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Same-sex custody interference nets man 3 years in prison

A conservative businessman has been sentenced to three years in jail for helping a woman kidnap her biological child, flee the country and find new living arrangements overseas after she left a same-sex union and converted to a form of evangelical Christianity. Is it a case of “no good deed going unpunished,” as the defendant claims, or a deliberate act based on religious convictions? According to the court, it’s purposeful interference (and conspiracy to do the same) of a same-sex parent’s right to visitation and custody of her child, likely motivated by the man’s anti-gay beliefs. He has been an influential donor to right-wing religious groups in the past. The biological mother was in a same-sex relationship, legalized under civil union laws in Vermont, before she gave birth to the couple’s daughter. The child was conceived using donor sperm through artificial insemination, and the non-biological mother wasn’t listed on the birth certificate as a parent. After the couple split, the biological mother changed religions and became a self-proclaimed “ex gay.” She was represented in her efforts to deny the other mother’s visitation rights by Liberty Counsel, a law firm that often takes up anti-gay custody cases. This is a case they continuously lost. It eventually became clear that the court was about to strip the biological mother of primary custody and give it to the child’s other mother instead. That is not uncommon in custody cases where one parent refuses to follow the court’s orders and play by the rules.

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Get an attorney’s help to prove your ex-spouse is cohabitating

In Massachusetts, alimony can be suspended or terminated based on the fact that an ex-spouse has been cohabitating with someone else in a common household for three months or longer. But what if your ex won’t cop to the cohabitation? How do you tell if cohabitation is really happening or the whole thing is just your suspicions playing on coincidences? There are some usual tell-tale signs: — Your ex-spouse’s new partner is spending all of his or her nights with your ex. — He or she is parking down the street, around the corner, or trying to hide the car in the garage. — The kids have been told not to mention their new “Uncle” or “Aunt” to you. Most of the actual evidence that you can take into a courtroom isn’t easily obtained without the help of an attorney and, quite possibly, a private investigator. If you’re only paying a modicum of support, and the payments are due for only another year or so, you’ll have to ask yourself if the cost of investigation and litigation is worth the result. However, if you’re paying substantial alimony and it’s due to continue for a long period of time, then you should absolutely seek the help of an attorney to get the proof that you need to obtain a modification. What sort of evidence can an attorney get that can help your modification request? Cell phone records, for example, can often be obtained with the help of an attorney. Even if

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Rape victims can be forced into family court to defend custody

It seems like something that should be impossible, but it isn’t: A woman is raped and conceives a child during the rape. The rapist is convicted of the crime and the woman, whose religion prohibits abortion, gives birth to the child — then has to fight her rapist for custody of the child. This is the reality that is facing at least one woman in Massachusetts. While this victim has gone public with her plight, there are likely countless others quietly facing the same trauma in the state’s family courts. While research is limited, studies indicate that more than 70 percent of rape victims who conceive eventually choose to give birth rather than abort the pregnancy. Laws regarding rape victims who become pregnant during the assault vary widely from state to state. Some offer no protection to victims at all, while a few outright bar a convicted rapist from custody. Many states, like Massachusetts, fall somewhere in between. The current law in Massachusetts was passed in 2014, and it appears to give women more protection than some other states — however, it isn’t without its critics because it actually provides rapists a clear forum that they can use to continue to harass and traumatize their victim. The law allows a rapist to seek visitation and requires the judge to make a determination on the issue. The judge has to consider whether or not the child is of suitable age to have visitation, agree to the visitation, or visitation is in

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Large donation leads to accusations of property division fraud

Hidden assets are a major concern for divorce lawyers. Not only are they illegal, they can end up causing major headaches down the road. That’s exactly what lies behind the troubles facing the Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts. The Institute was gifted a total of $63 million over the years by it’s largest benefactor — which certainly has earned him some significant accolades that he must value far more than the money. Unfortunately, it seems like a portion of those funds were part of the marital assets that he actively hid from his wife at the time of their divorce. Now, she would like her portion paid back — which could put the Institute in a crunch if it has already spent or allocated the money to one of its programs. It will also likely tarnish the reputation of its benefactor permanently, despite the size of his donations. The Institute’s benefactor and his wife of 50 years divorced in 2010. During the process, the benefactor stated that he did not have any offshore accounts — conveniently forgetting about a tidy $4.5 million tucked away in a Swiss Account. That $4.5 million became part of a larger donation — $40 million — transferred to the Institute in 2014. The Institute’s benefactor may have thought that he was safe from his ex-wife’s scrutiny by then, or that the money would be able to transfer undetected, but that clearly wasn’t the case. Perhaps he thought that it was simply too late, now that

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Same-sex divorce terms must be carefully considered

As bad of a situation as divorce can be, there are some people who are just thankful that they have the chance to legally end a legal marriage, including a same-sex marriage. In fact, same-sex marriage legalization coincides with a drop in teen suicide rates, which shows the results of empowerment. Same-sex couples have fought long and hard to be able to get married. With that right comes the right to divorce. For these individuals, the legal protections they have are the same as those of a same-sex couple. We know that you might feel like you are walking a new path if you are in a same-sex marriage and need to get divorced. We can help you to learn about how the divorce will work in your case. There are some special considerations that we will need to work with you to address. One of these is child custody if you and your spouse had children together. Just like other divorce cases, same-sex divorce cases also have to deal with property division. Massachusetts laws govern how property is divided if the court handles the division. As an alternative method, you and your ex can work together to come to terms about who gets what and other matters related to the divorce. Once an agreement is made, the court will need to approve it. Some same-sex couples have prenuptial and postnuptial agreements. In these cases, the agreement lays out the foundation for the property division settlement. Whether you have a

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Questions to ask when deciding if you should get divorced

As same-sex couples gained the legal right to get married in Massachusetts and in many parts of the United States, the issue of same-sex divorce also became more common. Same-sex couples struggle with the same issues that any couples have, such as trying to decide if divorce is the best option and attempting to figure out what is best for their futures, their families, and the like. Below are a few important questions that renowned divorce writer Dr. Susan Allison suggests couples ask at this time: 1. When did you feel happiest while you and your spouse were married? By determining when you felt the happiest, you can sometimes see why that joy has left the marriage. This can help you see if it’s a temporary issue or something that can’t be fixed. 2. Why did you tie the knot in the first place? Of course, many couples simply fall in love, but there are many other factors that play into this decision. For instance, perhaps it was easier to get married at the time for the sake of health care benefits and getting on the same insurance plan. 3. What scares you the most about staying together? If you dread the thought of putting off divorce, what is is that really worries you? This question helps you see what you’re really afraid of and if it’s something that can only be avoided by ending the relationship. These are just three of the 20 questions Dr. Allison suggests couples ask

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Advice from financial planners on preparing for divorce

Many married couples live comfortably for years without thinking much about how much they have saved for retirement. If they get divorced, as couples over 50 are increasingly doing, and they have to divide up their assets, they often realize that they’ve been spending too much and saving too little. Many Americans reach that realization as they get closer to retirement. However, when you’re suddenly faced with living on roughly half the income you’re used to while maintaining your own home, the financial consequences of inadequate planning can be particularly serious. Financial planners note a number of things that they’ve found with their divorced clients and have some advice based on their experience to help people better prepare for the potential of retirement years without their spouse. — Over 75 percent say that people should learn how to better manage their finances. — Some 73 percent say people should understand the long-term consequences of their divorce. — Almost 57 percent say they should understand the tax implications of their settlement. — Over 50 percent recommend increasing retirement savings. — Almost 43 percent recommend reducing spending. — Over 36 percent suggest getting a prenuptial agreement. — Over 19 percent recommend getting long-term care insurance. — Almost 18 percent recommend selling off high-value assets like real estate before the divorce settlement is final. Many of these recommendations are wise whether you and your spouse live out the rest of your lives together or call it quits. If you’re already at the stage

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Who is at fault for a pedestrian accident in Massachusetts?

Drivers have a great duty to operate their vehicles responsibly. Pedestrians who are injured by automobiles can make claims for money damages against the driver’s liability insurance. To succeed in your claim you will need to show the driver was negligent in hitting you. Typically drivers who hit pedestrians are found to be at fault. But sometimes the pedestrian can do something to contribute to the accident as well. Massachusetts has a modified comparative fault standard, meaning you must be less than 50% at fault for the accident to recover anything. If you meet the threshold of less-than-50%-at-fault, then the court will reduce your award by the percentage they find you liable for. For example, if the court awards you $1 million dollars, but finds that you were 10% at fault for the accident then your damage award would be reduced by $100,00. (Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 231 section 85). When is the Blame Shared for a Pedestrian Accident? Just as drivers have a responsibility to operate their vehicles safely, there are expectations placed upon pedestrians as well. When a pedestrian victim contributes to the dangerous situation that caused the pedestrian accident, the court will determine how much blame should be attributed to them. The following pedestrian behaviors will usually be held by a court to demonstrate negligence by the pedestrian, which can reduce or even the amount of money the injured pedestrian can recover: • Jaywalking, which involves crossing the street outside of a designated crosswalk. • Crossing against

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Lower back pain a lingering effect of many car accidents

Muscle wear and tear causes pain: The lower back is actually the most common site of back pain and injuries when people experience the types of traumas that collisions on the road can cause. When the muscles and ligaments that hold the bones in the spinal column in place become strained or torn, they weaken and may not be able to stabilize the spine correctly. This process is the ultimate cause of lower back pain. Don’t delay examination when pain persists: Those who experience lower back pain in the wake of a bus or car accident should seek medical attention immediately to determine the exact cause of the pain. A precise diagnosis frequently requires a thorough medical exam, x-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and CT scans. These extra tests may only be needed if the pain doesn’t go away on its own or with conservative treatment. Treatments range from ice or heat to prescription pain medications and extended physical therapies, with the precise treatment approach tailored to the patient. Studies have also proven that resting in bed beyond a day or two may actually be counterproductive to recovery. Moving on may be difficult: For some car accident victims, lower back pain lingers, preventing them from resuming everyday activities such as work and caring for children. When other parties are responsible for such injuries due to their failure to adhere to the required duty of care, they may be legally responsible for medical bills, pain, suffering, and other damages. To pursue

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What is ‘negligence?’

Virtually all personal injury claims and lawsuits are centered on one principle: negligence. This can be defined as “Failure to exercise the care toward others which a reasonable or prudent person would do in the circumstances, or taking action which such a reasonable person would not.” Essentially, what this means is showing no regard or a blatant disregard for the safety of others with your actions (or inactions). When you are injured through no fault of your own, odds are negligence is somehow going to be the root cause of it, and proving that the other party was negligent is what makes you entitled to compensation for your injuries. Negligence in Car Accidents Car accidents are almost entirely about negligence. If you are involved in an accident, there are dozens of ways negligence could have been involved. For example, if you are struck by a driver who runs a red light, they could be held liable for negligence for not paying attention to the changing traffic signal. If they were unable to stop their car, the negligence could mean driving too fast for the road conditions or failing to properly maintain their vehicle’s brakes. If they were intoxicated, then that also contributes to their negligence, and thus their liability for the accident. Premises Liability Law If you slip and fall on a wet floor at a store or fail to notice a rut in the ground and you break your ankle, you could be eligible to receive compensation through “premises

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