Friday, July 24, 2015

Essential Question's to Ask Before Choosing your Counsel

Be sure to ask these questions before choosing who is going to represent you in your family law matter!
1. What is the hourly fee for the attorney?
2. Who is his paralegal? What is his/her hourly fee?
3. To reduce costs, please handle by electronic mail rather than paying for copies and postage.
4. What does the attorney know of   opposing legal counsel?
5. Because nothing has been filed, can he do so in his county or do you have to be a resident of that county?
6. If filed in opposing parties county, what should you expect for travel charges?
7. What is the attorney’s working relationship with the Judges? May the attorney pick the judge?
8. Is there any court ordered classes/mediation that will be required? If so, what is the process for handling that out of state? Fees? Where can you get more information?
9. What steps does the attorney recommend that you do prior to filing to give you the best chances of having a fair and amicable resolution?
10. Is it possible to have the fees for a contested divorce agreed to up front and included in the fee agreement? i.e. option A as already outlined and Option B. etc. rather than putting down another retainer.
11. Would it be better for you to file when you have established a permanent residence and secured employment?
12. Should you be filing in the State that you reside in?
13. If the divorce is contested, what can you expect for the discovery phase? Interrogatories, Depositions? Costs? Time?


Friday, July 17, 2015

My New Role with SPaN

I am happy to announce that recently I have become a member of SPaNs board. I am fulfilling the role of Vice President of Programming for the organization. SPaN is the Special Needs Advocacy Network, which helps families advocate for their child with special needs. As a person who has a disability I grew up going through this process. I am very excited to be a member of this organization and am looking forward to help coordinate events in hopes of educating families who need guidance for their child.

Check out their site:

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Special Education Advocacy Network Events in the month of May

 During the month of May I worked as a Special Education Advocate by educating parents and professionals on various topics associated with special needs. The first training kicked off in Cohasset, which focused on “Creating A Vision”. This workshop is to help parents develop future goals for their children through their children’s lens. No vision is too big! We emphasized that the parents should, no matter how extreme or unrealistic it may seem, let their child pick the vision. It may not always be realistic, but it is essential to try to best accommodate the children with their own unique vision. Maybe they want to be a pilot, but they are visually impaired, it is still possible to find them a position that may still work in the aviation field that will still give them the opportunity to be as close as possible to their vision.

            The second workshop was based on “Student Discipline” in Arlington. This workshop was based off of schools regulations and knowing your child’s rights in their program.  As parents, you should always read the school handbook! This is the best place to start and it is often overlooked. Many times the handbook can be found as a PDF on the schools website, but typically it is also sent home with the child at the beginning of the school year. This training went into depth about the types of punishments the schools implement and the rights of the parent in this situation. We also went into detail about how important it is to let the teachers or the staff associated with your children know about your child’s IEP and circumstance. This is the best possible solution for your child success in the school.

            The third presentation was a “Basic Rights” workshop. This took place in Everett and was a bit different than the other workshops we have been apart of. This workshop included a Spanish/Portuguese interpreter. This workshop is to let the parent know their basic rights when it comes to their child and their disability. It mainly focuses on the IEP or 504 Plan associated with your child’s disability.

            It has been incredible to be able to be apart of something that I am very familiar with being someone who went through this process as a child and now being able to teach it to others.  Sometimes parents don’t even know where to begin, but with these various trainings that SPAN has created it makes the process that much easier.

For more on this topic and for more information on the trainings please visit SPANs website below: SPANs Website

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

What are CRA'S?!

CRA's - Children in Need of Assistance.

There are five categories of children in need of assistance.

1.) Run away=  repeatedly runs away from the home of his or her parents or legal guardian
2. )Stubborn child
= repeatedly disobeying reasonable and lawful commands such that parent is not able to care for the child
3.) School offender=
Failure to obey reasonable and lawful school rules
4.) Truant.
Fails to attend school 8 days or more in one quarter without proper documentation
5.) Sexually victimized child

Each category has its own definitional requirements. For example, in order to be designated a runaway, the child must run away repeatedly. If a child qualifies as a truant, they must miss 8 days of school. In all cases the child along with the service provider and the court seek to reduce conflict in the child's life. Included below is the CRA pamphlet given out by the probation officers to the parent at court.

Click Here: CRA Pamphlet

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Federation Conference

Join me Saturday at the Annual Visions of Community Conference. The keynote speakers include Dr. Joe Petner and Dr. Bill Henderson, both former principals and influential members in education community. Also, Dan Heffernan of Kotin, Crabtree & Strong, LLP  will be presenting the annual BSEA update. Looking forward to a great conference.

Monday, January 5, 2015

New Domestic Violence Legislation

New Domestic Violence Legislation (Signed August 8, 2014 by Deval Patrick)

The new domestic violence statute has made monumental changes in response to the Jared Remy case (Remy Details), which was a tragic occurrence for all in Boston. Largely in response to the issue of marriage or a substantial dating relationship being the only conditions that fell within M.G.L. Ch. 209A; the new statute allows for protection in all domains, even if the parties are not involved in a substantial dating relationship. The span of this new law does not only cover relationships, but it also reaches out to roommates. In conjunction with the changes of who is protected under the new legislation, changes have also been made in the responsibly of employers and law enforcement.

In accordance with the new changes in domestic violence legislation, employers with a staff of fifty or more must notify their employees of their rights granted under the new provisions. Employers are to notify their employees of their new rights under the law and are to uphold the law under the supervision of the Attorney General. Employees who are victims in a domestic dispute are granted fifteen days of leave in a calendar year, which may be paid or unpaid and left to the discretion of the employer. The leave may only be used in response to the domestic dispute and the employee will be subject to present proper documentation of the incident to their employer and a notice of time prior to the date. All documentation and information between the employee and employer must be kept confidential. The documentation can include any court paperwork or copy of a police report. The fifteen days of leave may be used for medical attention, court dates, seeking counsel, therapy, or victim services. Under this new rule perpetrators are not covered or able to take advantage of the benefits offered.

Employers Against Domestic Violence
Under the new domestic violence law an arrest must be made and now the perpetrator must be held for a minimum of six hours, unless a court deems earlier bail necessary. All police reports are to be held confidential.  Police will now be required to partake in domestic violence training, which was a serious issue in the past. Added training and funding will now allow all responders to be properly trained in assessing Domestic Abuse. Police will now be able to participate in a state wide and local domestic violence team that will specialize in assessing, preventing, and keeping statistical data on domestic abuse. In response to these changes, the police will be held accountable by means of tracking statistical data. These changes will ensure safety and be used as building blocks going forward.

Steps of 209A

1.      Event of domestic abuse.
2. File at Police Station or Court for Emergency 209A order.

3.      Next business day appear in court for ex parte- One-sided restraining order.

4.      10-Day Court Hearing- Both parties able to attend. Reasonable apprehension of imminent physical harm. The perpetrator is able to dispute the terms and get the restraining order waived if the court deems it necessary.

5.      Must renew restraining order yearly. But in specific circumstances the Restraining Order can be extended permanently.

 Domestic Violence Programs

Written by: Patrick Gilbride

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Vaida v. Vaida

November Case Summary

Vaida v. Vaida


The plaintiff, Nancy C. Vaida (mother), appeals from an order for summary judgment on her complaint seeking that the defendant, George A. Vaida (father), pay post minority support for his twenty-three year old physically disabled son.


The parties had three minor children. While the parties were separated and divorce proceedings were pending, two of the minor children were injured in a terrible car accident. As a result of the accident, Evan became a partial quadriplegic. The father was wholly responsible for the injuries that the children sustained. The mother subsequently filed a civil suit against the father.  While the suit was pending, the divorce was finalized.


The question before the court on appeal was whether a person of full mental faculties could receive post minority child support. The court held that post minority support is not available to adult children who are not incapacitated persons placed under guardianship. The court went onto say that a guardianship would not be appropriate as Evan had full mental faculties. The court also found that equity jurisdiction was not appropriate as the court’s role is to “enforce existing obligations . . . and not create new obligations.”

Comment: This case is important because it establishes principal and post minority support is only allowed in guardianship of incapacitated persons. If you have a disabled child you will need to do some advanced financial planning.

Special Needs Alliance Website