News

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Christopher Vaughn-Martel Named to 2016 Massachusetts Super Lawyers list.

Christopher Vaughn-Martel, Managing Partner at Charles River Law Partners, has been selected for inclusion in the 2016 list of Super Lawyers as a "Rising Star". This is the second time Chris has received the Super Lawyer designation, and the 10th Super Lawyer designation for the firm as a whole!

Read more . . .


Sunday, December 13, 2015

Introducing Charles River Law Partners LLC! Vaughn-Martel Law to Merge with Charles River Closings LLC.

An open letter to clients, colleagues, and friends of Vaughn-Martel Law:

I have the great pleasure of announcing that Vaughn-Martel Law will merge with the Boston real estate law firm Charles River Closings LLC on January 1, 2016. The new firm will be named Charles River Law Partners LLC.  Over the past year, Charles River Closings LLC has served as the exclusive real estate transactional partner of Vaughn-Martel Law.  The merger of the two firms will allow us to deliver a seamless client experience in both transactional and civil litigation matters.  In addition to the practice of real estate law, the firm will continue to represent clients in estate planning and probate, family law matters ranging from divorce to reproductive law, as well as general civil litigation and advocacy.


Read more . . .


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Vaughn-Martel Law Attorneys Walsh and McNeil Make Boston Magazine's 2013 List of 'Rising Stars'

Congratulations to Attorneys Jessica M. Walsh and Emily Towne McNeil, who were both recognized as 'Rising Stars' by Boston Magazine in its 2013 list of Super Lawyers.


Read more . . .


Thursday, August 22, 2013

New Rules Will Simplify Certain Uncontested Family Court Matters

This summer, the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court announced changes to Rule 412 of the Supplemental Rules of the Probate and Family Court.  These changes went into effect on August 1, 2013.  The changes to Rule 412 allow parties to jointly request modification of a judgment or order of the Probate and Family Court where:

  1. the parties are in agreement;
  2. the agreement is in writing; and
  3. all other requirements of the Rules are met.

Following this procedure - and assuming that the parties' file is otherwise in order - will allow the parties to be granted a modification without having to appear in court.

Previously, Rule 412 addressed only child support judgment modifications, and if the parties were in agreement regarding a modification of child support, they were required to file a joint petition for modification of child support.  The parties would not be required to appear in court.

Rule 412 has now been expanded to allow parties to modify temporary orders in addition to final judgments, and to modify judgments or orders other than child support using this procedure as well.  These changes will allow the courts to handle more cases administratively and help to alleviate backed up clerk’s offices in the probate and family courts throughout the state.

If you are interested in modifying a judgment or order of the Probate and Family Court with the assent of the other party, contact a local family law attorney to learn about your options and the newly simplified procedure.

A complete copy of Massachusetts Supplemental Probate and Family Court Rule 412: Uncontested Actions to Modify a Judgment or Order can be read in the link provided.

About the Firm.  Vaughn-Martel Law represents parents and children throughout Massachusetts in divorce, child custody, modifications, co-parenting, and all aspects of family creation and family law.  If you have a question about your specific parenting plan, marital settlement agreement, or court order, or wish to speak to an attorney about effectively parenting with a former spouse or partner, we invite you to contact us.


Sunday, February 24, 2013

Vaughn-Martel Law's Jessica M. Walsh Named to Massachusetts Domestic and Sexual Violence Council

Earlier this month, Attorney Jessica M. Walsh was voted into membership of the Massachusetts Domestic and Sexual Violence Council ("DSVC").  The DSVC is a Boston-based organization comprised of experienced lawyers and advocates, hailing from various law firms, legal service organizations, and community support centers in Massachusetts.

The DSVC works to promote awareness of domestic and sexual violence and assist the Massachusetts legal community in working appropriately and successfully with survivors.  DSVC members are chosen because they possess unique knowledge and expertise in working with survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, specifically in the legal context.

Vaughn-Martel Law congratulates and thanks Attorney Walsh for her continued advocacy on behalf of survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence.


Monday, January 7, 2013

New Massachusetts Law Provides Increased Protections to Renters who Experience Domestic Abuse or Sexual Violence

On January 3, 2013, Governor Deval Patrick signed a bill designed to give survivors of domestic violence, stalking and sexual assault the legal ability to break a lease agreement or tenancy when a survivor’s living situation is no longer safe.  Under the new law, a tenant or co-tenant (a person who has entered into an oral or written lease or rental agreement with the owner) may terminate a rental agreement or tenancy and move out of the residence after delivering written notice to the owner that a member of the household is a survivor of domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, or stalking.  Notification must either be given within 3 months of the most recent act of violence or a member of the tenant’s household must be reasonably in fear of imminent serious physical harm.

A landlord will have the right to request proof of the status as a victim including the name of the perpetrator.  Any information given to the owner as proof must be kept confidential by the landlord.  Under the law, a tenant who is not a perpetrator will be discharged from liability for rent or use and occupancy 1 full rental period (and not less than 30 days) after the quitting date. The quitting date is the date that a tenant surrenders his or her interest in the premises.  If the tenant has vacated the premises, the quitting date is considered to be the date notice is given to the owner of the intent not to return to the premises.  If the tenant is still living on the premises, the quitting date is considered to be the date the tenant intends to vacate the premises or the actual date the tenant vacates after providing notice.

For purposes of this law, domestic violence is characterized as the occurrence of 1 or more of the following acts between family or members of a household:

  1. Attempting to cause or causing physical harm;
  2. Placing another in fear of imminent serious physical harm;
  3. Causing another to engage involuntarily in sexual relations by force, threat or duress.

Rape, sexual assault, and stalking retain their legal definitions under the Massachusetts general laws.

If a tenant is experiencing an abusive living situation and submits written notice to the landlord that they wish to terminate their tenancy, they must move out within 3 months of the written notification.  After the three month period expires, the notice to terminate the rental agreement or tenancy is void and they continue to be responsible for all rental payments.  If they still wish to move, they must submit a new notice to the landlord and make sure to move out within the next three months.

As stated above, an owner may request proof from the tenant of the alleged violence. Proof of status as a victim can be satisfied by production of any 1 of the following documents:

  1. A copy of a valid protection order (commonly called a restraining order) under chapter 209A or 258E;
  2. A record from a federal, state or local court or law enforcement of an action of domestic violence, rape, sexual assault or stalking and the name of the perpetrator, if known; OR
  3. A written verification from any other qualified third party (such as a police officer, lawyer, victim witness advocate, DCF employee, etc) to whom the tenant, co-tenant or member of the tenant or co-tenant’s household reported the violence; provided, however, that the verification shall include the name of the organization and include the date of the violent act(s), and the name of the perpetrator if known; and provided further, that any adult victim who has the capacity to do so shall provide a statement, under the penalty of perjury, that the incident described in such verification is true and correct.

A valid restraining order or protection order is not a requirement to avail yourself of the protections of this new law; however it would act as sufficient proof to an owner in the event an owner demands proof.

The passage and signing of this law is a concrete and public declaration that domestic and sexual violence will not be tolerated in our communities.  This law allows survivors to be let out of their leases without fearing that landlords will take them to court and sue them for the remainder of the money owed on their lease.  Massachusetts, and Boston specifically, is home to a large number of renters due to the prevalence of colleges and graduate schools.  This law especially gives security to these younger student renters, often living on lower incomes, and in multiple-tenant living situations, by enabling them to escape dangerous and potentially life threatening abuse without the added financial and legal burdens of being sued by a landlord.  The reality is that, in the past, survivors may have remained trapped, risking their lives on a daily basis with an abusive household member, and being told by a landlord that they were legally and financially obligation to remain locked in their tenancy.

As a practical matter, the new law effectively provides tenants with a defense to suits by landlords for unpaid rent and for breaches of lease agreements.  In other words, tenants who are sued by their landlords for unpaid rent or breaches of their lease agreement may have a defense if they can demonstrate to a court that they have carefully followed the proscriptions of the new law.  A properly drafted lease agreement should still permit the landlord to pursue the perpetrator tenant for all rent owed under the lease while releasing the abused tenant.  While the contours of the new law are unknown and will certainly cause some amount of confusion among tenants, landlords, and courts, it will give survivors a choice they did not previously have available to them.

Aside from relieving certain people from rental obligations, the bill also prevents landlords from refusing to rent to someone because of his or her victimization and authorizes lock changes at a tenant’s expense.

The attorneys at Vaughn-Martel law specialize in issues of tenant-landlord law, domestic and sexual violence, and safety planning.  Whether you are a tenant who believes that this new law may apply to you, or you are a landlord who is unsure of how to comply with its terms, we invite you to schedule a consultation with our office.


Friday, July 13, 2012

Vaughn-Martel Law Welcomes 2012 Summer Law Clerk Luke V. Bradley

We are pleased to announce the addition of Luke V. Bradley, who joins Vaughn-Martel as a 2012 summer law clerk.  Luke has completed his first year of law school at New England Law | Boston, where he made the Dean’s List.  Luke participates in the New England Law | Boston’s Student Ambassador Program assisting prospective students determine the right school for them.  Luke also volunteers for the New England Law | Boston Mentor Program, helping new students adjust to the demands of law school.

Before joining Vaughn-Martel Law, Luke interned with the Norwalk Public Defenders Office, aiding legal counsel for criminal defendants who could not afford private counsel.  Luke also clerked for the District of Columbia Office of Human Rights, supporting the Senior Mediator in addressing employment and housing discrimination in Washington, DC.

Luke is a native of Reading, Massachusetts, and graduated from Sacred Heart University with a B.S. in Criminal Justice.  During his free time, Luke enjoys music, literature, and spending time at the Boston Rock Gym.

All of us at Vaughn-Martel Law wish departing law clerk and recent law school graduate, Scott Clark, the best of luck on his bar exam and what will certainly be a bright legal career.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Vaughn-Martel Law's Jessica M. Walsh Invited to Sit on Human Rights & Sex Trafficking Film Forum Committee

Attorney Jessica Walsh has been invited to sit on the Boston Initiative to Advance Human Rights’ (BITAHR) 2012 Human Rights & Sex Trafficking Film Forum Committee.  BITAHR launched Human Rights and Sex Trafficking: A Film Forum in 2010 to explore the use of film as an effective way to raise awareness and trigger action in combating commercial sexual exploitation of girls and women.  The Forum considers the role of film in advancing women’s human rights and the many governmental and non-governmental organizations' efforts to combat sex trafficking.  Jessica is honored to have the opportunity to be part of such a vital cause.  For more information on BITAHR, and the 2012 Human Rights & Sex Trafficking Film Forum (to be held in January, 2012), please visit http://bitahr.org/index.html.  To read more about Vaughn-Martel Law, or about Attorney Walsh, visit www.vaughnmartel.com.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Texas Court Ruling a Reminder to Same-Sex Parents: Plan for the Worst

Recent news out of a Texas family court has many people discussing how far this country still needs to go in recognizing the rights of same-sex couples and same-sex parents, and has Massachusetts lawyers reminding themselves that their clients are better off safe than sorry.

As reported by the Advocate, a heterosexual couple in the state of Texas divorced after having three children.  The mother was awarded custody of the children. The father, William Flowers, eventually re-married Jim Evans, a man, in Connecticut, and they traveled back to Texas to live.

After the father’s re-marriage, he attempted to obtain custody of his children in a Texas family court.  Texas bans the recognition of same-sex relationships, including Flowers’s Connecticut marriage to Evans.  The Judge, on top of denying the father custody, ordered that the father could never leave his children with any man who isn’t part of the family without Mother’s permission.  The Judge eventually changed the wording to read “any person not related to the children”, but this superficial change did nothing to assuage the GBLT media, GBLT activist groups, and lawyers all over the country.  It especially did nothing to ease the pain and indignity felt by Flowers, Evans, and their family.

This story out of Texas is a harsh warning to gay and lesbian families in states, including Massachusetts, that recognize same-sex marriage and same-sex parenting rights.  It is also a reminder to attorneys of the critical importance of making sure clients put in place all possible safeguards in order to protect their families.

Same-sex families in Massachusetts need to take every legal step available to protect their marriage and their children, so that in the event that they, their spouse, their property, or a loved one ends up within the jurisdiction of a hostile state like Texas, their relationships and property will be protected.

Important legal protections available to same-sex couples (and opposite-sex couples) include preparing a comprehensive estate plan, with property and healthcare directives, preparing domestic partnership or property ownership agreements, preparing co-parenting agreements, and petitioning for a decree of adoption of their spouse or partner’s children, among others.

The current non-uniformity of patchwork state laws concerning the recognition of same-sex relationships and families makes it all the more important for gay and lesbian families to start a relationship with a GLBTQ family practitioner and take full advantage of the legal protections offered to them.  While it is infuriating and unjust that same-sex couples must endure the cost and complexity of additional planning to protect their families, it is better to be safe than sorry.


Friday, September 9, 2011

Vaughn-Martel Law Introduces "ClientConnect" Online Client Case Management Portal

We are pleased to introduce an exciting new way for clients to view important case documents, court notices and filings, and billing information in their case at any time from any computer.  We are offering the service absolutely free of charge to all our clients.

Now, clients can send secure communications, share documents, and review and pay bills with a credit card on-line, all from their own personalized case management portal.  “ClientConnect” allows our clients to have real time access to their own case files and invoices, and all information is safeguarded using SSL encryption to ensure the privacy and security of attorney-client communications.

Visit vaughnmartel.wordpress.com to read more and explore our blog!

 


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Announcing a New Legal Blog for Vaughn-Martel Law

Welcome to the legal blog for Vaughn-Martel Law, a premier Boston law firm serving a diverse community throughout Massachusetts. Check back often for legal news, discussion, and analysis in family law, estate planning, and general civil litigation issues here in Massachusetts.

Visit vaughnmartel.wordpress.com to read more and explore our blog!



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