Category Archives: Worcester Court

Child Support

The legislature is required to review and revamp the MA child support guidelines every three years. This means that every four years or so the child support guidelines are updated. While there is a committee, consisting of some attorneys, I often find that the legislature is not creating a formula that is most beneficial to the low or even middle class income.

In years past the guidelines have changed as to whether they will include all sources of income or simply just apply a 40-hour work week. Years ago, there was an increase once children became teenagers, and only the parent that provided health insurance for the children were entitled to deduct it. That has all since changed and likely will never return. Based on the case Morales, you no longer are required to prove a substantial and material change in circumstances in order to request a child support modification.

A new child support guidelines should be effect on August 1, 2017, or so we are told. Generally, the attorneys are able to review the new guidelines 4-6 weeks prior to them becoming effective. Until they are released, then we can do is speculate as to what the new guidelines will look like and how they will impact our clients. I would suggest anyone interested in finding out how the new guidelines will affect them to contact my office to book an appointment so we can discuss how you are impacted and the best way to protect yourself in the event that the guidelines will change for your family, if and when a modification is filed.

When is a good time to do estate planning?

Holding patient hand in hospital, showing care and love

 

All the time. Anytime. Now. When you are pregnant or having a child it is a good time. When you are getting married it is a good time. When you are thinking about retirement it is a good time. When you have assets it is a good time. When you don’t think your assets are worth anything it is a good time.

Everyone should have three basic estate planning documents executed.

  1. Will
  2. Durable Power of Attorney
  3. Health Care Proxy.

No one wants to plan for their health to fail or their mind to deteriorate or even to die. However, everyone must consider that it is a possible reality and ultimately you will also die.

Will

Most people think “I have nothing so why should I waste my money.” The truth is everyone has something. It might not be assets, but children. When you first have children, no matter your age you should have a Will executed. The purpose of the Will, even without assets, is to ensure that you pick the guardian(s) who will care for your children when you are no longer here. If you have assets you want to ensure that your assets go to the people you want to leave them to. If you do not have a Will then your estate must be probated and anyone, even a stranger, can seek to be the person in charge of distribution of your assets.

Durable Power of Attorney

Once executed, a power of attorney comes into effect when you are mentally incapacitated. The person who you designate will make financial decisions on your behalf and pay your bills during the period of incapacity. If you later gain capacity, such as coming out of a coma, then the assigned power of attorney no longer has authority to act on your behalf until and if you become incapacitated again.

Without executing a power of attorney, and if you became incapacitated, then someone would have to go to court and obtain a conservatorship to pay your bills. The power of attorney allows the same privileges without the need, time and expense of having to go to court to get such permission. If bills do not get paid then you may lose everything you have worked so hard for, including your vehicle or house.

Health Care Proxy

Like the power of attorney, a health care proxy comes into effect when you are mentally incapacitated. The person who you designate will make medical decisions on your behalf during the period of incapacity. If you later gain capacity, such as coming out of a coma, then the assigned proxy no longer has authority to act on your behalf until and if you become incapacitated again.

Without executing a health care proxy, and if you became incapacitated, then someone may have to go to court and obtain a guardianship to make medical decisions. Most people assume that because they are married their spouse has this right, or their parents if not married. The proxy allows you to pick the person who can make the medical decisions. It does not have to be your spouse or your parents.

Just think, if you are a child of divorced parents who agree on nothing, and you are not married, will your mother or father make that decision? Assuming you have a good relationship with both parents, they are both in the hospital demanding to make that medical choice on your behalf, yet they disagree on the medical treatment. Without a health care proxy, the hospital will be unable to act (absent and emergency) until a court intervenes and determines who should make the medical decision. Court proceedings can be time-consuming and costly. The health care proxy avoids the needs for a court to intervene.

Once you have a health care proxy executed do not sign another one just because the hospital or doctor’s office gave you another one. If you do you are voiding out the previous one done by an attorney.  Instead simply tell the medical providers you already have one.

Once you have executed the documents it does not mean you never should think about them again. They should be reviewed and updated as needed. It is my suggestion that you review them at least every five (5) years.

Worcester Judges

From: mass.gov

With the retiring of Judge Gregory Roach, I was considering his career, and thinking about what made a him so successful in Worcester.  Below are my ideas:

Having never been a judge I can only assume that their job is very difficult at times. Trying to weed through all the testimony and determine what the real actual facts of the case. As an attorney, it is our obligation to convince the Judge that that our version of the story is correct and that they should find in our client’s favor.

It is very frustrating when the judge does not know the law, or the level of proof required, and who bears that burden to prove something, or when the required proof shifts to the other party.  The attorney then has an obligation to educate the court.  Judge Roach knew the law, something I could count on when appearing in his court.

In my opinion a perfect judge is very well versed in the law, knows all relevant case law as it changes, and can apply the law properly without me having to do any extra work. My focus should always be on the facts and how those facts apply to the law and thus why the court should rule in my client’s favor.

It is very helpful when a judge listens to facts, and when appropriate, gives the parties feedback as how the judge might rule given the limited facts presented. Feedback is most helpful in the Family and Probate Court and Housing Court cases. Sometimes it is the push the parties need to settle a matter.

No matter what, it is not only required, but imperative that judge remain neutral throughout the proceedings, not taking favoritism over a party and rely on the facts of the case and the law when deciding, especially since very decision they make impacts a person and/or family.