The Lewis Leeper Blog

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    The DREAM Act

    The DREAM Act (acronym for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) is an American legislative proposal first introduced in the Senate on August 1, 2001, by Dick Durbin and Orrin Hatch. This bill would provide conditional permanent residency to certain illegal individuals of good moral character who graduate from U.S. high schools, arrived in the United States as minors, and lived in the country continuously for at least five years prior to the bill’s enactment. If they were to complete two years in the military or two years at a four-year institution of higher learning, they would obtain temporary […]

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    Which Should Come First, Bankruptcy or Divorce?

    Legally, married couples in Massachusetts can file bankruptcy jointly, while divorced couples can’t. Couples who are considering bankruptcy often find it financially advantageous to file for bankruptcy protection before divorcing. However, changes to the bankruptcy laws in 2005 made it more difficult for people above a certain income level to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Some couples might find themselves unable to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, whereas one spouse alone might be able to do so after the divorce.

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    Massachusetts Child Custody Rights in Paternity Testing

    In most states, mothers have the right to ask for paternity testing on behalf of a child against the alleged biological father. The court may order DNA paternity testing to determine if a man is the child’s biological father. After paternity is established, a mother has the right to seek child support from the biological father. A mother may also ask the court to order the biological father to obtain or share the costs of medical insurance for the child and pay a part of any uninsured medical expenses. A father’s child custody rights allow him to seek physical and […]

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    A material change in circumstances

    Eric Wettstein v. Sahara Fathi, 11-P-774 The Appeals Court supported the Probate Court judge’s decision that Father’s move to Florida constituted a material change in circumstances as a matter of law.  Father’s move made adherence to the original parenting schedule impossible.  On Father’s complaint for modification, Mother appealed the judgment as to the visitation schedule and trips abroad.  While Mother has sole legal and physical custody, the Appeals Court also upheld the decision permitting overnight visitation to occur in a hotel or at friends’ houses because father lived out of state.  The Appeals Court also upheld the decision requiring each […]

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    Some relatives do not have the same rights to visitation that grandparents have

    Recently, many states have passed laws that give grandparents certain visitation rights with a child after a divorce or after the death of the child’s parent. Predictably, this has given rise to questions about whether this right should be extended to other close relatives, such as aunts, uncles and cousins. The issue came up recently in Minnesota, when a woman asked for visitation rights with her niece – the daughter of her recently deceased identical twin sister. The woman argued that since Minnesota has a law that gives visitation rights to grandparents, it only made sense to include other family […]

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    The Challenge of Changing Children’s Names after Divorce

    After a couple divorced, the wife asked a court to change their two children’s last name to her maiden name. (The children had been given the husband’s last name at birth.) The judge agreed, saying that since the mother was the primary residential parent, it should be presumed that she was acting in the children’s best interests, and her decision should be respected. But the father appealed, and a higher court sided with him. The appeals court said that this result might make sense in the case of a child who was born out of wedlock. For instance, if a […]

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