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Been in a motor vehicle accident and have whiplash?

Neck pain from a car accident may be the result of whiplash, also known as Whiplash Associated Disorder (or WAD). WAD is caused by a sudden jolting that occurs in the shoulders and the neck, most often a result of automobile accidents. Car accidents are a traumatic event. In a rear-end accident, the force caused by the impact propels your body forward with your head lagging a split second behind. The inertia from the impact moves throughout the body, causing a rubber banding affect that results in whip lash. In that instant your ligaments, muscles, and tendons can become torn. If you are unsure about your legal rights and need advice from a whiplash / neck injury lawyer, contact The Law Offices of David M. Gabriel and Associates to discuss your rights. Whiplash is tricky to identify, because the symptoms may take days to appear after an accident. One reason symptoms may be delayed is due to adrenaline and cortisol release after a collision. These hormones mask pain and cause a numbing effect that may last well beyond the collision. Once these pain numbing hormones leave your system, the true damage that has been caused remains. These injuries may require medical treatment. The symptoms you experience may range from mildly annoying and irritating to severe and disabling. Common Whiplash Symptoms of WAD • Tinnitus: Also known as a constant ringing in your ears • Discomfort caused by back pain • Issues with your vision including blurred vision • Vomiting or

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Property Division and a Second Divorce

When a Massachusetts couple is engaged, the last thing on their minds may be how their property would be divided in the event of a divorce. No one want to start a marriage by planning for the details of property division in the event of divorce. Unfortunately, statistics show that over 50% of marriages will not survive.  Couples walking down the aisle for a second or third time, should be aware that this number swells to 67%. Spouses who face a second divorce are more likely to take a greater financial hit the second time around. One reason that a second or later divorce is potentially more financially damaging is simple: there is often less to be divided. One or both spouses may still be paying alimony or child support from a previous marriage. In addition, many people see a decline in their financial stability when a prior divorce forces the sale of assets such as a home or investments. There could also be tax implications as a result of selling off assets to settle a divorce. Factor in a lethargic economy, a slowing job market and a persistent decline in home values, and it becomes easy to see how a second divorce can cause more financial damage than the first. The end of a second or third marriage may also come at a stage in a person’s life when retirement is on the horizon. Spouses may also be experiencing age related increased costs associated with health care. The best

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Divorcing at an older age

Although statistics suggest that the rate of divorce may be stabilizing across the US, one demographic is experiencing in increase in divorce rates. Americans aged 50 and older in Massachusetts and elsewhere are turning to divorce now, more than ever before. A professor at a leading university asserts that in 1990, less than one out of every ten people who filed for divorce were age 50 or older; today, that number has skyrocketed to one in four. Although the reasons for filing for divorce at a later age may differ for each individual, older adults who are ending their marriages share some commonalities. One is a more complex division of marital property, as each spouse may have accumulated a diverse set of assets over the course of their lives. Sociologists suggest that there are many factors that lead older Americans to seek divorce. Many have stayed in lackluster marriages as their children have grown to adulthood, believing that prolonging the split would be easier on their children. Another approach on aging suggests that 50 may be the new 30. Unhappy spouses recognize that they have the potential for longevity, recognizing that there may be a long road ahead plagued by unhappiness in their existing marriage. Additionally, more women are now engaged within the workforce, and are no longer financially dependent upon their husbands for financial stability. The American Association of Retired Persons supports this theory, pointing out that women over age 50 initiate divorce more often than men. It was

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Can legal marijuana use cost you custody of your child?

One of the measures on the Massachusetts ballot Nov. 8, Question 4, concerns marijuana. Specifically, it would legalize marijuana for recreational use by adults. Massachusetts is one of five states voting on legalizing recreational marijuana this month. If the measure passes, it would take effect on Dec. 15. However, marijuana retail outlets may not open until 2018. Some child welfare advocates are concerned about a provision in the measure that says that parents’ use of marijuana can’t be used as the primary basis for losing custody or visitation of their children without “clear, convincing and articulable evidence that the person’s actions related to marijuana have created an unreasonable danger to the safety” of a child. The rationale is that many people use marijuana responsibly, and, just as parents aren’t at risk for losing their children if they have an occasional drink, they shouldn’t face that risk if they use marijuana to relax instead. Those supporting that language in the measure point to Colorado, where recreational marijuana was legalized in 2012. People had their marijuana use used against them in child custody cases. One of the authors of the Massachusetts measure says, “Canna-bigotry in custody matters needs to end.” The state Department of Children and Families says that the language of the measure “could limit a social worker’s ability to consider any substances, including marijuana, as a factor for child custody. However, other child welfare advocates argue that social workers can take into consideration any factors that they believe are endangering

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Why married women need to be ‘financial grown-ups’

In a new book written by a personal finance columnist for Reuters, people who have achieved considerable success in business and finance discuss when they first became “financial grownups” in their own lives. For one woman, Sallie Krawcheck, a former executive with Citigroup and Bank of America and founder of an investment website, it wasn’t until she and her husband divorced when she was 28. That’s not unusual. Many women, even today, don’t find themselves taking control of their own finances until they and their husband split up. Ellevest, the website founded by Krawcheck, provides a digital investment platform for low-cost investment in exchange-traded funds (commonly known as ETFs) to help them build wealth. Krawcheck noted that changes in a person’s life can happen without warning. Whether it’s the death of a spouse or (as in her case) learning that your spouse is cheating on you, women who haven’t been actively involved in the household finances can find themselves having to deal with issues they aren’t prepared to handle at one of the most emotionally-devastating periods of their lives. She says it’s a “recipe for financial disaster.” Krawcheck admits that even though she was building a successful financial career when she was married, she was “managing my own finances like a 1950s-era, stay-at-home housewife. He paid the bills, he made the financial decisions. I didn’t even know what our assets were.” She advises all women to take control of their finances and for married women to learn from her mistakes

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Parental alienation versus child abuse: Getting to the truth

In some contentious divorces, one or both spouses are so consumed with hate that they turn their child against the other parent by lying to the child about that parent, sometimes saying that the he or she doesn’t love them. In some cases, children are even convinced to say that a parent has abused them when they haven’t. This goes beyond saying unkind things about your ex in front of a child. It’s known as “parental alienation” because it turns children against a parent for no valid reason and destroys their relationship with a parent. Too often, that parent doesn’t understand the reason for the child’s animosity. Naturally, parental alienation can be highly damaging to a child well into adulthood. However, charges of parental alienation can also allow real child abuse to continue. Family court judges overseeing cases where one parent is alleging abuse and the other parent is claiming parental alienation have to determine who is telling the truth. One law professor notes that unfortunately, when one parent accuses the other of abuse, the parent bringing the charge can actually lose custody, leaving the child in the hands of an unfit or abusive parent because the judge believed that the accuser was guilty of parental alienation. That’s why it’s essential that if you accuse your co-parent of abuse, you have evidence to back it up. Psychologists may be called in to talk with the child. Witnesses may be brought in to testify on both sides. Some experts believe the

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Drug and alcohol testing requirements in child custody agreements

The 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that over 24 million people are married to an alcoholic or drug addict. Many of these marriages, not surprisingly, cannot endure a spouse’s substance abuse. It’s estimated to be the cause of more than 7 percent of all divorces. When a couple has children, it’s essential to take steps during your divorce to ensure your children’s safety. Of course, in many cases, it’s preferable for children to maintain some type of relationship with the parent who’s an addict or alcoholic. Therefore, specific protections need to be included in the custody and visitation agreements to ensure that your children are not endangered emotionally or physically by that parent. A crucial element of any agreement involving an alcoholic or addict is mandated participation in a drug and alcohol testing program. A well-designed program can help reduce the chances of your ex drinking or using drugs when he or she is with the children. Companies like Health Street have testing programs specifically designed for custody and visitation agreements. The agreement can be written in any number of ways. It can mandate that the parent be tested prior to, during and/or after any visitations with the children. Results can be reported to the two parents, the attorneys, and/or the court. The agreement should also designate what can happen if a parent tests positive. He or she could lose visitation rights or potentially all parental rights if a pattern of continued use is found. Your

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Why you should hold off on romance until your divorce is final

Many people going through a divorce can’t even think about the possibility of dating again. However, what if you meet the person you truly believe could be the new love of your life? Even if you’re emotionally ready to become involved in a new relationship, doing so could harm your divorce and custody negotiations. If you begin a new relationship, your estranged spouse could become more difficult to deal with. Even if he or she too is seeing someone else, people’s feelings on these matters aren’t always rational. You’re risking making your negotiations regarding property division and spousal support more difficult. Speaking of spousal support, if you begin living with someone, you won’t be entitled to any. Even if you just have an occasional sleepover, why give your ex reason to argue that you and your new love are cohabitating? It’s important to know that Massachusetts maintains some of its puritanical laws from centuries past. Although it’s rarely prosecuted, adultery is considered a felony here. If you’re seeking a lump-sum settlement rather than payments over time, your spouse may be less willing to go along with that plan if he or she thinks that you’ll soon be cohabitating or remarrying. If you have kids, getting into a new relationship, or even casual dating, soon after a separation can be distressing and confusing for them. They need their parents now more than ever (even if they tell you otherwise). While it’s important to be personally happy and fulfilled, your focus should

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What courts consider marital property

Massachusetts law provides some specific guidelines for the court’s consideration regarding property division in a divorce proceeding. Since Massachusetts is an equitable distribution state, the court is charged with facilitating a settlement that is deemed fair to both parties. This approach differs from a community property division in that “fair” may not necessarily mean “equal.” When a mutually satisfactory division of assets cannot be reached in a divorce proceeding, the court first must determine what assets and debts are to be considered marital property. It must then proceed with an appropriate valuation of that property. Once the property is valued, the court then issues a ruling setting forth a division of property deemed to be equitable. Several factors must be considered by the court in its decision. These factors are defined by Massachusetts statutes, including the length of the marriage, the conduct of the parties during the marriage, the age, health, station and occupation of the parties, the amounts and sources of income, vocational skills and future earning capacities, employability, estate, the liabilities and needs of each party and the amount and duration of any alimony awarded. Additionally, the present and future needs of dependent children must be considered. The court may also consider each party’s contributions with regard to the respective estates, the contributions of each party as homemaker and other specific considerations such as health coverage. The stress of a divorce proceeding can be considerable. Seeking the advice of family law attorney, David M. Gabriel and Associates may

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Social media rants may affect alimony and child support

Social media, Facebook in particular, has become an integrated part of the lives of many Massachusetts residents. Some of us have become so accustomed to sharing our lives online that we update and post almost automatically, with very little thought given to what could happen to that information once it is out of our hands. However, when it comes to issues surrounding one’s divorce, posting is not the best policy, and can actually have serious ramifications for issues such as child support and alimony. Even if you think that your former partner does not or cannot see your Facebook activity, this is not the place to air your grievances about the marriage or divorce. If you make comments online that can be proven false, such as claiming that your ex is not meeting his or her child support obligations, the other party can sue you for libel. Also consider the long-term ramifications; if you post negative things about the other spouse and he or she loses a job because of it, their ability to pay child support or alimony could be severely limited, and they could approach the court to ask for a reduced amount. Another thing to remember is that Facebook is forever. What you write, can almost always be recovered and brought to the attention of a court, even if you have erased it from your news feed. That heightens the risk that a child may one day read the negative things you said about the other parent.

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