How is Property Divided in Massachusetts?

Property Division Laws in Massachusetts?property division laws Massachusetts

Going through a divorce can be a difficult situation. It can lead to stress and high financial costs if not handled and dealt with swiftly and delicately. There is much to consider when going through a divorce, especially when it comes to the question of who gets what. If you are filing for a divorce in Massachusetts, it is important to understand the laws in regards to division of property. The state of Massachusetts is considered an equitable distribution state. What this means is that any assets or debts that were accrued throughout your marriage or prior to your marriage will be divided between both parties in such a way that the court deems fair to both parties involved. This does not always end up being an equal distribution to both parties.

The court determines the division of property. Depending upon the length of the marriage a court will consider most debts or assets accumulated during the marriage are joint/marital property. In a very limited set of circumstances a court may consider debts or assets accumulated prior to the marriage are considered separate property. It is critical to understand what factors affect the court’s decision in this regard. Read further to find out more about how the division of property is determined in Massachusetts.

Determining the Value of Property

When filing for divorce, it is important to determine the value of all property and assets within the marriage. This can include a range of things from the house, vehicles, items in the house, small businesses etc. Typically it is best for the spouses to assign a value to their property, but the court or an expert witness can step in to assign a value when needed. Other professionals can be called in to determine value as well, such as an appraiser or other financial professionals.

The Division of Property

There are many ways the property and assets can be divided during a divorce. The parties can determine who will get what possessions and property, or the court can make that determination. Included in assets and property are also debts, which can make it difficult for the spouses to divvy things up. The court can then step in and determine the division of property based on several factors such as income, employment and skills, age, health, economic status, liabilities, needs, length of the marriage, who is caring for the children, the fault of divorce, and more. It is unlikely that if one spouse is considered at fault for the divorce, the court will side in favor in any significant way of the “innocent” spouse with respect to the allocation and division of debt and assets, but every case is unique.

In closing, if you are going through a divorce it is always best to be as civil as possible with your spouse when it comes to the dividing of property. The courts in Massachusetts do have methods and laws in place to make the best possible determination for the dividing of property, assets, and debts to the best of its ability. However, this may not have the best financial turnout for the parties involved. It is in your best interest to speak with an experienced family law attorney who deals in marital assets.

I Can’t Afford My Student Loan in MA

What to Do When You Cannot Pay Your Student Loan

Student loans are sometimes a necessary means of helping individuals obtain a college degree. And the hope is that once you have the degree, you can get the job to help pay back those student loans. However, college is expensive and depending on the amount of student loan debt you incurred, it could be difficult to pay off what you owe, even with a decent paying job. If you live in the state of Massachusetts and find yourself in a situation where you are struggling to pay off your student loans, there is an answer. You can consider discharging them through bankruptcy when you find that it will not be possible for you to pay off the debt on your own.I Cant Afford Paying Off My Student Loan

Filing for Bankruptcy

In order to file, and be approved for, bankruptcy in the state of Massachusetts you will need to prove that the continuation of your student loan debt and your inability to pay it off will result in undue hardship for you and your dependents. If you can prove that you are indeed in a financial hardship and are unable to pay off the remaining student loan debt, then all of your student loan debt will then be canceled. In order to file for bankruptcy based on student loan debt, you need to not only file for bankruptcy but also file a petition for adversary proceeding with a determination of undue financial hardship.

When determining whether or not your case falls under undue hardships, the courts in Massachusetts implement specific tests to make that determination. However, the most common test used in Massachusetts is the Brunner test. This test is designed to determine undue hardship based on three factors; you are unable to provide a minimal standard of living for yourself and your dependents based on your current income if you should have to continue paying your loans, other factors involved contribute to your standard of living while paying off the loans, and that you have made every effort to make payments on your loan despite your circumstances.

The Pros and Cons of Bankruptcy

While bankruptcy is certainly a viable option for those who struggle to pay off their student loans and maintain a fair standard of living, it is always best to seek the advice of a bankruptcy attorney before making that decision to file for bankruptcy. The benefit of filing for bankruptcy is that you will not be subject to being turned over to collections due to your inability to pay makes your payments. However, it is important to be aware that filing for bankruptcy is something that can stay on your credit report for up to ten years and can affect your ability to have good credit or obtain credit for some time.

If you are considering filing for bankruptcy as a way to free yourself from a difficult financial situation involving student loans, find a trustworthy attorney in Massachusetts that can walk you through the process and help you along the way.

Discharging Taxes in Bankruptcy in Massachusetts

Bankruptcy can be quite complicated. In a nutshell, bankruptcy is a process wherein those with debt problems can discharge such debt, meaning that it is forgiven and the debtor does not owe any money to the government.Discharge Taxes in Bankruptcy

Things can get a bit more complicated regarding bankruptcy in Massachusetts when considering what taxes can and cannot be discharged.

Generally, there are several kinds of taxes that can be discharged, including income taxes, property taxes, sales and use taxes, and excise taxes. Here is an overview of these taxes, whether they can be discharged, and the parameters of the discharges. First, there are two major types of bankruptcy discharges, Chapter 7 and Chapter 13.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, all debt is eliminated; the debtor is relieved of all debt responsibility. This gives debtors a “new beginning,” allowing them to wipe the slate clean. A typical candidate for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy has a large amount of credit card debt, few assets, and other unsecured bills, such as utility bills. The debtor may keep some secured debt, such as a house (secured by collateral—in this case, a mortgage), provided that they sign a voluntary “Reaffirmation Agreement,” and the debtor still owes that debt and must continue to pay it.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Chapter 13 bankruptcy is different. In this arrangement, the debtor must propose a repayment plan, usually three to five years, to creditors where they offer to pay off all or part of their debt.  Debtors use this arrangement to pay back debt such as missed mortgage payments, pay back taxes, and prevent interest from accruing on tax debt. The amount to be repaid is contingent on the debtor’s income. Basically, this type of bankruptcy is best for those who want to maintain their secured assets, including their homes and cars.

Taxes are dischargeable using Chapter 7 to completely wipe away the debt, or by using the “on time” method that Chapter 13 offers debtors.

Other Information You Need to Know

While sales and use tax, property tax, and excise taxes may be discharged, income tax the most common type of tax debt that people petition to discharge. They are not usually recent income taxes; they are often from returns due years before. There are several stipulations, including that the returns to be discharged are at least three years old. Also, the debtor must not have committed any willful tax evasion or fraud, must have actually filed the tax return for the year it was due, and they must pass the “240 day rule,” meaning that either the tax debt the debtor wants to discharge must have been assessed by the IRS at least 240 days before the bankruptcy was filed, or the tax return for the debt has not yet been assessed by the IRS.

Several debts cannot be discharged in Massachusetts. These include rent income tax debts with the past three years, fines and penalties for breaking the law, such as traffic tickets; most student loans, personal injury or DWI-related (driving while intoxicated) deaths, and family obligation-type debts, such as back child support.

Massachusetts Car Accident Injury Lawsuit FAQs

What is My Car Accident Case Worth?

Have you been injured in a car accident in the state of Massachusetts and want to know what your case is worth? The answer to your question isn’t as cut and dry as you might think. There are a variety of factors that will limit what you receive after you case has been settled. So if you have been injured you need to know your rights and what to expect while your case is being settled.

Determine Amount of Fault

The amount of compensation you will receive will depend on the amount of evidence against the other party, how severe your injuries are and just how much at fault they are. For instance, if the other driver rear-ends you while at a stop sign the other party will be 100% at fault. But if part of the accident was some fault of your own then your compensation may be limited.

Often times, personal injury cases will be determined on the amount of injuries, how disabling they are and if the injuries will significantly decrease your quality of life. If you have suffered extensive injuries due to someone’s negligent actions then the amount you receive will be higher than if you just situated minor cuts or bruises. Also, the amount of pain you are in will help determine just how much you will get when your case is over.

Keep Track of Losses

After a car accident, everything needs to be accounted for. Not just your injuries or the condition of your car can be brought up in a lawsuit. Lost wages can really add up, so make sure to keep track of the amount of days you were out of work. Also, anything that was damaged or destroyed in the accident can be part of the lawsuit including the clothes you were wearing at the time.

What You Do After Matters

Once an accident has occurred, the at-fault party’s insurance company will often rush to offer you compensation. But under no circumstances should you ever accept this offer, not even if it seems like a lot of money. Insurance companies know just how much your case could be worth so they try to get you to settle for less.

Speak To an Attorney First!

Before you sign anything from anyone you should seek legal counsel to find out just were your case stands. Many times, people wait until they are out of the hospital to find an injury lawyer. This could be detrimental to your case because time can equal money. The faster you get someone working on your case the faster it can settle. Due too many factors including the weather, evidence at the scene of your accident will begin to fade so acting fast is in your best interest.

Workers Compensation FAQ’s in Massachusetts

workers compensation laws massachusettsWhat Injuries Are Covered by Workers Compensation?

In Massachusetts any injury that occurs during the course and scope of your work is covered. You are eligible if the injury occurred at your employer’s premises. You may also be eligible if for workers comp if you were performing a job-related task elsewhere when you sustained injuries.

Some work injuries may be deemed as not severe enough to warrant a compensation claim. Small cuts and wounds are some of the injuries that may not be serious enough for compensation. In other words, if the injury can be treated through first aid it is usually deemed not serious enough.

How do I File Workers Compensation?

You can file a workers compensation claim in Massachusetts if you lost five days of wages due to injuries you sustained at work. You need to notify your employer of your injury within seven days after the fifth day of your lost wages. You can either notify your employer orally or in written form. Your employer is required to notify your insurance company thereafter. You should receive your first check 180 days after you sustained your injury.

What Benefits Can I Receive?

From the time the insurance company receives the notification from your employer, they’ll take time to determine if you are eligible for compensation. If your application is successful there are a number of benefits you could get.

  • Medical Benefits: This compensates the employee for the medical expenses incurred and covers treatment and rehabilitation.
  • Loss of Function and Disfigurement: This is a onetime payment that covers loss of function or disfigurement. The insurance company takes nine months before they can pay this benefit to monitor progress in order to ensure the benefits are warranted.
  • Temporary Total Incapacity: You’ll receive 60% of your average weekly earnings.
  • Permanent Total Incapacity: If you are incapable of working as a result of your illness you’ll receive two thirds of your average weekly earnings.
  • Survivor Benefits: If the employee dies as a result of his injuries, the dependents may be entitled to 66% of his weekly wages.

Are Mental Conditions Covered?

In Massachusetts mental conditions and emotional disabilities may be eligible for a workers compensation benefits. It may, however, be difficult to get benefits if you cannot show that your mental health problem started at your workplace or your workplace was a contributing factor.

Firefighters, paramedics, and policemen usually work in difficult and dangerous conditions that can have a significant impact on their mental health. An injury resulting from a fire or a gunshot may also cause emotional and psychological distress enough for the employee to develop a psychological issue. The compensation should cover physical injuries sustained, cost of therapy, and vocational rehabilitation where applicable.

What Can I Do If My Application is Denied?

You can appeal a workers compensation denial four years after you receive Notification of Denial from the insurance provider. You’ll have to go through several informal stages before the matter is brought to the review board. The first stage is conciliation which is a meeting between you and your employer or insurance provider. If the parties fail to come to an agreement the case will be pushed forward to the other stages which are conference, hearing and review board.

For more information on workers compensation laws in Massachusetts, Call 978-275-1919 or visit Massachusetts Workers Compensation Laws.

4 Ways to Protect Your Finances During a Divorce in NH

Divorce proceedings can be easy or complicated depending on the given situation. If you are going through a divorce in New Hampshire, it is important to learn what you need to do to secure your finances. One of the main disagreements during a divorce is finances so you want to take the appropriate measures to ensure your credit as well as assets are secure. Below are a few quick tips to help you with preparing your finances for divorce.

Gather Financial InformationNashua Divorce Lawyer

To begin, you will need to gather all information associated with your financial records. It is best to go back as far as five years to have information that can be used in your favor. These documents will include but not be limited to:  tax returns, benefits data, payroll stubs, bank statements, retirement account statements, property information and investment accounts. Take time to make copies of this information and keep the paperwork outside of the home. You can do this with a safe deposit box or hand it over to a family member for safe keeping. The evidence of financial information will help to speed up the divorce proceedings, and have accurate information to give the court.

Asset Inventory

As you gather your financial information, write down your assets. Items that would be considered separate property would include items you may have owned before the marriage or inheritances. Take photos of any items so you have a physical record.

Cut Back on Expenses

A divorce can get expensive, especially if you consider court costs as well as the division of funds between you and your soon-to-be ex. Cut back any way you can on expenses such as dining out or shopping. You will need money in the future to find an apartment or purchase a new home as well as for a vehicle or other expenses. Save now so you can easily take care of what you might need to in the future.

Credit Report Monitoring and Individual Bank Accounts

Two important steps that need to be considered are your credit score and bank accounts. Prior to filing a divorce, you should keep track of your credit score as well as open an individual bank account and credit card.  This will help to ensure that your paychecks are not spent on anything you do not authorize. Next, be sure to keep track of your credit report before and sometime after the divorce. When there is anger and hurt involved in a divorce, people can do things out of character. You may find that your soon to be ex-spouse makes a big purchase without your knowledge in your name or with funds in a joint account. Setting up your own account and checking your score can save you a lot of frustration in the future.

Overall, it is important to discuss your financial situation with an experienced New Hampshire attorney. An experienced divorce attorney in New Hampshire understands what decisions you need to make financially to ensure your credit is not affected in a negative manner. Consult with an attorney to find out exactly what you need to do for your individual divorce situation.

Latest Samsung Galaxy Phone Safety Recall – Massachusetts Injury Lawsuit Attorney

Samsung Galaxy Phone Safety Tips for Your Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Any Massachusetts resident who owns a Samsung Galaxy Note 7 should be aware of the recall that the company has placed on the device. The mobile phone has an issue within the battery of the device that can cause a fire and even explosion. This can lead to injury of the phone user as well as anyone nearby. Personal belongings can be at risk as well as the home where the phone is kept during charging. Samsung has alerted individuals who have the device that the mobile phone should be taken back, be it for an exchange or a refund.

Samsung Phone Fire Lawsuit
Taking Precautions with Your Phone

If you have a Samsung Galaxy Note 7, you must take great care to avoid injury. To do this, avoid charging the product. It is when the product is charging that fire can occur as well as an explosion. Do not use the device. Place the mobile phone, turned off, back into the box it was purchased in and return to the store. You can take the phone to your carrier or retailer in which the purchase was made and ask for a refund or exchange.

Samsung Recall

Samsung first began the recall within two weeks after the initial release due to the fact that 35 devices had caught fire or simply blown up. When these stories began coming in, Samsung decided to invoke a voluntary recall. Replacement devices were provided only to have the same explosive capabilities. After this was discovered, Samsung stopped production and will not be making any more of the devices. The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 cannot be sold, old or new in nature, and individuals are recommended to return the device straight away. Samsung has extended its recall to all Galaxy Note 7 devices.

Taking Legal Action Against Samsung

If you do own the mobile and were affected by a fire or even explosion, you may have a legal case against the tech company. This will depend on when the incident occurred and if you were aware of the recall. You may be owed damages due to any personal harm from the device or perhaps damage to personal belongings or your home. You may also be due compensation from the monthly cost to own the mobile device. A Massachusetts injury attorney will be able to you determine if you have a case and take the appropriate measures to ensure you can file a case and seek compensation if available. Provide all information you have to an attorney to see if you have a case against Samsung due to the device malfunctions.

The Next Steps as a Samsung Phone Owner

The best course of action for anyone who owns the device is to return the item to the retailer. Avoid charging the phone as it can lead to fire or an explosion. Personal belongings as well as the home can be damaged if the unit were to explode while being charged. Individuals can be harmed if the device is used while being charged as well which can lead to serious injury. Take precautions to not use the device and return as soon as possible to either receive a refund or exchange for a new mobile device.


Safe Driving Tips for the Labor Day Weekend in Massachusetts

Labor Day Safe Driving Tips

The Labor Day weekend is a great time of year, especially in Massachusetts. Although it signals the end of the summer for many, it is still warm and serves as a perfect opportunity to enjoy friends and family at barbeques and college football parties.  Many families take this time to enjoy their last getaways before school starts and to get in one last beach day. It is also a time to be acutely aware of the dangers on the road that are all-too prevalent during this national holiday.

Specifically, traffic on the roads skyrockets during Labor Day weekend. Many people travel near and far to enjoy the last glimpses of summer. And, with the nCar Accidentumber of motor vehicle collisions steadily on the rise across New England, it is particularly important to take extra precautions while driving during this long weekend.

While many of the following tips seem like common sense, it never hurts to be reminded of safe driving practices:

  1. Watch Out for Other Drivers, Bikers and Pedestrians: The best thing you can do in any driving situation is to be aware of your own driving AND the driving of those around you on the road. There is an astonishing increase in pedestrian-related motor vehicle accidents lately – mostly due to inattentive driving. Also, regardless of the time of day, but particularly in the evening, stay alert for intoxicated, distracted and otherwise impaired drivers. If you find yourself in the situation where you caused an accident or someone else caused an accident you were involved in, it is best to contact the police right away, and if necessary, seek the assistance of a reputable auto accident lawyer in Massachusetts.
  1. HAVE A DESIGNATED DRIVER, AND IF YOU ARE GOING TO DRIVE -STAY SOBER!!!: This seems like an absolute no-brainer, but it is flabbergasting how often this basic rule is ignored. It really is an easy rule to follow: DON’T DO IT!!! Even the slightest intoxication can lead to disastrous results: injuring or killing yourself or others; not to mention the legal ramifications of getting arrested for DUI. If you think you shouldn’t drive, you shouldn’t. Leave your car where it is, get a ride home from a friend, call a cab or request an Uber. If you or a family member gets arrested for DUI, it is critical to seek the assistance of a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
  1. Avoid the Roads in the Evening and at Night: Evenings and late nights are when many parties wind down and when families head home from the beach. This means that there is an increased number of vehicles on the road and therefore a greater chance of some sort of accident occurring along your way. Not to mention that driving in the dark always makes conditions more dangerous. You also should not forget that there is a significant increase in law enforcement patrolling the roads during these times.
  1. Watch for Kids: While most college kids have headed back to school by Labor Day, there are many high schoolers out on the roads during this special weekend – and they may hit up a party or two. Talk to your kids about the importance of safe driving habits and that there will be cops everywhere – so they shouldn’t risk doing anything stupid! Also, the Sunday during Labor Day weekend is when the major college football season starts. Football season = beer, so be particularly aware of this, especially in college towns.

Hopefully these tips will help you have a happy and safe Labor Day weekend! Enjoy your friends and family!

Massachusetts Laws about Drone Surveillance for Divorce Purposes

Drones have become so widely used today since their beginnings in 2009.  They are used for a number of functions, both commercial andDrone Surveillance Laws Massachusetts private.  They are no longer just for leisure, as when they are flown over an open field or high-ceiling area.  They are quite convenient for delivering packages during the day when no one is available to receive them.  They are used to spy on terrorist and criminal activities and are thus indispensable in criminal law enforcement.

People have discovered yet another useful function of drones – for surveillance of spouses and other family members.  A person can either hire a drone operator or manipulate the drone by himself to gather videos and photos of the erring spouse in order to present to divorce court.

But while this high-tech method is ideal, is it really legal?  Many states have not actually formulated solid laws that define whether interspousal spying is actually acceptable as evidence in divorce courts, or is even legal to begin with.

Some may argue that such form of surveillance is an invasion of privacy.  But there’s a premise is that since the surveillance work was done within one’s own home, can it really be considered an invasion of privacy?

Here are some clarifications about drone use for surveillance of spouses and marital torts. 

Recently, marital torts have gained ground and have been allowed in courts as recognition of women’s civil rights.  This is especially significant if the spouses are in the process of filing divorce, as marital torts can determine custody and alimony decisions.  Thus it is not surprising that a spouse is highly motivated to take videos or photos that could prove a marital tort.

While most states do not really have any laws specifically for drone use in surveillance, some do have laws about the action of surveillance itself, regardless of the gadget used.

The state of Massachusetts in particular has specific statutes against surreptitious video surveillance, especially for voyeurism.  That is, you could be liable for conviction if you or a drone under your control has taken a video featuring uncovered intimate parts of the subject’s body.  Secondly, the video must have also been taken in a place where the subject had reasonably expected privacy, such as his/her own bedroom or bathroom.

If you are a resident of Massachusetts and currently undergoing divorce procedures, do know the limitations about using drones for monitoring either you or your spouse.  It may be tempting to attempt to take videos and recordings in order to strengthen your case against your spouse and to have the edge on custody and alimony, but you must also be aware of the personal rights issue.

Regardless of which side of the camera you’re on, be well-informed about the current laws on drone surveillance and how it can actually affect the outcome of your divorce case.  Better yet, consult a Massachusetts lawyer about the legality of this action.

Conversely, if you are the wronged party (subject of the video), do know your rights and consult a competent Massachusetts family lawyer as to how you can file a complaint against your spying spouse.

By Todd Beauregard

DUI Sobriety Checkpoints Throughout Massachusetts on New Year’s Eve

Lowell DUI-OUI Lawyers in MA | Massachusetts DWI Attorneys

Getting into legal trouble can be a daunting experience. Not only do you have fines and penalties to follow through with, you also have to deal with penal issues that are far above your head. That is why defense lawyers work hard to help you get out of a pickle. This is especially true for people of DUI and DWI charges. (more…)