What Is Reckless Endangerment of a Child under Massachusetts Law?

Posted by Attorney Bruce Watson

When applied to children, it’s putting a child in grave danger due to negligence of a particular act. In the state of Massachusetts, it usually works under two different legal scenarios. The first is the act of creating the risk, and the second is not doing anything to prevent that risk.

Creating Substantial Risk
The first half of the Massachusetts reckless endangerment law needs to be proven in court before any injury claims may be made. Evidence needs to prove that the person who created the substantial risk to a child under 18 did it in a way that caused severe bodily injury. Those injuries could be from driving recklessly in a vehicle to sexual abuse.

Failing to Alleviate a Substantial Risk
The second half of the law needs proven evidence that the person causing the reckless endangerment didn’t do anything to prevent it from happening in the first place. This can sometimes fall under the scenario of someone responsible for the child’s welfare failing to take precautions to keep a child out of danger. It could be a nanny or even a parent who had a specific legal duty to make sure the child was safe, yet didn’t take the initiative. This negligence has caused severe bodily injury to a child.

If you have questions about reckless endangerment or believe a child may be a victim of reckless endangerment you should contact an experienced Massachusetts family law attorney immediately.

How does the court divide property in a divorce in Massachusetts?

Posted by Attorney Bruce Watson

The Massachusetts Probate & Family Court is required to consider so-called “Section 34” factors in fixing the nature and value of the property in determining the division of that property between the parties. Those factors are spelled out in Section 34 of Chapter 208 of the General Laws. The pertinent part of that section reads as follows:

“In fixing the nature and value of the property, if any, to be so assigned, the court, after hearing the witnesses, if any, of each of the parties, shall consider the length of the marriage, the conduct of the parties during the marriage, the age, health, station, occupation, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, estate, liabilities and needs of each of the parties, the opportunity of each for future acquisition of capital assets and income, and the amount and duration of alimony, if any, awarded under sections 48 to 55, inclusive. In fixing the nature and value of the property to be so assigned, the court shall also consider the present and future needs of the dependent children of the marriage. The court may also consider the contribution of each of the parties in the acquisition, preservation or appreciation in value of their respective estates and the contribution of each of the parties as a homemaker to the family unit.”

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We are getting divorced, and he did not disclose all assets.

Additional Information:

We are in the process of getting a divorce.  My soon to be ex-husband has hidden assets that he did not disclose.  I came across the bank statements, so I have the account #s and know the exact amount.  He works with a local developer in Rockland, so his income fluctuates based on what they build and sell, I had no idea he was depositing some of his income in an account separate from our joint account.  What happens now?

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

Your husband’s deliberate omission of this account from financial statements filed  with the court, documents produced to you or your attorney and from his answers to interrogatories amounts to a fraud on the court and will effectively destroy his credibility with the Court. You can force him to correct the Financial Statements he has filed with the Court.  If he violated a particular court order by omitting this important information, you can file a complaint for contempt, which should result in his paying your legal fees, at least for the contempt.  If you have already signed a Divorce Agreement, you should formally revoke your approval at once, and if the provisional Decree nisi has already issued, you can and should challenge the decree regarding the division of property as it was based on your husband’s fraudulent representations. [Read more…]

What is the cost to file divorce in Massachusetts?

There is a fee to file a divorce, and to get a summons. As of July 1, 2009, the filing fee is $200.00, plus a $15.00 surcharge, and a summons costs $5.00. Notifying your spouse, called service of process, can cost around $30.00 or more if he or she lives far away.

Greater Boston divorce attorney Bruce Watson represents individuals in Milton and the surrounding South Shore towns including Braintree, Dedham, Norwood and Quincy.

What are Grounds for an Annulement in Massachusetts?

Annulments “undo” a marriage by treating the couple as if no marriage had ever occurred. If one party was not legally able to enter a marriage because, for example, they were already married to someone else, the marriage is “void” from the beginning. If there is some other reason why the marriage should not be recognized, such as fraud, then the marriage is “voidable.” Annulments are rarely granted by the courts and should only be sought when the facts clearly show that the marriage is invalid.

Massachusetts divorce attorney Bruce Watson represents individuals in Milton and the surrounding South Shore towns including Braintree, Dedham, Norwood and Quincy.

Can an order for child support be modified without going to court?

Additional Information:

My ex husband and I have agreed to higher support payments as the after school program for our children in the Greater Boston area has increased so we have drawn up a new agreement which we both signed. Is what we did legally binding or do we need to an attorney to draft something for us?

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

A Child Support order cannot be modified legally without going to court.  You and your ex-husband may agree on higher payments, but if he falls behind, you cannot enforce the written agreement unless it has been entered as a valid Court Order or Judgment. In other words, that signed written agreement is not worth the paper it’s printed on unless a Judge approves it! While you can go to court yourself (you will need to file the Agreement at the Clerk’s office, file a written Complaint For Modification or Motion For Further Temporary Orders, obtain a hearing date, and both attend that hearing), I recommend retaining an experienced Family Law attorney. This is a routine proceeding for those of use experienced in this type of law, will not require an expensive legal fee, and the documents will legally sufficient to enforce the new agreement between you and him.  Please call my office.  I’ll be happy to speak with you about your situation and if you wish schedule a free in-person consultation.  [Read more…]

How is alimony determined in Massachusetts?

Additional Information:

I am getting a divorce. My husband makes more money than I do, will I be eligible for alimony and how is it determined in Massachusetts?  Is the duration based on the number of years we were married or another factor?

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

As you may have read in the Boston newspapers or heard about from television or internet news sources, the Massachusetts Legislature passed, and the Governor signed, an Alimony Reform law that becomes effective March 1, 2012. Under the new law, the duration of alimony depends upon the length of the marriage. For example, in marriages lasting five years or less, divorce alimony is to continue no longer than half the length of the marriage; in marriages six to 10 years long, alimony is capped at 60 percent of the length of the marriage; if the duration of marriage is 15 years or less, but more than 10 years, general term alimony shall be no greater than 70 per cent of the length of the marriage; if the duration of marriage is 20 years or less, but more than 15 years, general term alimony shall be no greater than 80 per cent of the number of months of the marriage; and the court shall have discretion to order alimony for an indefinite length of time for marriages longer than 20 years.  For divorces in which alimony has already been ordered, there is a schedule will be established by which parties to the alimony agreement may appeal for adjustment.  [Read more…]

Can a divorce agreement be modified?

Additional Information:

My ex-husband and I have been divorced for 4 years.   The kids and I recently moved into a smaller house in Milton, to help with expenses, but I am  not earning as much as I was and the kids are involved in more sports and activities, so I’d like to ask my ex husband for more support.  Can the provisions of a divorce be changed after finalization?   What is the process and is it difficult?

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

Divorce Agreements usually contain provisions specifying whether the agreement “merges” or “survives.”  If all provisions survive, the terms of the agreement CANNOT be changes. If the terms regarding the children of the marriage merge (which is a typical term), those terms — custody, visitation, support, uninsured medical expenses, extra-curricular school expenses, high education expenses, and so on — can be changed by the Court through a Complaint for Modification. There must be a change in circumstances to justify the change.  Even those divorce decrees that resulted from a trial on the merits may be changed if a material change in circumstances can be shown.  Bring your divorce decree and any Divorce Agreement with you to your attorney’s office and ask that the provisions be explained to you. Bring any evidence you have of a material change in circumstances, especially concerning a drop in income because of the poor economy we currently confront.

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Do I have any rights to my husband’s house in Braintree, Mass?

Additional Information:

When we got married, I moved into my husband’s house in Braintree, Massachusetts. We are now getting divorced and I want to keep the house. Do I have any rights to it?

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

You may have a right to a certain amount of the equity in the house, depending on a number of factors. For example, how long have you been married? How long did your husband own the house before you moved in? Did you share mortgage expenses? Did you contribute to the marriage in other ways, as in being an at-home parent for young children? Furthermore (given the poor residential real estate market), is there any equity in the marital home for the two of you to share?  You should be prepared to furnish answers to these and other questions when you meet with your attorney, and counsel may be able to negotiate your buy-out of your husband’s interest.

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Do we both need to be present to file papers for divorce in MA?

Additional Information:

Do a husband and wife both have to be present to file a joint petition for an uncontested divorce in Massachusetts?  Do we have to go together or can we go separately?

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

You ask if both of you need to be present to “file”, and I have two answers. First, either one of you or your counsel can file all necessary documents with the clerk’s office and obtain a hearing date. However, on that date, you both must appear before the Court, be sworn and answer questions about the statements you made establishing the breakdown of the marriage. The only exception to both parties appearing at the hearing occurs when one party lives out of state or is otherwise unavailable. The Court will accept an Affidavit of Informed Non-Appearance from the unavailable party. I have represented clients in divorce hearings where their spouses lived in England and China, among other places. All documents for the divorce must be properly executed and notarized, as may be, for the hearing to proceed successfully. Bring all contact information you have to your attorney if your spouse lives far away or is otherwise unavailable.

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