Family Law Mediation

Family Law Mediation can be an excellent way to resolve a divorce, child support issue or child custody issue.  The parties meet with a mediator in an informal setting.  The mediator is impartial.  He listens to the concerns of both sides and aids the parties in coming to an agreement.  

The mediation may be completed in one session, or may need a few sessions to work out all of the details, depending on the complexity of the matter.  

The biggest benefit to mediation is that the parties avoid the costly process of litigation associated with a divorce or other family court matter.  

If you have any questions about the mediation process, or would like to schedule a mediation with one of our attorneys, contact Broadbent & Taylor today for details.

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Injured in an Automobile Accident?

Were you injured in a car accident?  Contact an attorney immediately to discuss your potential rights.  Typically most medical bills will be covered under personal injury protection, however, an attorney can go after money for your pain and suffering and your lost wages.  

Contact Broadbent & Taylor  today to discuss your potential injury claims.  Our attorneys are available to assist you every step of the way.  We will fight to go after as much compensation from the insurance companies as possible.

We offer a free consultation for all injury claims in Massachusetts.

The attorneys at Broadbent & Taylor are certified to represent Family Law clients on a limited representation basis.

Limited representation means that a client may be represented for a portion of the case, or for a specific hearing. For example, if a client needs help drafting the complaint, the client may hire the attorney to do that specific task. Also, if the client is looking for representation at just the pretrial hearing, or motion hearing, they may hire the attorney for that limited purpose. A client involved in a complicated divorce may hire the attorney to represent them on only the financial portion of the case, or only to deal with child custudy matters.

If you are looking to hire an attorney on a limited basis for a Family Law Matter, contact Broadbent & Taylor today for a consultation.

Family Law limited representation

Fight A Massachusetts Speeding Ticket

In Massachusetts, speeding and other violations can affect not only your wallet for the fine, but your insurance premiums and even your right to drive.

Most offenses are known as surchargeable offenses.  If you choose to pay the citation, your insurance company can raise your insurance premiums for each offense on the ticket.  In addition, the Registry of Motor Vehicles keeps track of the number of surchargeable offenses on your driving record, and can suspend your license if they accumulate over certain time periods.

The Appeals Process

If you choose to appeal the ticket, sign the back, and check off the box requesting a hearing.  Mail the ticket within 20 days to the address listed.  It is wise to keep a copy of the citation.  The RMV will send you a notice that the citation was received with a request for a $25.00 filing fee.  Pay the fee within 20 days or you could lose your right to a hearing.  Once the fee is paid, the RMV will send the paperwork to the court, who schedules you for a clerk magistrate hearing.

The clerk magistrate hearing is your first chance to have the ticket disposed of.  The clerk will listen to the information on the ticket, and then allow you or your attorney to speak as to your version of the facts.  The clerk will make a decision as to the outcome, which will either be responsible, with some fine attached, or not responsible.

If you receive a not responsible, the police prosecutor has the right to appeal to a judge hearing.  If he does not, the matter is finished.  You will not have to pay the fine, and the events will not count as surchargeable on your driving record.

If you receive a responsible finding, with the full fine or a reduced fine, you may either choose to accept the finding or appeal to a judge hearing.  If you accept the finding, you will have 20 days to pay the ticket, and the event will be recorded as a surchargeable event.  If you choose to appeal, you must pay the court a $50.00 appeal fee, and the matter will be scheduled for a judge hearing.

In Massachusetts, there is no way to pay a fine and eliminate the surcharge from your record.

If you elect to have a judge appeal, the officer that cited you will be summonsed to court.  If he fails to appear, you win by default..  If the officer does appear, a full trial is held on the merits.  The officer must show by a preponderence of the evidence (more likely than not) that you violated the statutes that you were cited under.  The officer is allowed to testify.  You or your attorney have the right to cross examine the officer. Then you have the right to testify on your own behalf.

The judge will make a determination that you are responsible at some fine, or that you are not responsible. If the clerk offered to reduce the fine for you, the judge still may impose the full fine, or may find you not responsible.  He is not bound by the clerk’s decision.  

Most cases end after the judge appeal, however, you may have a case that can be appealed to the appellate division.  To excercise this appeal, you must argue that the judge made an error of law in your case.  An argument that he made a factual judgment error is not enough to proceed.  This is a costly appeal and will most likely not be successful.

License Suspensions in Massachusetts

If you accrue surchargeable events against your driving record, you could be looking at a suspension of your license.

Surchargeable Events

A citation received for a traffic law violation is surchargeable if the violation is included in the list of surchargeable traffic violations is Appendix A of the Safe Driver Insurance Plan Regulation, of if the cited operator:

  • Pays the fine assessed; or
  • Is found guilty or responsible by the court; or 
  • Is assigned by the court to a driver alcohol education program or a controlled substance abse treatment or rehabilitation program; or
  • Defaults on the citation by failing to pay the asssessed fine or failing to attend the hearing.

For a complete list of surchargeable offenses you can visit the Massachusetts executive office of public safety with the following link:  http://www.mass.gov/eopss/consumer-prot-and-bus-lic/vehicle-insur-mrb/surcharges/traffic-violations/major-traffic-law-violations.html

Suspensions

If you accumulate surchargeable events, you could be at risk for the following suspensions:

  • 3 speeding tickets within 1 year results in a 30 day suspension.  The 1 year is not a calender year. It begins at the finding date of the first ticket, and tolls for 1 year from that date
  • 3 surchargeable events or moving violations with 2 years results in an indefinite suspension. With this suspension, the operator may take the National Motorist Safety course to avoid the period of suspension.  It must be taken within 90 days of the notice to take the class, or the suspension will go into effect.  Once the suspension goes into effect, the motorist still must complete the course, and must pay a $100 fee to the registry for reinstatement.
  • 7 surchargeable events or moving violations within 3 years results in a 60 day license suspension. A $100.00 reinstatement fee must be paid to the registry at the end of the suspension to reinstate the license.
  • A Habitual Traffic Offender Suspension or HTO is triggered with 3 major moving violations or 12 major or minor moving violations over 5 years.  If another state reports a surchargeable event, it is calculated in the violations. Surchargeable accidents are not calculated in the violations. The operator receives a 4 year suspension for a HTO.  In addition, to reinstate the license, the operator must take both the written and driving portion of the license test, and pay a $500.00 reinstatement fee.  

If you are looking at any of these suspensions, please call our office for a consultation as to whether you may be able to appeal for a hardship license.

Junior Operator Laws in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, a junior operator is any operator under 18.  Massachusetts has strict regulations concerning Junior Operators, with harsh punishments.

Use of Mobile Phones by Junior Operator

  • A Junior Operator is not permitted to use a mobile phone or handheld device for any purpose while operating in Massachusetts.  Reporting an Emergency with a mobile phone is the only exception.  Operators are encouraged to pull over to do so.
  • A first offense results in a $100 fine with a 60 day license suspension and a attitudinal course
  • A second offense results in a $250 fine and a 180 day license suspension
  • A third or subsequent offense results in a $500 fine and a 1 year license suspension

Negligent Operation and Injury From Mobile Phone Use (Criminal Offense)

  • A first offense results in a 180 day license suspension
  • A second offense or subsequent within 3 years results in a 1 year suspension 
  • A $500 reinstatement fee is imposed on the operator

Speeding 

Speeding Carries a 90 day suspension with driver retraining course and a SCARR course, as well as a $500 reinstatement fee and the requirement to retake the license test.  A second or third offense triggers a one year suspension, along with the classes and reinstatement fees.

Appeals

The best way to avoid these suspensions is to appeal the citations and win.  If you would like a consultation regarding the citations, please contact our office.  If you have paid the citations, and are facing the suspensions, you may be elligible for a hardship license through the Registry of Motor Vehicles Board of Appeals. 

For a complete list of all Junior Operator offenses, please see the Registry of Motor Vehicle Website at: http://www.mass.gov/rmv/jol/jol_penalties_chart.htm

Obtaining a Restraining Order in MA

Massachusetts has several ways of obtaining a restraining order or a protective order.

Criminal No Contact Order

If you are a victim in a criminal case, you may ask the District Attorney to request a no contact order as terms of the defendant’s release.  In the event they violate this order, the defendant could have his bail revoked pending trial, or could be charged with another crime, such as intimidating a witness.

209A Restraining Order

In Massachusetts, under 209A, if you are in an adult or minor family or household member, you may petition the district court for a 209A restraining order.  

To proceed with a 209A restraining order, you may file a complaint at the district court, family court or superior court in which you reside. 

Upon the filing of the complaint, a judge will hold an ex parte hearing to determine if there is a sufficient basis to grant the restraining order.  If the judge determines that this basis exists, the judge will schedule the matter for a second hearing so that the other party may be given notice.

At the second hearing, both parties are permitted to testify as to why the order should or should not be granted.  If the order is granted, the judge may extend it for up to 1 year.

Violations of the 209A Restraining Order are criminal in nature.  The defendant can be charged criminally for each violation of this order.

There is no filing fee for a 209A order.

Complaint for Restraining Order

In the event a party does not meet the requirements set for in 209A for a family or household member, a party can file a complaint in the Superior Court for a restraining order.  This is the proper venue to file a complaint against a friend, coworker, neighbor or landlord.

To do so, a complaint must allege the reasons for the restraining order.  Like the 209A order, the victim would proceed in front of a judge ex parte, then, if the order is granted, the judge would schedule the hearing for a 2 party complaint.  

The Superior Court Order requires that the victim pay both a filing fee, as well as a restraining order fee and service fees, unless the victim is indigant.  

Anti Harrassment and Anti Abuse Laws under MGL 258E

In 2010, Massachusetts enacted antiharrassment and antiabuse laws, which are less restrictive than the 209A laws in terms of granting the orders.  Unlike MGL 209A, this statute does not limit the class that can apply for the order.  There is no requirement for a familial or household relationship. The order can be applied for at any District, Superior, Family or Juvenile Court having jurisdiction over the victim. Like the 209A order, the court would hear the initial complaint ex parte.  If the court determines that there is a basis for the order, a temporary order is granted, and the matter is scheduled for a 2 party hearing where the defendant would receive notice of the hearing. 

Harrassment is defined as:

  • 3 or more acts of willful and malicious conduct aimed at a specific person committed with the intent to cause fear, intimidation, abuse or damage to property, and that does in fact cause fear, intimidation, abuse or damage to property; or 
  • an act that by force, threat or duress causes another to involuntarily engage in sexual relations; or
  • constitutes a violation of section 13B,13F, 13H, 22, 22A, 23, 24, 24B, 43 or 43A of chapter 265 or section 3 of chapter 272.

Abuse is defined as:

  • attempting to cause or causing physical harm or placing another in fear of imminent physical harm.

The requirements under this statute are less burdensome than those under MGL 209A, and lessen the burned of the victim to obtain a protective order.

A violation of an order under 258E is criminal in nature, and criminal charges can be brought against the defendant for each violation.

There is no filing fee to apply for this type of protective order.