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Do you have questions about identifying clients who may have mental health issues? While many attorneys do not have a clinical or educational background that focuses on mental health issues, they often find themselves representing clients who suffer from mental health issues. This important program will feature Dr. Judith Edersheim of Massachusetts General Hospital, a joint J.D. and M.D., who will discuss representing and interacting with mentally ill individuals in the courthouse setting. Recently, Dr. Edersheim spoke to Massachusetts judges on this topic. At this program she will discuss practical skills and strategies to use when representing clients with ...
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The FDA had a digital health banner day on December 7, announcing one final guidance and two draft guidance documents (with a 60-day comment period). Collectively, these guidances cover a range of digital health issues, and it is worth reading   FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb’s statement   about them as well as each individual document: Clinical and Patient Decision Support Software  (CDS and PDS) (Draft) Changes to Existing Medical Software Policies Resulting From Section 3060 of the 21st Century Cures Act  (Cures Act) (Draft) Software as a Medical Device: Clinical Evaluation  (SaMD) (Final) These publications come as part of the FDA’s ...
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HealthcareIT News outlines the case in which Chicago-based Saint Anthony sued Leapfrog in November for giving the hospital an inaccurate grade.  Leapfrog in its response claims the grade is based on self-submitted data the hospital failed to review.  The Leapfrog Group is an independent, non-profit healthcare watchdog, that ranks hospitals for patient safety and other measures. Below is a link to this article. HealthcareIT News Article: Leapfrog Lawsuit
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As printed in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly on December 4, 2017 Over the week of October 16-20, 2017, lawyers and dispute resolution professional celebrated national Conflict Resolution Week.  The Massachusetts Bar Association's Dispute Resolution Section presented five events with different focuses in different parts of the state.  More than 400 people attended, including judges, lawyers, mediators, arbitrators, students, parents, teachers, coaches, special masters, and interested members of the public.  Governor Charlie Baker issued a Proclamation recognizing October 19 as Dispute Resolution Day in the Commonwealth. The week's events focused on court-connected, ...
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One week remains for the 2018 Medicare Open Enrollment process. Medicare Part A (inpatient hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance) beneficiaries may opt to enroll into a privately managed Medicare Advantage plan, e.g., health maintenance organizations (HMOs) and preferred provider organizations (PPOs) or private fee-for-service plans. Medicare is a federal healthcare program that benefits seniors and certain Congressionally recognized needy populations, such as persons living with a disability regardless of age. Although exceptions may apply for additional Medicare Advantage plan changes, as permitted by law under special enrollment or certain special ...
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“Marital station, when?” In this entry, we will begin discussing how the   Young   case determines “need” in the context of alimony. We have long known that need is a relative term. “The standard of need is measured by the ‘station’ of the parties -- by what is required to maintain a standard of living comparable to the one enjoyed during the marriage.”   Grubert v. Grubert, 20 Mass. Ap.   Ct. 811, 819 (1985). This is sensible, given that marital station is fueled by the parties’ financial resources, generally income from employment or self-employment. For one couple, subsistence may characterize the marital standard; while country clubs, international ...
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The House GOP seems to think that repealing §215 of the Internal Revenue Code is a good idea. We have long believed that there are probably too many alimony-paying lawyers in Congress to let this day ever come. It probably won’t, but if it does, it will plunge the Alimony Reform Act (ARA) (eff. 3.1.12) into crisis. Either way, the legislature needs to respond. M.G.L., ch. 208, §48 defines “alimony” as: “the payment of support from a spouse, who has the ability to pay, to a spouse in need of support for a reasonable length of time, under a court order”. Nothing about tax impact. The drafters, like us, clearly took deductibility under federal and state law for ...
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What did the court decide and why; and might it have decided differently? Here, we delve into the SJC’s analysis in   Young v. Young. Young was high income case, in which the husband’s executive compensation fueled a persistently rising lifestyle (“affluent, upper class”) for the parties during a 24-year marriage. Both parties sought fixed sum alimony in the wife’s favor, but at broadly disparate levels. After trial, the Probate and Family Court judge concluded that the wife’s sworn representation of the costs required to maintain the marital station (i.e., her “need”) was unreliable; and that the husband’s compensation scheme (i.e., his capacity ...
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We introduce the subject that the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) addressed in   Young v. Young   by examining the kinds of orders from which the case arose: variable or self-adjusting support orders. Here, we address the basics. What are self-adjusting support orders?   They are alimony orders expressed by a formula rather than a sum. The payor computes alimony periodically by applying a percentage to his or her defined income. Sometimes, different (usually declining) percentages apply to different tiers of income, and increasingly, thanks to M.G.L., ch, 208, § 53(b) (of the Alimony Reform Act (ARA) of 2011, eff. 3.1.12) the percentage(s) may apply to the ...
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With the long-awaited case Young v. Young, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) has revisited the important question of when may a trial court originate self-adjusting support orders, a subject that we have addressed here twice before. See,   http://levinedisputeresolution.com/docs/Variable-Support-orders-3-28-16.pdf   and   http://levinedisputeresolution.com/divorce-mediation-blog/need-and-variable-support-orders-they-are-not-mutually-exclusive . While the case does not address the situation where there is insufficient income to keep both parties living at the former marital standard of living, it does review and elaborate on existing precedent. ...
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With this month’s U.S. Senate passage of the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act, pursuant to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Reauthorization Act of 2017 (S. 934; H.R. 2430), legislators validate what consumers have long acknowledged -- the increased frequency of hearing loss and its significant impact on an individual’s safety, health, and quality of life, including access to medical care. https://www.warren.senate.gov/files/documents/3_21_17_Hearing_Aids_Bill_Text.pdf Section 520 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. 360j) was amended, effective 8/18/17, to regulate OTC hearing aids and permit direct access by consumers without prescription ...
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NEW CHILD SUPPORT GUIDELINES BRING CHANGE TO PAYING FOR COLLEGE EXPENSES Posted on   August 23, 2017 The new Child Support Guidelines (Guidelines) include a new section to deal exclusively with college or other post-secondary educational expenses. While the Guidelines officially go into effect on September 15th, they are already being used by attorneys, mediators and others. At the outset, the Guidelines remind litigants that the divorce judge has discretion to order or not order a parent to contribute to college costs. In other words, it is not a given that a parent will be ordered to pay for all or part of college expenses. ...
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The Massachusetts Bar Association recently endorsed a set of “Civility Guidelines for Family Law Attorneys”. It is amazing to us that in 2017 this project should have been necessary, but we have no doubt of it; and the ten points are both simple and profound. Moreover, these tenets don’t just apply to the courtroom. They are equally applicable to the arbitration or mediation room, the four-way meeting, attorney correspondence, and the ongoing processing of every case, including negotiation. In truncated form the ten commandments of civility are: Dress appropriately. Be on time and prepared. Treat people with courtesy and respect. Wait your turn ...
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New Child Support Guidelines Pay Lower Support With More Parenting Time – No More Posted on August 8, 2017 By:  Anthony C. Adamopoulos The current “old” Child Support Guidelines provided a separate child support calculation where, for example, the father shared “financial responsibility and parenting time” of greater than one-third but less than fifty percent of the time. This usually meant that if, for example, the father was with his children more than one- third of their time he was going to pay less child support than the father who is with his children about a third of the time. This adjustment is dropped under the new Guidelines ...
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We have been following the saga of the Obama-era proposed regulations to tighten practices in valuing family-controlled businesses, which spent much of last year plus in public scrutiny and commentary. The proposed rules have been a lightning rod for valuation experts and family business representatives alike, since they would pretty much eradicate discounts, establish minimum valuations and increase federal tax receipts upon sales of these closely held-entities during lifetime, and upon death, for those fortunate few who qualify for estate tax liability. Now, courtesy of presidential Executive Order 13789 (April 21, 2017), the United States Treasury Department ...
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Recently, we attended the Massachusetts Bar Association’s inaugural Dispute Resolution Section symposium, and the annual AFCC meeting, each in Boston. Both programs featured extended discussions of mediation involving a “fourth party”, as in, the two parties, the mediator and technology. We expected the focus to be running   divorce mediations   with an absent party or two, attending virtually by Skype or FaceTime, or even the good old-fashioned speaker phone. Most of us have done a bit of this and addressed the limitations imposed by the lack of eye-to-eye contact and the sense that the person on the screen or behind the phone is actually checking his email, ...
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Five years and many appellate cases later, the Alimony Reform Act (eff. March 1, 2012) (“ARA”) now has some meat on its bones. The more we work with it, however, more scenarios emerge that we had not previously considered; and we wonder if the drafters did either. One aspect we have been pondering is how critical elements of the statute address the scenario where former spouses “trade places” after divorce. In other words, the parties’ earnings change inversely, sufficiently to make the initial alimony payor a putative payee. In an era of predominantly two earner (former) households, changes of relative fortunes are not only possible, but they are, in fact, ...
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Representative Markey of the 9th Bristol District has filed a bill to permit modification of a judgment on child care and custody matters only, without the need to file a new action. It contains provisions for a motion filing fee, preliminary hearing and discovery. The bill provides for evidentiary hearings, but only if requested by a party or set by the court as an exercise of discretion. Temporary orders may enter, mirroring the standards of M.G.L., ch. 208, §28. We wonder why this bill and why now? It dispenses with the due process requirement of a modification complaint and encourages expedited proceedings, but is that a good idea? Current practice requires ...
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Two aspects of the a recent “unreported” decision of a Massachusetts Appels Court panel, are worthy of note, and provide important cautions to judges, family law arbitrators and drafters, alike. Judicial restraint . We don’t recall ever seeing this phrase about the divorce court’s exercise of broad discretion before. In McClelland v. McClelland, the parties provided in their separation agreement that the husband would pay 75% of the children’s secondary school expense. In a later modification action, they agreed that each parent would pay 1/3 of college costs. In a second modification, neither party sought review of either education term, focusing ...
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Having private or public health insurance does not eliminate consumer medical debt because plan design, provider price variation, and patients who experience transitions in coverage, for example, also impinge on an individual’s ability to timely pay for medical care. In Massachusetts, the Special Commission on Provider Price Variation suggests that residents of the Commonwealth would benefit from improved strategic plans to combat unsustainable healthcare costs, to address price variation among providers, and to resolve existing market dynamics. See The Special Commission on Provider Price Variation, Price Variation Report (March 15, 2017). Available at: ...
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