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Worcester Family Law Blog

Jogger suffers fatal personal injury in hit-and-run

Many people jog as a regular form of exercise. While getting a good workout, joggers can also enjoy their surroundings, as the sport can happen just about anywhere: on city streets, designated trails or country roads. However, joggers whose routes take them through urban areas need to be extra cautious, as they are usually sharing space with motor vehicles. Unfortunately, a Massachusetts jogger suffered fatal personal injuryin a hit-and-run accident in Sutton.

According to police, a woman found the 51-year-old man dead on her front lawn early on a recent Wednesday morning. Security cameras at a neighbor's home reveal a person running toward the scene of the accident more than an hour earlier, as well as several vehicles. Witnesses have said they found plastic and debris, including a sock, littering the surrounding area.  Authorities have said they are searching for a white SUV with a damaged passenger side.

Co-parenting involves sharing parenting time equitably

As any divorced person knows, the process leading up to the granting of the final divorce decree, although necessary, is often fraught with challenges. Divorcing Massachusetts residents who are parents also understand that, during the separation period and following divorce, parenting time becomes precious. Often, divorcing parents choose to co-parent their child or children and manage to create an amicable arrangement that can allow children to thrive in a stable environment rather than suffer the negative effects of their parents' decision. Parents who have chosen this route can benefit from a few co-parenting rules.

Firstly, each parent should maintain an environment of positivity with regard to the other parent, even if this is very difficult to do. If a child hears bad things from one parent about the other, he or she may internalize the information, which can result in alienation. Co-parenting moms and dads should also work together to negotiate consistent methods of discipline in each home. Children who are exposed to inconsistencies between households may become confused, sometimes leading to problem behaviors. As well, parents are smart to maintain consistent routines in each household.

Making decisions about marital property can be difficult

A house is one of the largest, and perhaps most emotionally loaded, purchases a married couple will make together. At a number of points during the divorce process, the two people parting ways will need to make financial decisions, often including the division of a significant property such as the family home. Divorcing Massachusetts residents who have decided they would like to stay in the marital home are advised to work through a few steps before they decide if this choice is appropriate for them, and if it is, to properly make the transfer to sole ownership.

Divorcing people may decide staying in the house is best for them for various reasons: minimizing disruption for children, a sense of pride or perhaps simply a love for the house. In any case, individuals pursuing this avenue should first determine the cost of a buyout. The two parties must agree on a purchase price for the home, and to do so, they will first need to calculate the total amount of equity they share in the property. They can begin by first agreeing on the current value of the property, and then subtracting what they owe. Couples should know that the purchase price for one spouse may not be exactly half of this amount, as other factors may affect it.

In case of divorce, business owners should consider a prenup

Most Massachusetts couples ending their marriage must endure the process of dividing marital assets, and these typically include property, bank accounts, vehicles, etc. However, some people also have a business to consider during divorce negotiations, which can provide extra challenges. If one or both parties started a business prior to the marriage, they are wise to craft a prenuptial agreement in the event the union dissolves. Without such a document, the business will likely be deemed marital property, and in that case, the court will decide how it is distributed -- unless, of course, the parties can come to an agreement between themselves.

Experts recommend several factors to include in a prenup that will help a business owner protect his or her business in the case of divorce. For one, a business owner should determine the value of the business up to the point of marriage, so that this portion will not fall into the category of marital property during a divorce. Also, individuals need to decide how much, if any, their spouse will share in the profits and losses of the business following the date of marriage. Several points should be considered, including how much, directly or indirectly, the nontitled spouse will be contributing to the business, and whether he or she has invested capital in the company.

Pedestrian in crosswalk hit and suffers fatal personal injury

All drivers have the potential to become involved in an accident at some point while they are out and about in their vehicles, whether through their own fault or someone else. However, while some drivers' immediate reaction would be to stop and render aid or at least to contact emergency services, others may respond by fleeing the scene. Recently, a Massachusetts driver who hit a pedestrian and caused a fatal personal injury provided an example of the latter.

The horrific incident happened on a Saturday evening. The 64-year-old male driver hit the pedestrian while, reportedly, she was in a crosswalk. The 52-year-old victim was transported to a Boston hospital where she was later pronounced dead. A witness has said he heard a loud noise, and when he turned around he saw the driver stop his vehicle for a few seconds and put his head in his hands before continuing along the road.

Protecting independent assets in the event of divorce

Many Massachusetts couples likely maintain separate bank accounts with the assumption that in the event their marriage ends, each person can walk away with his or her own money. According to researchers, the percentage of married couples opting to keep their finances separate has more than doubled in recent years. However, experts warn that married people who assume that this practice will protect their assets in the event of divorce may encounter an unwelcome surprise if they actually find themselves in the position of dissolving their union.

States have different laws regarding distribution of assets. While some are community property states, most states (including Massachusetts) operate under equitable distribution laws. This means that, typically, any assets acquired during marriage are considered marital property and will be divided fairly, although not necessarily equally.

Divorce often calls for change to retirement plan

Aside from suffering emotionally, many Massachusetts couples who are ending their legal union will also experience a difference in their financial status, as one household becomes two. In addition to having only one income to support themselves on a daily basis, many people find that divorce has significantly affected their retirement savings plan. However, to help ease the process of achieving financial independence, divorcing couples can benefit from the following advice.

In some cases, each party in a divorcing couple will have about the same value in retirement savings, and in this situation, they may decide to simply go their separate ways with their own personal accounts. However, in many cases, one person will have more savings than the other. The individual with less money saved may negotiate for a portion of the ex-spouse's savings, although he or she can claim only savings accrued during the marriage. To legally transfer retirement assets from one party to the other, the person transferring will likely need a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO). One person may also be able to claim some of the ex-spouse's pension.

Pay careful attention to credit during a divorce

Married people who have decided to go their separate ways often experience some distress during the ensuing legal process over the loss of control of many aspects of their life. Typically, people going through a divorce must negotiate living arrangements, child custody and visitation schedules, financial obligations and, in some cases, much more. However, divorcing Massachusetts couples can take specific action in some areas of their lives to increase the chances of a positive outcome, and one of these areas is credit and how it is affected during and following the divorce.

First, early on in the process, divorcing individuals should access a complete credit report, which they can purchase from one of several credit bureaus, or at no cost once a year. As part of the required process of gathering financial information, a divorcing person should note anything that would appear on a credit report, including credit cards, home loans, lines of credit, etc. Second, each party must clearly understand who is responsible for each debt. The divorcing couple should ensure that they continue to pay debts in a timely manner. Unless one party is legally released, both will be held responsible to pay any debts accrued during the marriage.

Speeding vehicle results in fatal personal injury for woman

It's a scene played out in Massachusetts and all over the country, likely on any given day. A group of young people are out for an evening of good times that sometimes involves a thrill-inducing drive through city streets. This may have been what was happening on a Boston street when a horrific car crash resulted in fatal personal injury for one woman and serious injury for another woman.

The incident happened early in May on an East Boston street. The 22-year-old man arrested in connection with the crash recently returned to district court for the first time since the accident. According to prosecutors, the man had been driving at a high rate of speed in the very early hours of a Sunday morning when his vehicle hit several parked cars, then the center median and ended upside down.

Spousal support negotiations during divorce can be challenging

Any Massachusetts couple in the midst of legally ending their marriage would likely agree that all aspects of the process are unpleasant, at best. However, for many divorcing couples, spousal support (also called alimony) tends to be one of the more challenging steps in the divorce process. Therefore, to assist divorcing individuals in successfully negotiating this type of support, industry experts offer some tips.

When calculating spousal support, courts consider various factors, but typically, the payer's ability to provide support and the payee's need for support are very important considerations. They may also look at factors such as the length of the marriage, division of property in the divorce and standard of living established during the marriage, among others. Although many alimony arrangements involve the payer providing the payee with a regular monthly payment, some divorcing couples may consider alternative payment structures, such as an alimony buyout, in which the payer provides alimony in one lump-sum payment or by transfer of certain assets.

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