Act of 2011 established durational term limits for general term alimony for marriages less than twenty years in length. The law also permitted Alimony Payors to file Modification Complaints seeking to termination general term alimony if such durational limits had been exceeded. The law established a blanket exception for durational term limits if an alimony recipient could show that the durational limit should be extended for good cause shown. In the case of Barcalow v. Barcalow, the trial judge found that a disabled alimony recipient was entitled to continue receiving alimony payments beyond the durational limits.

The Court found that although the durational limits had been exceeded, the Court in this case was required to examine whether or not a deviation from the durational limits was warranted. The Court held that given the recipient’s advanced age and cognitive limitations resulting from a head injury that occurred prior to the divorce, a deviation was in fact warranted. The Court further held that terminating alimony in this instance would violate the longstanding policy against doing so would force the recipient spouse to become dependent on the state for support. The trial judge found that the Alimony Reform Act had not changed the prior case law that held if a spouse was a public charge and the other spouse could pay, alimony should be ordered. [Read more…]

Appeals Court Rules on Prenuptial Agreements

The Appeals Court recently ruled on several critical issues involving prenuptial agreements. In Pisano v. Pisano, the Appeals Court addressed the issues of involving a bifurcated trial, a prenuptial agreement, temporary alimony and family loans. The primary issues that resulted in heavily contested litigation all could have been prevented by inclusion of clear provisions in the Prenuptial Agreement. This is not a criticism of those who drafted the document. In many instances, the soon to be married couple are unwilling or unable to address these types of specifics. The Pisano case, however, demonstrates the importance of clear and thoughtful decision-making and precise use of language when drafting a Prenuptial Agreement.

1. The Appeals Court upheld the trial Judge’s determination that the Prenuptial Agreement excludes income derived from separate assets from consideration of alimony.

While the prenuptial agreement did not explicitly state “income from separate assets is excluded from the calculation of alimony” as clearly as it might have, the Appeals Court upheld this decision finding that the language of the prenup clearly intended to exclude income from separate assets from being divided. Had clearer language regarding the inclusion of income from separate assets for alimony calculation been included, an expensive appeal could have been avoided. [Read more…]

Limited Assistance Representation

posted by Eric Schutzbank –

Limited Assistance Representation is when an attorney represents or assists a litigant with part, but not all, of his or her legal matter, instead of the standard full representation on an entire case. Limited Assistance Representation allows an attorney to assist a self-represented client with specific issues on a limited basis. This might include preparing or reviewing documents, appearing in court for a crucial event such as a Pretrial Conference or a Motion to Dismiss or giving legal advice. This type of representation is also known as providing unbundled services. This type of limited representation permits the attorney to automatically withdraw representation at Court after completing agreed upon services.

Although the attorney does not fully participate, the attorney owes the client the same duties of loyalty, competence and confidentiality for the limited representation as he would under full service representation. The attorney also must review the limitations of the legal assistance with the client. The attorney and client must enter into a written fee agreement that gives a detailed description and explanation of the services to be provided by the attorney. [Read more…]

Supreme Court rules that cops can’t hold you for even a few extra minutes without good reason after routine traffic stops

The Supreme Court of the United States ruled that after police have completed a routine traffic stop, they cannot hold you for even a few extra minutes without the usual suspicion required to detain a person.

In Rodriguez v. United States, a case brought by a Nebraska man who was pulled over for driving erratically on a state highway in 2012, the court majority said police lacked probable cause in a search that led to the man’s drug charge. [Read more…]

Technical problems could overturn recent drunk driving convictions in Massachusetts

As reported by MyFoxBoston.com, technical problems could overturn many recent drunk driving convictions in Massachusetts.

The issue involves the use of faulty breathalyser machines. According to the Salem News, prosecutors have started notifying defense attorneys about the problem.

Apparently, a solution used in the machines is causing them to produce improper test results.

The Essex County District Attorney has told all prosecutors to stop using breathalyzer results in pending cases.

It is not known when the problem started, or how many past cases could be called into question