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December 2012 Archives

Massachusetts Restraining Orders Updated to Include Pets & Animal Possession

Issues between couples over ownership and possession of their pets can often be an extremely emotional and contested aspect of a domestic dispute. Until this past summer, Courts seldom addressed where "Fido" should go within District Court and Probate Court Retraining & Harassment Orders. As lawyers, we are aware that Courts typically treat pets as they would any other personal property. This past summer, legislation was amended which provided Courts with the authority to enter orders granting "possession, care or control over a domesticated the plaintiff or petitioner in such proceedings." Here is a link to the Trial Court's Memo on the new amendments. Interestingly, the act makes no mention of the Court's ability to order possession to the "defendant" in such proceedings. This would seem to imply that the Act does not intend to create a new forum where litigants may argue over possession of their pet. Massachusetts appears to have recognized that pets are no longer merely items of personal property, at least in proceedings involving Retraining/Harassment type orders. (...and yes, that is my dog, Buster.)

Massachusetts Divorce: Pensions

In Massachusetts Divorces, where either spouse has a pension or retirement plan, the marital share of those assets are routinely divided in accordance with the principals of equitable division of property as set forth within Massachusetts General Laws. ch. 208 s 34. Generally, Courts consider the marital share as that amount of an asset which was acquired during the course of the marriage. Further, that share can also be calculated by an increase or accrual of value during the marriage of an asset owned prior to the marriage. In most cases and once an agreement over the division has been reached,experienced divorce attorneys will retain an actuary or some other professional to draft QDRO's (qualified domestic relations orders) or DRO's (domestic relations orders) to effect the division of such plans. The type of order needed depends on the exact type of pension or retirement plan. Careful attention needs to be placed on the type of pension or retirement plan. For example, there are defined benefit plans which may include federal, state, military and municipal pensions. Also, there are contributory retirement accounts such as a Roth or Traditional IRA, 401K, 457 and 403B accounts. Each of these plans and accounts require careful analysis of possible federal and state tax implications as well as an assessment of the actual benefit to which one may be entitled.

Facebook "Outs" Father Who Claims He Can't Afford Child Support.

Here is an interesting article. Father apparently has petitioned the Probate Court to reduce his child support citing he can't afford to pay. The Court was shown his Facebook page where he was shown flaunting cash and travel. Another interesting case where social media plays a big role. Check out the story here

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Roncone Law Offices, P.C.

142 Main Street
Leominster, MA 01453

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