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Who Gets the Dog After Couples Break Up?

Domestic animals, such as dogs, are considered personal property under Massachusetts law. When a romantic relationship ends, what happens to the pet the couple jointly owned? This issue has become increasingly common for couples going through a break-up, particularly...

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The Importance of Expert Site Visits

In real estate, land use, and environmental cases, experts can often make or break your case. Once hired, experts are usually involved at every stage of the litigation. One of the first things an expert should do is visit the site to gain firsthand knowledge of the...

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Massachusetts Appeals Court Answers Two Commonly Asked Real Estate Law Questions: (1) When Are the Rights In Property Effectively Transferred? and (2) If a Private Road Separates Two Properties, Who Owns the Road?

In Trustees of Boston College v. NCDS of the Sacred Heart, Inc., the Appeals Court addressed each of these questions and provided a comprehensive overview of principles and doctrines commonly invoked by parties in connection with their claims to rights in a way that...

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Is There a Future for the CFPB?

The Supreme Court is set to rule this term on the constitutionality of funding for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), in Consumer Financial Protection Bureau v. Community Financial Services Association of America, Limited, and the future of the agency...

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When Is Sole Legal Custody Appropriate?

"Shared legal custody" is defined in G. L. c. 208, § 31 as "continued mutual responsibility and involvement by both parents in major decisions regarding the child's welfare including matters of education, medical care and emotional, moral and religious development."...

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Student Loans and Bankruptcy

For individuals seeking to discharge debt through bankruptcy, student loans are unique in that they require a bankruptcy court’s determination that payment of said loans would impose an undue hardship on the debtor and the debtor’s dependents. 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(8)....

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Massachusetts Zoning Act Empowers Abutters

Adopted in 1975, the Massachusetts Zoning Act (“Zoning Act”) provides a set of statewide standards that govern municipalities’ promulgation and enforcement of zoning regulations. Yet for homeowners looking to renovate, the Zoning Act can make it easier than one would...

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Doing More with Less: In Zoning Board of Appeals of Milton v. HD/MW Randolph Avenue, LLC, et. al., the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Affirms a Judgment by the Housing Appeals Committee to Strike Down Restrictions in a Comprehensive Permit that Made an Affordable Housing Project Significantly More Uneconomic

In 2014, the Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency (“MassHousing”) issued a project eligibility letter to developer HD/MW Randolph Avenue, LLC (“HD/MW”) for a ninety unit, mixed-income residential development in Milton. The letter qualified HD/MW to apply to the Milton...

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Why Boston for International Arbitration?

Boston is known as the “Hub” for a reason and, in recent years, Boston has become the world’s top biotech hub, with over 1,000 biotech companies calling the Greater Boston area home. Boston also is a world-renowned educational hub, with over one hundred colleges and...

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Arbitrating Against a Foreign State

In a recent case from the District of Columbia Circuit, Process and Industrial Developments Ltd. v. Federal Republic of Nigeria, the DC Circuit allowed an arbitration enforcement action to proceed against Nigeria despite a foreign court’s setting aside of the arbitral...

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Overcoming the Presumption of Parentage

Massachusetts Probate and Family Courts are statutorily authorized to establish parentage pursuant to complaints filed under M.G.L. c. 209C, § 5 (“209C”). Under 209C (specifically 209C, § 6(a)(1)), there exists a statutory presumption whereby the spouse of an...

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What Happens If They Refuse to Arbitrate?

A recent case out of the Seventh Circuit, Bartlit Beck LLP v. Okada, dealt with a common question about arbitration: what happens when the other side refuses to participate. In Bartlit Beck, that law firm had represented Kazuo Okada in a multi-billion dollar lawsuit...

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OSHA Drops Its Vaccine Mandate for Large Businesses

Last week, in a statement and a notice of withdrawal, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) officially withdrew its emergency temporary standard (“ETS”) that required large employers, with 100 or more employees, to implement COVID-19 vaccination...

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Beneficiary Designations & Divorce

In American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus v. Parker, the SJC ruled that a life insurance beneficiary designation naming an ex-spouse as beneficiary was revoked following the parties’ divorce by operation of law, pursuant to the Massachusetts Uniform...

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Can You Keep Your House Post-Divorce?

In many divorces, the house is frequently sold during or shortly after the divorce. This is generally because one, or in some cases, two streams of income were sufficient to maintain the carrying costs on one household, but would be insufficient to maintain the...

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Enforcement of Emergency Arbitration Awards

US courts continue to be divided on the enforceability of emergency arbitration awards.  As addressed in previous writings, in 2019 the US District Court for the Northern District of Georgia refused to enforce an international Emergency Award in the Al Raha case,...

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Court Upholds Modification Judgment Shifting Custody of Children to Father When Record Reveals Mother’s Conduct Toward Father Constituted A Material Change In Circumstance Necessitating Modification In The Best Interests Of The Children.

In a recent Rule 23 decision, a panel of the Massachusetts Appeals Court upheld the lower court’s modification judgment shifting legal and primary physical custody of the parties’ two minor children from their mother to their father, noting the mother’s conduct...

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Changes to Come in Banking Regulation?

On July 9, 2021, President Biden issued an executive order that could spell changes for banking regulation.  The Executive Order’s stated purpose is to promote a “fair, open, and competitive marketplace” and the Order asserts that “in the financial-services sector,...

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When can a child’s name be changed?

In a recent decision by the Appeals Court of Massachusetts, Gomes v. Candido, the court clarified the standard that is used when two parents disagree about their child’s surname. In the trial court, the parents, who were unmarried but in a relationship when the twin...

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Food Fight: Ioan Micula, et. al. v. Romania

In Ioan Micula, et. al. v. Romania, Swedish food industry brothers Viorel and Ioan Micula asked the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to affirm a federal judge’s ruling ordering Romania to pay the remaining balance of $96 million on a $356...

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Why the Arbitral Seat Matters

The recent Tenth Circuit case of Goldgroup Resources, Inc. v. DynaResource de Mexico, S.A. de C.V., 994 F.3d 1181 (10th Cir. 2021) helps to show why the selection of an arbitral seat can make a significant difference. The background to the case is a shareholder...

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What is the Standard for Civil Contempt?

In Tsavidis v. Tsavidis (Memo and Order Pursuant to Rule 23.0, June 7, 2021), the Massachusetts Appeals Court affirmed the Probate and Family Court’s finding that there was no contempt by the mother. Pursuant to the father and mother’s Separation Agreement, the father...

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The International Letter of Credit

Letters of credit are a common payment mechanism in international trade that normally allow a buyer to substitute the financial integrity of a stable credit source such as a bank for his own. For the seller of goods, a letter of credit functions as a bank’s...

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COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave

Governor Baker recently signed legislation requiring employers to provide COVID-19 emergency paid sick leave to eligible employees who are unable to work for COVID-19-related reasons. Eligible employees will be entitled to up to 40 hours of paid leave, with a weekly...

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Update: Senate Votes to Repeal “True Lender” Rule

Late last year, we wrote about the issuance of the “true lender” rule by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), which went into effect in December 2020.  Prior to the issuance of that rule, federal courts had differed as to whether third-party lenders...

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What Happens to My Health Insurance Post-Divorce?

In many divorce cases, the parties and their children maintain common health insurance coverage, often through a plan that is available as the result of one party's employment. If both parties are employed at the time of their divorce, then it is commonplace for each...

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Advantages to International Arbitration: Enforceability

In prior posts here at FITCH, we have discussed some of the reasons that parties choose international arbitration over litigation for their cross-border disputes. Over the next few months, we will be taking a deeper dive into the advantages of international...

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Discovering “Hidden” Assets in a Divorce

It is natural for a couple going through a contentious divorce to lack trust in each other. Accordingly, one of the first questions that a divorcing party will often ask their attorney is how they can be sure that their soon-to-be-ex-spouse has fully and fairly...

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Advantages to International Arbitration: Confidentiality

In prior posts here at FITCH, we have discussed some of the reasons that parties choose international arbitration over litigation for their cross-border disputes. Over the next few months, we will be taking a deeper dive into the advantages of international...

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Can a judge order that a retirement account be divided equally between the parties as of the date of their divorce if one party made contributions to that account after the parties separated but before the date of divorce?

This issue was examined by the Appeals Court in the recent case, Hoy v. Hoy. In that case, the wife was the primary wage earner during the parties' long-term marriage and the trial judge in the divorce found that the husband was in need of alimony. However, because...

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District Court Finds in Favor of T-Mobile in Zoning Dispute

In the recent Memorandum and Order issued in the case T-Mobile Northeast LLC v. The Town of Barnstable, the Massachusetts District Court held that the Town of Barnstable Planning Board ("the Planning Board") had violated the Telecommunications Act of 1996 ("the TCA")...

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Business Interruption Coverage Class Action

A case recently filed with the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, Rinnigade Art Works v. Hartford Financial Group, is the first suit in Massachusetts seeking class action status in challenging an insurance company's denial of coverage for...

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Co-Parenting During the COVID-19 Crisis

In his open letter dated March 24, 2020, Chief Justice Casey indicated that it is important, during the current Covid-19 crisis and corresponding Stay-at-Home Advisory, for children to spend time with both of their parents. While this provided welcome clarity for...

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When Income Attribution is Appropriate

In a recent case, Macri v. Macri, the Massachusetts Appeals Court recently cemented a trial court decision to, among other things, attribute income to Husband, who was unemployed at the time of trial. Attribution of income is often a contested topic in the Probate and...

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Arbitrating Technology Transfer Disputes

Technology transfer is a critical way for innovation companies to enter into new markets and profit from the hard work that they have done in developing new technology. These agreements can take many forms, from an assignment of the intellectual property rights to a...

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The New Judgments Convention

One of the main reasons that we at FITCH recommend that the vast majority of cross-border contracts contain international arbitration clauses is because of the New York Convention. More formally called the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign...

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What Happens at a Pre-Trial Hearing?

If a divorce or 209C case is pending, the court, sooner or later, will schedule what is known as a pre-trial hearing. Sometimes this is also referred to as a pre-trial conference. This will happen either on the court's own initiative once a complaint has been on file...

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When is Joint Legal Custody Inappropriate?

Massachusetts courts recognize two distinct types of custody of children. The first, physical custody, is what most litigants mean when they refer to having "joint custody" or "primary custody" of their child. Physical custody is a term that describes the amount of...

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To Be or Not to Be . . . a Debt Collector

In Obduskey v. McCarthy & Holthus L.L.P., the Supreme Court examined whether an entity engaged in the limited purpose of enforcing a security interest in a nonjudicial foreclosure proceeding fit the definition a "debt collector," thereby subjecting it to all of...

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Serving Process on Chinese Companies in US Litigation

Hundreds of billions of dollars' worth of goods and services flow between the United States and China every year, and all of that commerce gives rise to disputes.  While we at FITCH usually recommend entering into International Arbitration agreements when contracting...

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Business Valuation in Divorce Cases

Business valuation arises in divorce cases where one or both spouses have an ownership interest in a closely held corporation - that is, a corporation which has a limited number of shareholders. This ownership interest is usually considered a marital asset, just like...

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Handling your First International Arbitration

It was bound to happen eventually.  Maybe your company just went global or maybe they've been working internationally for years.  But eventually, whether through some mistake in translation in an international contract, some global or local change in circumstances, or...

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Business Valuation in Divorce Cases

Business valuation arises in divorce cases where one or both spouses have an ownership interest in a closely held corporation - that is, a corporation which has a limited number of shareholders. This ownership interest is usually considered a marital asset, just like...

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Can I relocate with my child after divorce?

If you're a parent of a minor child of divorce in Massachusetts, can you relocate to a different state or country with your child (an issue the courts call "removal")? Assuming no negotiated agreement to relocate with your co-parent (a preferred outcome in resolving...

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Texas Judge Dismisses Suit Against ICDR

A judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas has dismissed a case against the International Centre for Dispute Resolution on the basis of arbitral immunity. The holding in Wartsila North America, Inc., et al v. International Centre for Dispute...

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Jim Brooks Community Stabilization Act Fails to Pass

Last month, the Judiciary Committee of the Massachusetts House of Representatives essentially killed any chance of the passage of the Jim Brooks Community Stabilization Act, Bill H.4142, by "referring the Act to study," a euphemism generally understood in the...

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How Does My Pension Get Valued During Divorce?

A pension is one of the hardest earned assets a spouse can own. Divorce professionals are acutely aware of this and take great care to apply the same kind of focus, hard work and attention to detail to value a pension as the plan owner applied to earning it. This blog...

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What happens at a pre-trial conference?

Many litigants, particularly in highly contested divorce or custody modification actions, often insist that their case will never settle, and will ultimately need to proceed to a trial. In fact, only a very small portion of such cases which are filed in the...

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I Didn’t Quit – You Fired Me!

An employee who voluntarily quits their job is, in most circumstances, not entitled to collect unemployment benefits or sue their employer for wrongful termination. However, an employee who believes they were forced to quit their job because their working conditions...

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Beware the Convention on the International Sale of Goods

Would it surprise you to learn that when you see a clause in your international sales contract stating that Massachusetts (or any other State's) law applies, that it actually incorporates an international treaty that will likely supersede the Uniform Commercial Code...

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Bitcoin: What’s its Worth in Court?

The price of Bitcoin has recently skyrocketed, rising from $1200 per Bitcoin in the second quarter of 2017 to $ 10,000 per Bitcoin in 2018. However, the law has not kept pace: critical questions remain regarding how Bitcoin should be valued. For example, if Bitcoin is...

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Bitcoin: What’s its Worth in Court?

The price of Bitcoin has recently skyrocketed, rising from $1200 per Bitcoin in the second quarter of 2017 to $ 10,000 per Bitcoin in 2018. However, the law has not kept pace: critical questions remain regarding how Bitcoin should be valued. For example, if Bitcoin is...

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The Positive-Selfish-Side of Effective Co-Parenting

In contested custody cases where a child rejects contact with a parent, the rejected parent often accuses the aligned parent of engaging in alienating behaviors that are intended to sever the attachment between the child and the rejected parent. But aligned parents...

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Medical Marijuana in the Workplace

In a recent landmark decision, Barbuto v. Advantage Sales & Marketing, LLC, the Supreme Judicial Court ruled that an employer that terminated an employee for testing positive for marijuana use (which violated the company's policy) could be found to have...

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50/50 Parenting: Quantity versus Quality

I recently came across Edward Kruk, PhD's article in Psychology Today entitled "Equal Parenting and the Quality of Parent-Child Attachments." The article summarizes research on parenting plans that I have found useful in support of some clients' requests for equal...

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CFPB Anti-Arbitration Rule Repealed

On Wednesday, November 1, 2017, President Donald Trump signed legislation repealing an anti-arbitration rule that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ("CFPB") had promulgated in early July. Repeal of the CFPB rule was welcomed by representatives of the financial...

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U.S. Supreme Court Limits Scope of FDCPA.

On June 12, 2017, the United States Supreme Court decided a case captioned Henson v. Santander Consumer USA, Inc., No. 16-349. In an opinion authored by newly-appointed Justice Neil Gorsuch and hailed by the financial services industry, the unanimous Court held that a...

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How Do Criminal Charges Issue?

When an individual is charged with a crime over which the District Court has jurisdiction (all misdemeanors, felonies punishable of a sentence of up to five years and certain other felonies), a criminal complaint issues against them. A criminal complaint is the...

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Lesson in Co-parenting from the Presidential Debate

A final question to the candidates during a recent presidential debate reminded me of a topic that often comes up in the context of co-parenting work in high-conflict cases, interviews by custody evaluators, questioning at depositions in custody disputes, documents...

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International Recovery of Child Support

On August 30, 2016, President Obama signed the instrument of ratification for the Hague Convention on International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance. A White House press release of the same date describes the Convention's "numerous...

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Division of Banks Issues Warning About ATM ‘Skimming’

The Massachusetts Division of Banks (the "Division") has issued a letter to Non-Bank ATM Registrants in the Commonwealth to warn them about a "concerning increase" in ATM skimming fraud. The Division's March 16, 2016 letter is published on its website. ATM skimming...

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Of Jurors and Jury Instructions

I attended a recent Federal Bar Association breakfast that was hosted by a thoughtful member of the federal bench in Massachusetts. He raised an important question about juror comprehension: Should each juror have a personal copy of the Court's jury instructions and...

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Restricted Stock Units:  Income for Child Support Purposes

In a recent appeal arising from a post-divorce modification action, Hoegen v. Hoegen (14-P-1491), the Massachusetts Appeals Court decided that income realized from vested restricted stock units (RSUs) must be included in the calculation of child support. In doing so,...

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Mediation Strategy: The First Plenary Session

I recently participated in a panel discussion for a mediation course at a local law school. A well-known full time mediator and a U.S. federal magistrate judge who regularly conducts mediations in the federal court were with me. A highly engaged class of law students...

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Division Of Banks Told That Hearings Are Not Optional

A Superior Court judge recently expressed little patience with the Massachusetts Division of Banks's (the "Division's") failure to hold a hearing prior to issuing cease and desist letters, calling it "disturbing" that two statutes requiring hearings "were completely...

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Financial Stress and Divorce

Financial stress is often cited as a leading cause of divorce. Financial stress can have an extreme impact on a relationship. It can eventually wear away at the love and affection that one has for another because of how consuming the issue can be in someone's life -...

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Challenging An Arbitration Award

Alternative dispute resolution is rightly gaining steam as an efficient, fair mechanism for the resolution of complex business disputes. Many companies are redrafting their standard-form contracts to include mandatory arbitration clauses. This is particularly true for...

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Changing the Vocabulary Around Non-Custodial Parenting

In negotiating parenting plans for nearly 20 years, I have gradually eliminated a few different words from my vocabulary. For example, it's been a long time since I've used the words "visit" or "visitation" to describe what a non-custodial parent does when he or she...

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Family Law Arbitration

I recently returned from the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers Arbitration Training Institute as a Certified Family Law Arbitrator. A few words about family law arbitration: Arbitration falls within the category of alternative dispute resolution ("ADR"). It can...

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Challenging A Zoning Decision In Boston

Local zoning decisions can radically change the landscape of neighborhoods, and challenging a local zoning board's decision in the Commonwealth's courts poses several procedural traps for the unwary. This is particularly true for challenging zoning decisions issued by...

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Homestead Estates in Massachusetts

Whether a litigant is seeking to enforce a judgment or protect assets from creditors, it is important to be aware of the implications of a homestead estate. Also referred to as homestead protection, a homestead estate safeguards part of a person's or family's primary...

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SJC Interprets and Upholds ‘Obsolete Mortgage’ Statute

Where a mortgage states the term of its underlying debt but includes no separate statement of its own term, the two are one-and-the-same, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (the "SJC") has decided in an opinion interpreting and upholding the so-called "obsolete...

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Adoption Notice to Sperm Donor Not Required

In a case entitled Adoption of a Minor, SJC-11797, slip op. (May 7, 2015), the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decided that lawful parents (a married same-sex couple) of a child conceived through in vitro fertilization are not required to give notice to a...

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Massachusetts Guide to Evidence

Massachusetts is one of the few states that has not adopted some version of the Federal Rules of Evidence. The rules of evidence in Massachusetts are not codified, meaning that evidentiary issues are governed by common law. In 1982, the Supreme Judicial Court ("SJC")...

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Using a QDRO to Collect Attorney’s Fees

In Silverman v. Spiro, 438 Mass. 725 (2003), the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court held that a judge can enter a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) requiring a party in a domestic relations dispute to pay the other party's attorney's fees and costs...

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Parenting Plans for Special Needs Children

Two renowned psychologists who work with children in the context of divorce and separation, Daniel B. Pickar, PhD, ABPP and Robert L. Kaufman, PhD, ABPP, presented a seminar at the 50th Anniversary Conference of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts in Los...

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What Is The “Value” Of Real Property?

In litigation, such as contract disputes, construction disputes and divorces, determining the value of real property (like the value of a marital home, for example) may become a key issue in the case. While a seemingly simple concept, the term "value" may have several...

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Changes to Mass. R. Civ. P. 45

The Supreme Judicial Court recently amended Rule 45 of the Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure, effective as of April 1, 2015. The most significant change in the amended Rule 45 is the allowance of "documents only" subpoenas to non-parties. Previously, if only...

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Argument Foreclosed Where Party Did Not Appeal

A recent SJC decision illustrates the unfortunate position in which a party may find itself when it fails to file an appeal but finds itself before an appellate court nonetheless as a result of an appeal filed by the opposing party. In Town of Athol v. Professional...

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Earned Sick Time For Employees

In November 2014, Massachusetts voters approved a ballot question that requires all private sector employers to provide employees with up to 40 hours of sick leave per calendar year. Under the new law, which goes into effect July 1, 2015, employers of 11 or more...

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Surviving Alimony Agreements

The Massachusetts Appeals Court recently upheld the "non-modifiability" of surviving alimony agreements under the Alimony Reform Act of 2011 ("act"). The case is called Lalchandani v. Roddy. Specifically, the court in the Lalchandani case cited to Section 4(c) of the...

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What is LEED Certification?

LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, is a certification program that recognizes and promotes environmentally sound building and design practices. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, LEED certification is available not only...

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SJC Says Springfield Foreclosure Ordinances Are Preempted

In a decision handed down earlier this month, the Supreme Judicial Court (the "SJC") has held that two foreclosure-related local ordinances enacted by the City of Springfield (the "City") are preempted by existing Massachusetts statutes.In Easthampton Savings Bank...

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Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program

Helping to prevent possible international parental child abductions is the U.S. Department of State's Children's Passport Issuance Alert Program (CPIAP). CPIAP provides a mechanism for a parent(s) and/or legal guardian(s) to be contacted and alerted when someone...

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Can I Buy a Tesla in Massachusetts?

The Commonwealth's highest court, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, recently answered that question in the affirmative. On September 15, 2014, the Court decided Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association, Inc. v. Tesla Motors MA, Inc., 469 Mass. 675...

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The Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (the "Hague Convention") is a multilateral treaty. The signatory countries cooperate in returning children to their home country for custody proceedings. The United States assisted in drafting...

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Stages of a Lawsuit (Part 2)

In an earlier post, we discussed the initial pleadings and discovery stages of a lawsuit. This post will address the pre-trial and trial stages. The Pre-Trial StageBy the time discovery ends, the parties should have an understanding of what evidence, including...

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Rights of First Refusal in Parenting Plans

One of the main issues facing divorcing and separating parents is to establish a parenting plan when each party provides care and custody for his or her children. There are a number of different parenting plans that can be negotiated or ordered. Under any such plan,...

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Stages of a Lawsuit (Part 1)

Most first-time litigants are unfamiliar with the process by which a lawsuit moves from filing to resolution. While every lawsuit is unique and different courts have different rules governing litigation procedure, most lawsuits in most courts follow a similar path...

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Comic Demonstrates Child-Centric Approach to Divorce

Louis C.K., one of my favorite standup comics, and the star of the FX series, "Louie," has a serious side. It stems in part from his experience as a divorced dad of two young girls and the effective co-parenting relationship that he has with their mother. In a recent...

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Proposed Bill Prohibits Sex in Marital Home

A Massachusetts state senator has filed a bill that could prohibit a divorcing parent from having sex in his or her own home. The bill states: "In divorce, separate, or 209A proceedings involving children and a marital home, the party remaining in the home shall not...

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New MA Domestic Violence Bill

With unanimous approval, members of the Massachusetts House of Representatives recently advanced An Act relative to domestic violence, new legislation aimed at preventing domestic violence (the "Act"). Said to be driven by the high profile case of Jared Remy, who is...

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Commencement of Appeal Period

The Supreme Court of the United States issued a recent decision answering the question of whether an appeal period begins after a court determines the merits of the case or after it awards attorney's fees and costs.In Haluch Gravel Co. et al. v. Central Pension Fund...

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A Primer on Bitcoin

Bitcoin is a relatively new 'cryptocurrency' in which in which encryption technology enables consumers and businesses to exchange goods for currency over the Internet without having to rely on the element of trust in order to ensure payment. Users buy Bitcoins and...

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Child Abduction: The FBI’s Child ID App

According to the United States Department of Justice, each year about 350,000 children are abducted against the backdrop of divorce or separation. The FBI's first mobile application, which is free and available in iPhone and Android versions, helps the authorities...

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Who gets the engagement ring?

We've been asked the question "who gets the engagement ring?" by a number of clients whose engagements have been terminated prior to marriage. As so often is the case in family law, the answer to that question is "it depends."The starting point in the legal analysis...

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Post-Oral Argument Letters to the Panel

I recently attended a continuing legal education seminar where the Clerk of the Massachusetts Appeals Court, Joseph Stanton, provided useful information concerning post-oral argument letters, often described as "16L Letters." "16L Letters" originate from Rule 16(l) of...

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Limited Issues Settlement Conferences

Settlement conferences in pending divorce and family law cases often result in the parties entering full and final settlement agreements. The parties in such a case appear at an uncontested hearing when they ask the Judge to approve and incorporate their signed...

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Parental Kidnapping

We live in an increasingly mobile society, and many parents today are raising their children in a different city, state or country from where one or both of the parties grew up. When a marriage breaks down and divorce is imminent, there is sometimes concern that the...

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Modifying Child Support by Joint Petition

Massachusetts Courts allow for the filing of a Joint Petition For Modification Of Child Support Judgment, when both parents agree that an adjustment to an existing child support judgment is warranted. Recent amendments to the Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines...

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Optional Appellate Arbitration Rules

The American Arbitration Association recently released Optional Appellate Arbitration Rules, which aim to provide parties with an opportunity to have appeals of an arbitral award heard within the arbitration process itself. Typically, applications to vacate arbitral...

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Child Traveling Abroad with One Parent

Often we are asked by separated or divorced parents, who are vacationing with their children overseas under the terms of their temporary orders or final judgments, whether a parental consent form or permission letter signed by the non-traveling parent is required....

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Motion Practice in the Probate and Family Court

Picture this: it is a Tuesday morning, at 8:30 a.m., and you arrive at the Probate and Family Court with your attorney to appear for a scheduled hearing on a contested motion that you filed. Once you wait on a long line to get through the metal detectors, you enter...

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Parenting Coaches

When parents of minor children separate, and have to establish appropriate parenting plans and make joint legal custodial decisions that are in their children's best interests, it is helpful to engage the services of mental health professionals, who can serve as...

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New Child Support Guidelines

Following what is described as a comprehensive review of the Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines Task Force, the Chief Justice of Massachusetts Trial Court released new Child Support Guidelines that became effective on August 1, 2013. In the Trial Court's June 20,...

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Why Hire an Appellate Attorney?

Why should you hire an appellate attorney? You may be happy with your trial counsel, having already worked and developed a good relationship with your trial counsel for months or perhaps years. Plus, your trial counsel already knows the facts of your case. There are,...

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Modifying Alimony Orders of Other States

With the enactment of the Alimony Reform Act of 2011, almost every former spouse with an alimony order has questioned whether he or she may be subject to the relief from, or the loss of, support payments under the new law. While the provisions of the Act clearly apply...

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Appraisers Have Final Say on Lease Extension Rent

A panel of the Massachusetts Appeals Court recently grappled with the reviewability of rent-setting calculations performed by professional appraisers pursuant to a commercial lease, and determined that even mistaken appraisers will have the last word so long as they...

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Compelling Arbitration in Massachusetts

Like other states, Massachusetts has enacted an arbitration statute that provides a streamlined procedure for compelling a party to arbitrate. Section 1 of the Massachusetts Uniform Arbitration Act, G.L. c. 251, recognizes two types of arbitration agreements: (i)...

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Preparing for a Successful Mediation

How should counsel and parties prepare for the mediation of a business litigation case? For counsel, the process of mediation requires an entirely different mindset and style than he or she is accustomed to in court proceedings. In fact, a common mistake that...

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Post-Divorce Series: Modification

To make it easier for parties who enter written agreements for modification to have such agreements incorporated into enforceable court judgments or orders, Rule 412 has been expanded beyond judgments and orders regarding solely child support, and now include...

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Divorce and the Grieving Process

Generally, attendance at an approved Parent Education Program is required of all divorcing parents of minor children in Massachusetts. To better understand what such a program has to offer, and to learn about the grieving process in the context of divorce, I chose to...

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The Price of Agreeing to Arbitration

In the recent decision of Oxford Health Plans v. Sutter, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that even a "grave error" of an arbitrator is not enough to vacate an award in most cases. Oxford Health Plans had gone to federal court seeking to vacate an arbitrator's...

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Tax Dependency Exemptions

In a case decided last month, the Court held that a Judge of the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court has the authority to order the allocation of tax dependency exemptions for divorced parents. When parents divorce, only one parent is permitted to claim the tax...

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AFCC Annual Conference Divorce Resources

I recently attended the 50th Anniversary Conference of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC). AFCC was founded in 1963, and now consists of more than 4,600 members, representing 49 states and 27 countries worldwide. Members include judges, court...

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Emergency Relief in International Arbitration

Before running off to Court to file an emergency request for a temporary restraining order or a preliminary injunction, counsel should consider whether the same relief can and should be sought from an arbitral institution. Start with review of the agreement at issue...

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Prenuptial Agreements

Flowers are blooming, temperatures are rising --- Spring is in the air. Wedding season is upon us - save the date postcards were mailed in January and June wedding dates are just around the corner. Just when you think all the wedding planning is almost complete, one...

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UCC Article 9 Damages Provisions Displace Common Law

In a case handed down just last month, the Supreme Judicial Court reinforced the long-standing rule that provisions of the Uniform Commercial Code (the "UCC") displace common law principles that would otherwise apply in contexts not governed by the UCC. In Reading...

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GAL Consultants

Custody, visitation and removal cases are often decided based on the investigation and/or evaluation of a court-appointed Guardian ad Litem ("GAL"). GAL Consultants can help clients navigate the process. Probate and Family Court Judges are empowered to appoint a GAL...

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How Long Will My Appeal Take?

A party must act quickly to appeal an adverse judgment. Rule 3(a) of the Massachusetts Rules of Appellate Procedure requires that a Notice of Appeal be filed within 30 days with the clerk of the lower court. This is the most important deadline of the appellate...

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Old Common Law Applied to Current Problem

In a case decided earlier this year, the Appeals Court held that common law precedent some might deem "archaic" lives on in its applicability to structures built prior to 1978 that could, under today's standards, create an actionable water nuisance. In Graziano v....

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Domicile

The domicile statute in Massachusetts can be surprisingly confusing, especially when couples often own multiple homes, live in separate cities for professional reasons, or have recently moved to Massachusetts. All of these situations are governed by M.G.L. c. 208, § 4...

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Hidden Defects May Invalidate Deeds

Recording real estate deeds in a county registry is intended, among other things, to prevent fraud and ensure that a prospective buyer can verify that the seller actually owns the property for sale. In the rare case where a seller sells a property twice, if the first...

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Name Change After a Divorce

I recently read an article in the New York Times entitled "When the New You Carries a Fresh Identity, Too" written by Megan L. Wood that raised interesting questions about divorcing women and a name change after a divorce. The article brought up the fact that many...

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Pre-Teen Parenting Plans

In a recent custody case we litigated in the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court, a case in which the parties' minor child is a smart, articulate, athletic and very talented 11-year-old boy, an excellent resource published by the Association of Family and...

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As Beach Disappears, So Do Property Rights

In a case decided just last week, the Supreme Judicial Court (the "SJC") rejected the Plaintiffs-Appellants' contention that they held an interest in a "moveable" beach lot that shifted with the sands as the original lot disappeared into the Atlantic Ocean. In White...

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Arbitration Rules for Outer Space

The Permanent Court of Arbitration ("PCA"), an intergovernmental body based in The Hague and established by treaty over a century ago to provide international dispute resolution services, has recently issued the first set of rules specifically designed to govern...

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Parallel Parenting Plans

Studies indicate that parents who make disparaging comments about each other, engage in verbal altercations in the presence of their children, place the children in the middle of parental disputes, encourage protective behavior by the children in favor of one parent...

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First Circuit Court of Appeals Hears Culhane Case

A panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit heard oral argument in the matter of Oratai Culhane v. Aurora Loan Services of Nebraska earlier this week. The panel was comprised of Chief Judge Hon. Sandra L. Lynch, Senior Circuit Judge Hon. Bruce...

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EFTA Amendments to Deter Serial Plaintiffs

Banks and other financial institutions that maintain ATMs got good news from Congress to close out the year. On December 11, 2012, the Senate passed H.R. 4367 by unanimous consent, following passage by the House of Representatives in July. The bill now moves to the...

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Motion for Counsel Fees Pendente Lite

All clients involved in litigation need money to pay their counsel's legal bills, which include the initial retainer fee, fees incurred during the pendency of the litigation, and often replenishing the retainer fee. A client obtaining a divorce, however, has a unique...

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The Best Interests Legal Standard

Often we hear about the best interests legal standard that Judges in the Probate and Family Courts apply to make important decisions affecting the lives of minor children. Custody determinations and appropriate parenting plans are based on this guiding principle....

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A Treaty for Enforcement of Judgments Abroad

The litigation of international disputes in U.S. Courts is often disfavored for the simple reason that the enforcement of judgments abroad is notoriously difficult. International arbitration is the preferred alternative to litigation because the United States, along...

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Orders to Vacate the Marital Home

In many divorce cases, when one party tells the other that the marriage has irretrievably broken down and there is no chance of reconciliation, the other party will voluntarily vacate the marital home. Often the primary caretaker of the minor children remains in the...

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Preferred Practices international Arbitration

Over the last eight months, the School of International Arbitration at Queen Mary, University of London conducted a comprehensive and wide-ranging survey on issues germane to international arbitration - particularly on current and preferred practices in the field. The...

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Alimony and Cohabitation

Will an alimony recipient's cohabitation with another result in the termination of alimony? With the implementation of new alimony legislation in Massachusetts, many are left wondering whether an alimony obligor/payor may immediately seek to terminate his/her existing...

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