Legal Blog

As you may know, there is a new trial courthouse in Taunton and this newsletter will provide you with some helpful information about the courthouse.

The Elevator

The first thing that regulars at Taunton Court know is to avoid the elevator unless it is an emergency. There have been almost daily problems with the elevator, including people being stuck in it for long periods of time.

Tagged in: Taunton , MA , Courthouse

The short answer to this question is No. There has been a lot of talk back and forth about having changes to provide more consumer relief after the economic devastation to the working and middle class people, but so for in the Obama administration there has not been any actual changes at this point.  There is a great deal of law being on the behalf of banks and credit card companies over the consumers, but as of this point there is no change under the law.

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           In a Chapter 7 a Bankruptcy Discharge basically releases the debtor from personal liability for a certain type of debt.  What that basically means is that the debtor is no longer required to pay any debt that is discharged.  The discharge is permanent and is prohibited to the creditors, whom taking any form of collection on the debt; including, legal actions, phone calls and so forth.


           Liens are important to discharge prior to the bankruptcy, because if you don’t, if it has not been avoided or made unenforceable, it can in fact remain after the bankruptcy case and the secure creditor can force the recovery of some of the property.

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Here is helpful information on our Housing Court System:



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            The Taunton Trial Court recently opened and it includes several different courts including, Taunton Juvenile Court, Taunton District Court, the Housing Court and a branch of the Bristol Probate and Family Court.  Here are some of the contact information:


Taunton District Court

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The new, Massachusetts alimony law was signed by Governor Patrick on October 4, 2011 after winning approval in both the House and Senate. The changes establish guidelines for alimony payments and include limits on the duration of the payments. The new law essentially will eliminate lifetime alimony in many cases and will in part be determined by the length of the marriage.

The new law is a significant departure from current alimony practice and will have a dramatic impact on both parties to a divorce.
Some highlights of the new law include:

•    Indefinite alimony can still be awarded for long term marriages, defined as lasting twenty years or more.
•    Alimony for long term marriages will end when the payer’s spouse reaches retirement age, as defined by the Social Security Act.
•    For short term marriages lasting less than five years, alimony may not last longer than half of the number of months of the marriage.
•    With short term marriages judges can order “reimbursement alimony” if one party had put the other through school or job training.
•    For intermediate term marriages, defined as lasting longer than five years, but less than ten years, the maximum alimony term is 60% of the months of marriage.
•    For intermediate term marriages of more than ten years, but less than fifteen years, the maximum alimony term is 70% of the number of months of marriage.
•    For intermediate term marriages which are more than fifteen years, but last less than twenty years, the maximum alimony term is 80% of the duration of the marriage.
•    If the payer has remarried, the new spouse’s income and assets will be excluded from alimony determination and modification actions.
•    Cohabitation suspends, reduces, or even terminates alimony when it can be shown that the person who is receiving alimony has maintained a common house or has lived with another person for at least three months.
•    Child support payments will be factored into alimony and ---- (THIS IS CONFUSING!)
•    Alimony will be limited and should generally not exceed the needs of  the person receiving it, or 30% - 35% of the recipient’s (?) gross income, established at the time of the order.
•    A second income or income from overtime work will not be included when considering alimony modification and would be presumed to be immaterial to the alimony if the part worked more than a single full time equivalent and the second job or overtime commenced after the entry of the initial order.
•    Health and/or life insurance premium payments reduce alimony.
•    Alimony extensions will be limited.
•    Alimony will end at the remarriage of the recipient.

           A question I do get asked a reasonable amount of time, is can children be emancipated in Massachusetts?  What emancipation means is that the parents right to control his or her minor child or participate in that decision making and that the parents no longer have the right to determine where the child lives or goes to school or how to spend that child’s money.


           The parents would be relieved of certain responsibilities. Some of those might be not paying child support or responsible for the harm that the personal injuries that the child causes to another person, and no longer for being sued.  However, in Massachusetts there is NO formal procedure for a child to become emancipated from his/her parents. 

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            What is an Annulment? An Annulment undoes a marriage by treating the couple as if a marriage did not even occurred. What that means, is that the party was not legally able to enter a party because that some reason that marriage would be considered void from the very beginning.


            For example, some of the reasons might be fraud, if the party was already married.  Annulments are generally not something that is granted easily by the court and the facts clearly have to show that the marriage was invalid.  If the marriage is void or nulled, the parties are not required to file for an Annulment, but to be on the safe side it’s highly recommended that you do. 

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              You need to get a copy of your Divorce Decree; you can do that by mail.  The fee has been $20.00 for a certified copy, plus $1.00 per page for every page except for the first.  You do need to contact the Probate Court County where the divorce was filed, so for example, it would be the Taunton Probate Court or the Brockton, Plymouth Probate Court. 

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            There is an explanation and it might be a little bit antiquated, but basically the final divorce does not occur on that date. If the Judge find the facts support the true breakdown of the marriage and approves that agreement; that Order would be entered right away.  Thirty (30) days after the Order is entered, usually that is the date of the Hearing, and a Judgment of Divorce Nisi is issued.  However, that Judgment of Divorce Nisi becomes an absolute Judgment of Divorce after ninety (90) days. 


            So if you seek a divorce with a Joint Petition, it is not final for at least 120 days.  However, there is another part with the Massachusetts divorce, if they entered a Judgment Nisi, it becomes 90 days from the entry unless the court so orders, but that generally is harder to get a court date to occur you have to have a longer waiting period to get a court date.  So essentially it is either 90 or 120 days after the Agreement is approved before the divorce is absolute.  The Judgment Absolute actually terminates the marital relationship.

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