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Showing posts from January, 2011

Is the Ibanez decision a landmark case?

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The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court recently issued a decision in the case of U.S. BANK NATIONAL ASSO. v. IBANEZ, (Mass. 172011) (Jan 7, 2011) in which the court held that two foreclosures in Massachusetts were void. Some commentators have treated this decision as a landmark decision in real estate that will shake up the mortgage industry. I think that this case is a reaffirmation of traditional concepts in real estate law. It may help some homeowners understand their rights, Some people who have lost their homes to foreclosure may even get their homes back. It should cause mortgage companies to be more careful in their attention to the paperwork and detail of mortgages and foreclosure.
Massachusetts law of mortgages and foreclosure was created in a day before computers when banks treated mortgages one at a time. Usually, banks loaned money and held the mortgage until it was paid off. Today, banks loan money for mortgages and sell them to other investors before the ink dries on …

What does it take for a party to get 90% of the assets in a divorce?

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Property division in a divorce is controlled by G.L. c. 208, §34 which lists the factors for a judge to consider when making a decision about property division. Usually, the judge makes a division somewhere between a 50-50 split and a 60-40 split. Sometimes, the judge may make a more lopsided division of 65-35 or even 70-30. It is almost unheard of for a judge to divide the assets by an 80-20 split. In the recent case of Wolcott v. Wolcott, 78 Mass.App.Ct. 539 (2011), the court did the unthinkable and awarded the husband 90% of the assets. This lopsided division was based on highly unusual circumstances.
In this case, the wife tried to hire someone to kill the husband and may even have tried to kill him herself. She was convicted of attempting to hire a hitman and served three months in jail. The appeals court found that "conviction of a spouse of the crime of soliciting the murder of the other spouse" was "exceptional" conduct that shocked the conscience of the co…

How does the father protect his parental rights when he is not married to the mother?

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Men are suppose to have equal rights with women in Massachusetts. However, a recent case explains that when it comes to children from parents who are not married to each other, men don’t have equal rights unless they take certain steps to protect those rights. Ideally, men and women have equal rights under the law. However, science does not afford the same level of equality. When a child is born, there is no question of the identity of the mother of the child. Therefore, the law recognizes the mother and her parental rights immediately upon birth. Biology does not make identification of the father so easy. A man may be present at birth, have his name on his birth certificate, and support the child. However, these actions are not sufficient to instill the man with parental rights. An alleged father of a nonmarital child may become a legal parent in one of two ways only: through an adjudication by a judge, or by filing a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity executed by both parents. T…

Massachusetts has a new homestead law.

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Massachusetts has changed the homestead law effective in March 2011. These changes will benefit every person in Massachusetts that owns a home. A homestead is a statutory exemption protecting a principal residence against the rights of creditors. This means that a homeowner who owes money for a debt has some protection against losing his home to the creditor. The new homestead law provides an automatic homestead in the amount of $125,000.00 and three other types of optional homesteads that provide protection of $500,000.00. I recommend that every homeowner should take advantage of the homestead law and file a declaration of homestead to take advantage of the full $500,000.00 protection.
A homestead does not prevent a creditor from attaching a home. As an example of the way this law works, take the example of Homeowner A who causes an auto accident and gets sued for $1,000.000.00. The damages sought exceed the amount of A’s auto insurance so the victim of the accident obtains an attac…