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Massachusetts

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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Spouse’s affair may not factor into property division

When a Massachusetts spouse has been wronged, the first impulse is often an emotional response aimed at extracting revenge. When we are hurt, embarrassed or surprised by the infidelity of a husband or wife, we often react in a manner that is not rational or in line with our long-term interests. We want the choices of the adulterer to play a role in the property division process. Unfortunately, however, adultery often plays little to no role in the Massachusetts divorce process. Furthermore, attempting to make infidelity into a central issue within a divorce can actually lead to negative consequences for the wronged spouse. The most common way for this to occur involves accruing hefty legal fees for the time and effort spent on proving that adultery made a significant impact on the marriage. This may sound odd, considering that cheating is often the central reason for a divorce. However, consider the following scenarios. If a spouse feels certain that their partner spent a considerable amount of marital assets on funding the affair, it is possible to bring those allegations into play within the divorce process. However, proving this assertion requires a great deal of research and documentation. At the end of a lengthy and expensive process of discovery, it is entirely possible to gain an award that does not even cover the cost of proving that dissipation of assets took place. Another issue involves allegations of abuse. Unless there is clear and convincing evidence that abuse took place, it can

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Older Massachusetts couples face unique property division needs

When older people divorce, the process can be very different from the experience a younger couple might have. Some issues are easier to handle between aging partners, such as a lack of contention surrounding child custody and support. Other issues, however, become far more complicated when a Massachusetts couple has been married for a lengthy period. Among these are complex choices concerning property division. As we age, people tend to accumulate more in the way of assets. These can be tangible assets such as furniture or real estate, or monetary assets such as investment or retirement accounts. By the time many people near or reach retirement age, there are more family assets to divide. At the same time, however, there is also a greater need to make savvy financial decision, as the implications will be felt more acutely in the retirement years when earning potentials tend to decrease. Older couples must ensure that they begin the divorce process with a comprehensive understanding of where their family finances stand. This includes an accounting of not only all of the familial assets, but also of all outstanding debts held by both parties. In addition, it is imperative to fully understand each spouse’s retirement savings, as well as how those assets should be divided. When filing for divorce late in life, the process can feel overwhelming. This is especially true for spouses who have been married for the vast majority of their adult lives. Starting over can feel like a scary prospect, which

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Collaboration during divorce may ease property division strife

When it comes to divorce, many Massachusetts residents think of it as a stressful, contentious and expensive prospect. We all have friends or family members who have gone through long and difficult divorce proceedings that ended with neither party truly happy with the outcome. However, there is another way to approach divorce that may eliminate many of the negative aspects of the process, and can result in a child custody or property division agreement that both parties can feel good about. The concept, known as collaborative divorce, began in 1990 with a family law attorney who had grown weary of the battles that couples wage at the end of their marriage. He wondered what would happen if attorneys and clients worked together to find a mutually agreeable settlement, rather than simply preparing for an ugly courtroom battle. The movement caught on, and there are now an estimated 22,000 lawyers across the country that are trained in collaborative divorce. The process aims to focus on the common goal of dissolving the marriage and allowing both spouses the ability to move on with their lives. Issues such as child custody and support, alimony and division of marital property are dealt with in a straightforward manner. In some cases, the parties and their attorneys meet together, which can make these negotiations much simpler and faster than a traditional approach, which requires a great deal of phone tag and relay of messages. In addition to a faster dissolution of the marriage, cost is another

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Everything but marriage faces changes in 2012

Massachusetts is one of the six states that currently recognize marriage between same-sex couples as legal, but gay rights activists claim progress is far from here. The news the year has been ripe with the trials and tribulations all couples face when going through a divorce, same-sex couples have not been excluded from these hurdles. With the privilege of marriage, couples face the possibility of divorce — regardless of the gender of the couple. Same-sex couples now are encountered the legal fallout of trying to obtain a divorce in states that do not recognize their marriage as legal. This has caused difficulty in obtaining fair property division. Not to mention, trying to come up with a parenting plan between the couple when only one of the parents is the biological parent and there is an issue of custody to begin during the couple’s impending split. Now, there is buzz in the state of Washington that it may become the seventh state to recognize same-sex marriage, but in order for this to happen there is an uphill legislative battle to climb. While Washington appears to have strong public support to legalize gay marriage, support in the legislature is what is required in order for this legislation to pass. Two years ago, Washington voters backed legal rights for same-sex couples. The legislation nicknamed the proposal the “everything but marriage” passage. Essentially this means Washington recognizes rights for same-sex couples such as prohibiting discrimination against gays in employment and housing issues, as well

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