Office closure due to weather

As a result of the blizzard expected to pound Central and Eastern Massachusetts tomorrow, in the interests of safety, Vadimus Law is closing its office to visitors and cancelling all in-person appointments.

If you have an appointment or delivery scheduled for Tuesday, March 14, 2017, please contact me via text or email to reschedule.

Posted on March 13, 2017 .

New Uniform Interstate Family & Support Act is now in effect.

Until April 1, 2016, Massachusetts was the only remaining state to stick by the old version of UIFSA.  The old version did not match the uniform law, federal laws, or the laws of other states, resulting in situations where the jurisdiction of interstate support matters was unclear and unpredictable.  The problem with unclear and unpredictable statutes is that they increase litigation and cost you money in attorney's fees.

How the new UIFSA might affect your child support case will depend - heavily - on the specifics of your interstate situation (or potential circumstances, if you are thinking about a move).

If you want to read over the statute, you can find it here.

Posted on April 4, 2016 .

Statute of Limitations for Estates

The Appeals Court in Richard Abrahamson v. Estate of John LeBold just issued a new decision concerning the short statute of limitations - one year - contained in G.L. s.190B, s.3-803(a) of the Massachusetts Uniform Probate Code ("MUPC").  Abrahamson had filed suit against the living John LeBold in Ohio.  The suit was dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction over LeBold, and Abrahamson appealed. When LeBold died during the appeal, Abrahamson asked the Ohio Court to substitute Mr. LeBold's estate as a defendant.  This is typical practice in a lawsuit where a party has died and the claim survives the person's death.  An "Estate" is a legal entity, crafted by statute, which steps into the shoes of the recently-deceased to wrap up the deceased person's financial affairs. The Ohio court allowed the substitution.

Over a year after LeBold's death the Ohio appellate Court upheld the dismissal. The case was effectively dead in Ohio. Abrahamson filed a new case here in Massachusetts about six months after that.

Because the dismissal in Ohio was based on a particular technicality - personal jurisdiction - Abrahamson refiled here in Massachusetts under a law which allows refiling of lawsuits which are dismissed for such purely technical issues.  That law, G.L. c.260, s.32, allows the refiling as long as the refiling happens within one year of the dismissal.

However, the MUPC has its own statute of limitations, which prohibits claims against an estate after one year from the passing of the deceased person. 

In this case, it had been less than a year after the dismissal, but over a year since LeBold's death. The Court needed to resolve which statute of limitations would apply -- the limit in c.260 or c.190B.

The Court concluded G.L. c.260 has language in c.260 which determines the result. "If a special provision is otherwise made relative to the limitation of any action, any provision of this chapter inconsistent therewith shall not apply." The Court considered that the purpose of the s.3-803(a) was to protect estates by shortening the time for a claim; the purpose c.260 is to allow more litigation, and is inconsistent with the purpose of the new Probate Code. The Court also considered that when Massachusetts replaced the old probate code, it specifically removed, and did not replace, a clause in the old law which functioned similarly to c.260.  Accordingly, the Court concluded that the Legislature did not intend to allow c.260 to be applied to the one year limit in s.3-803(a).

As a result, Abrahamson filed his lawsuit in Massachusetts too late to proceed with his claim against the Estate.  So if you have claims against a deceased person, which are dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction or other technical matters of form, you are forced to choose between abandoning an appeal of the dismissal or filing a new case if it has been less than a year since the person's death. If it is more than one year from their death, c.260 will not save you.

Posted on March 18, 2016 .

My, my, my; it has been a while.

     It has been quite a long time since I last posted here.  It is no coincidence that the last post was announcing that I was beginning to represent children and indigent parents in care & protection ("C&P") actions.  My experience as privately paid counsel in such cases did not prepare me for the accelerating floodwaters of the new C&P cases being filed by the Department of Children and Families.  I have been incredibly busy maintaining my private practice and expanding my work into this new area of social justice.

     While there are excellent, caring individual social workers and attorneys who work for DCF and are seriously committed to protecting children and families, many are jaded, cynical and burning-out.  Children are being taken for insufficient or barely sufficient reason because DCF as a state organization is afraid to be seen as not doing enough; services aren't sufficiently (or at all) provided, especially to address underlying problems of homelessness, unemployment, mental health issues, and lack of transportation; and cases are rushed to the 'termination' (adoption or guardianship) court track having been pushed there by external pressures having nothing to do with the case at hand.  Social workers are overwhelmed by their caseloads, often so large as to be in violation of their union contracts.  Even the adversarial nature of the C&P case undermines the interests and abilities of parents to work with DCF.

     There are no easy answers. I can tell you this, from my brief experience over the past year - more and more children are being permanently removed from the custody of their parents because the root of their problems is that their parents lack stable housing, employment, and access to transportation. No judge would say, or (I believe) would ever think, that 'This parent has no home, no car and no job - you are therefore unfit.'   But homelessness, unemployment, and no transportation leads directly to showing up late for DCF visits; to having already-limited housing options disappear because so many areas of Massachusetts lack public transportation; to lacking access to basic hygiene, so parents are forced to appear slovenly or smelling of cigarettes, alcohol or pot (not necessarily their own) to DCF appointments where they are observed and noted as such by their social workers; to lacking access to communication, which means being handicapped in any job search; and to experiencing a disastrous peak in the basic stressors of daily living - resulting in mental health crises and addiction relapses.

      Parents and children whose family is displaced are experiencing a hurricane-level trauma. Their family home (metaphorically speaking) has been smashed.  Then they are expected to rebuild their home when all the Commonwealth and DCF can offer them is a garden trowel and point them to the hardware store.  Is it any wonder that many, many parents' homes are not rebuilt under such conditions?

Posted on April 17, 2015 .

Making the world a better place for children.

I am pleased to announce that I have been certified to represent children and indigent parents as court-appointed counsel in DCF matters before the Juvenile Court - Care & Protection and Children Requiring Assistance (formerly CHINS) actions. If you are a subject child, or a parent meeting low-income and low-asset guidelines, you are constitutionally entitled to a lawyer! And now that includes me. For me, this is a long-awaited opportunity to add a new way to craft a better world for all of our children. Raising one's own family is a constitutionally protected right; children desperately need a voice in the court, and parents should be empowered to force the Commonwealth and DCF to prove their case.

Posted on June 3, 2014 .

We have a new web site!

Thank you to everyone for their patience.  The transfer from Google Sites to Squarespace is nearly complete.  As my own webmaster,  there's still construction going on.  There will be ongoing change, both visual and substantive for the next few weeks.  Comments and feedback are welcomed.

Posted on October 2, 2013 and filed under tech, web site.

Office Closed

For those who are not aware, Newton is one of the communities in 'lockdown' mode as a result of the manhunt.  Our office will be closed today.  I will be receiving emails and telexfaxes over the course of the day.
Posted on April 19, 2013 .

Weather Report: Appointments Cancelled

While the office will be physically open to receive service and deliveries all appointments for today have been rescheduled; if you are a client with an appointment, you should have received a text or call this morning.

I will be checking emails and telephone messages over the course of the day, contingent on there not being any outages.

Thank you for our patience with New England weather!

Stay safe.

--Stephen Karpf
Posted on March 8, 2013 .

On Monday the New York Times posted this interesting article about the long-term impact of longer prison terms over the course of a generation.



Posted on February 20, 2013 .

Unmarried Equality

The "Alternatives to Marriage" Project has changed its name to "Unmarried Equality". A substantial part of my practice involves supporting unmarried persons obtain legal rights and obligations which are intentionally similar to the rights and obligations which come from the secular recognition of marriage. Individuals in all possible combinations, who can not or choose not to marry, can use durable powers of attorney, trusts, and partnership agreements to accomplish this. Allowing same-sex marriage in Massachusetts is only one (albeit substantial) part of unmarried equality. I encourage you to look at Unmarried Equalities web site and consider their thoughts and how they might apply to you and the people you care about. They are not seeking to reduce the value of marriage in society; they strive to have society recognize that unmarried people should be able have the same rights and responsibilities as those who have chosen to enter into marriage.

Unmarried Equality
Posted on February 16, 2013 .

Office closure for Friday, February 8, 2013

While it is unclear whether the building will be open tomorrow, I will not be in the office or traveling from home on Friday; between recovery from a back injury and the blizzard, discretion is the better part of valor.

Access via email and text may be limited depending the viability of power and broadband from my home office.

Best wishes to all, stay home, and enjoy the snow.

--Stephen Karpf
Posted on February 7, 2013 .

Blizzard warning for Friday, February 8, 2013

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration folks currently are saying the below as of the date and time of this posting.  

Clients with appointments on Friday should be sure at the end of the business day on Thursday to check their cellphones and (for the old-fashioned) answering machines for possible cancellations.

Be safe.

--Stephen Karpf


URGENT - WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TAUNTON MA
319 PM EST WED FEB 6 2013

...A POTENTIAL HISTORIC WINTER STORM AND BLIZZARD IS EXPECTED TO
DROP 1 TO 2 FEET OF SNOW ACROSS MUCH OF THE REGION FRIDAY INTO
SATURDAY...

...BLIZZARD WATCH IN EFFECT FROM FRIDAY MORNING THROUGH SATURDAY
AFTERNOON...
...WINTER STORM WATCH IS CANCELLED...

* LOCATIONS...MUCH OF EASTERN MASSACHUSETTS AS WELL AS NORTHERN AND
  CENTRAL RHODE ISLAND. THIS INCLUDES THE BOSTON TO PROVIDENCE
  CORRIDOR.

* HAZARD TYPES...HEAVY SNOW WITH THE POTENTIAL FOR BLIZZARD
  CONDITIONS.

* ACCUMULATIONS...SNOW ACCUMULATION OF 12 TO 24 INCHES.

* TIMING...LIGHT SNOW DEVELOPS BY FRIDAY MORNING. SNOW WILL
  INCREASE INTENSITY DURING FRIDAY AFTERNOON. THE HEAVIEST SNOW
  WILL OCCUR FRIDAY NIGHT INTO SATURDAY MORNING.

* IMPACTS...HEAVY SNOW AND STRONG WINDS WILL BRING THE POTENTIAL
  FOR BLIZZARD CONDITIONS. THE WORST OF THE STORM WILL BE FRIDAY
  NIGHT INTO SATURDAY MORNING. SNOWFALL RATES OF 2 TO 3 INCHES PER
  HOUR POSSIBLE. TRAVEL MAY BECOME NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE WITH BLOWING
  AND DRIFTING SNOW.

* WINDS...NORTHEAST 25 TO 35 MPH WITH GUSTS UP TO 55 MPH.

* VISIBILITIES...ONE QUARTER MILE OR LESS AT TIMES.

* TEMPERATURES...IN THE MID 20S.


PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

A BLIZZARD WATCH MEANS THERE IS A POTENTIAL FOR CONSIDERABLE
FALLING AND/OR BLOWING SNOW WITH SUSTAINED WINDS OR FREQUENT
GUSTS OVER 35 MPH AND VISIBILITIES BELOW 1/4 MILE FOR AT LEAST
3 HOURS. WHITE OUT CONDITIONS WILL BE POSSIBLE...MAKING TRAVEL
VERY DANGEROUS.  BE PREPARED TO ALTER ANY TRAVEL PLANS.
Posted on February 6, 2013 .

Office closure

While the office will be open to receive service, mail, etc., I will not be available today for meetings due to illness.  I have contacted those of you with scheduled appointments.
Posted on February 5, 2013 .