Criminal Law

I've been arrested for a crime, how can you help?

Depending upon what crime you have been charged with, you will have many options. Our experienced criminal law attorneys can work with you to insure that as little damage is done to your record as possible. When a police stop and search is an issue, it is imperative to explore whether all proper procedures were followed to insure that your Constitutional rights were not violated. At Graeber, Davis & Cantwell, our attorneys will research and investigate every aspect of the crime charged and the possible outcomes, thereby providing you with competent and effective legal assistance. If, after our investigation and consultation with you, it is determined that proceeding to trial is your best option, our attorneys will use their strong trial tactics and strategies to provide you with the best defense possible. We recognize that being charged with a crime can be a very frightening experience. The uncertainty of one’s future is never something to be taken lightly. At Graeber, Davis & Cantwell, we strive to provide your case the individualized attention that it requires, while at the same time providing a prompt, responsive and cost-effective defense.

Estate Planning

I have an elderly parent who needs someone to look over their legal and medical matters, what can I do?

A power of attorney will provide a person with the ability to oversee and direct the legal affairs of another. This is often done for a parent who is too ill to look after those matters themselves. It gives their child the ability to make important decisions for them, when they can’t do it on their own. A health care proxy will provide a child with the authority to assist an ill or inform parent with important medical decisions, especially if the parent is not lucid and can not make those decision on their own. At Graeber, Davis & Cantwell, we recognize that it can be very difficult dealing with a parent whom you’ve looked up to all their life and who now needs to look up to you. We can assist you in preparing these documents, to insure that your parent gets the proper attention and care they deserve, while insuring that someone will look after their legal and medical issues when they can no longer do it alone.

I am trying to establish a long term financial plan, and want to leave my assets for my children and grandchildren, what are my options?

Many people use a will to direct where their assets will go when they pass away. Without a will, a person is deemed to have died intestate. A person who dies intestate will have their assets divided to relatives by a particular schedule according to state statute. A will can prevent the uncertainty associated with the application of this statute to your assets, and allows you to decide who gets what, rather than the state. Other times, people will use a trust to insure that their children will have some assets both in school and beyond. A trust will make it very difficult for creditors to take those assets away from your children or other beneficiaries. At Graeber, Davis & Cantwell, whether you are looking to insure that your assets go to specific individuals upon your death, or are seeking to insure that your children will have income without relying upon them to manage the principal, we can assist you in drafting these documents to insure that your wishes are carried out.

Family Law

Who will pay for college?

At Graeber, Davis & Cantwell, are aware that college costs are a troublesome issue, and the answer is far from clear. You may both agree to share the costs in some equitable way depending on your respective financial circumstances at the time. It is not a good idea to commit yourself to a specific percentage or amount unless the costs are certain and the funds are not in doubt. However, a vague agreement may have to be litigated when the time to pay up arrives. Perhaps the separation agreement could contain language that you and your ex-spouse begin negotiations at the start of the child’s junior year in high school to avoid “under the gun” agreements the following year. The court does have authority to enter orders until the child reaches age 23, although what financial arrangements will be ordered varies from judge to judge.

What happens to our health insurance?

As far as Massachusetts domestic relations law goes, the minor children will remain covered by present health insurance. The divorced spouse also is covered at no extra cost until such time as the insured remarries. At that time, the divorced spouse may continue on the plan, but it is usually specified that the divorced spouse will pay for the additional cost. However, this statute, G.L. c. 175, 110I, does not apply if the employer is a self-insurer. In that case, the federal COBRA regulations apply. They provide short-term coverage, usually 18 months, at an immediate and substantial cost to the divorced spouse. (Health insurance is an increasingly important issue: the cost is escalating, and fewer parties have low-cost, continued coverage.) If alimony is awarded, judges must also require that the obligor obtain or reimburse the spouse for the cost of health insurance without reducing the alimony award. G.L. c. 208, 34. Q: Who will pay for college?

Can my spouse get my inherited property when our assets are divided?

In most divorce cases, probably not. Particularly if the marriage is short, most judges like to leave family assets with that spouse but may compensate in dividing other assets viewed as “joint.” Because all assets, however acquired, whenever acquired and regardless of who owns them are by statute subject to division, do not assume that any asset is completely safe from division. The court will use an “equitable” guideline (what is the most fair division among the parties) as opposed to an equal (strict 50-50) division.

I know that my spouse will try to hide assets, what can be done?

As your legal counsel, we can act quickly to “freeze” known assets on an ex parte (without notice to the other party) basis and restrain your spouse from selling or hiding assets; appraise assets to prevent them from undervaluation; check sources of income from bank records, tax returns, credit card statements, etc.; and consider lifestyle and expenditures to impute income. However, if your spouse is very secretive and very determined, discovery will be costly and still something may slip between the cracks.

Can I date someone else during my divorce?

When dating after a following your divorce, use common sense and be discreet. If there are no children and you are separated, it probably will not prejudice the court against you, but it may anger your spouse and make negotiations more difficult. If you have children and custody is at issue, do not date if you are the custodial parent, at least not while in the presence of the children. If you do not have custody but do have visitation, your companion should not be with you when you have custody of the children. Quite frankly, a “significant other” of either parent is upsetting to children, particularly in the early stages of separation. Many judges will order that no third-party companion be present when the children are with you.

What about support for the children and spouse?

Child support in Massachusetts is mandated pursuant to the child support guidelines and can be calculated quickly based on your and your spouse’s gross incomes. Alimony can be awarded for any duration, including life, depending on the circumstances. Alimony awards are usually a combination of the needs of the parties and a percentage of the obligor’s income. Wage assignments, if the obligor is employed, are now mandatory for child support (unless suspended by the agreement of the recipient) and prevent nonpayment. If payment is in arrears (i.e., your spouse is not paying alimony and/or child support in violation of a court order to do so), you can file a complaint for contempt with the court.

What about custody of the children?

Typically, when there are minor children involved in a divorce they will often remain with the primary caretaker parent. However, this is not absolute, and the court can award custody to either parent depending on the “best interests of the child(ren).” Getting sole legal custody, where one parent makes all of the decisions regarding the upbringing of the child, is difficult and does not automatically convey the right to permanently remove the children from the Commonwealth. Getting sole physical custody, where the child(ren) live with one parent and have visitation with another, is far more common. Where a divorce can be difficult enough on all parties involved, both parents should take the time to determine where the children’s best living arrangement would be in order to minimize the disruption in their lives. Many times, with school, after-school activities, homework, etc., it is often in the best interests of the child(ren) that they are not constantly moving from one parent?s house to another; instead spending the week with one parent and the occasional weekend with the other.

Can my spouse prevent the divorce? Will I have to go to court?

No, your spouse cannot stop the divorce. Divorce is unilateral, i.e., you cannot be compelled to stay married to someone. Your spouse can delay the divorce, however, through various tactics and strategies. Keep in mind though that many divorces do not involve a trial. Most divorce cases settle, as they should. Trials are costly both in terms of emotions and finances and should be only a final resort to determine serious disputes. At Graeber, Davis & Cantwell, we strive to provide our clients involved in a divorce the most timely, cost-effective service while insuring that they are thoroughly represented in both asset division and child custody issues.

How long will it take me to get divorced in Massachusetts?

The length of time it will take to finalize your divorce cannot be predicted with certainty because a lot will depend on the behavior of your spouse (and yourself, of course). If one or both of you is unreasonable or litigious, the case will take longer. Unfortunately, the behavior of the spouses’ lawyers may also lengthen the process. At Graeber, Davis & Cantwell, we work to insure that you receive thorough service without excessive costs. Keep in mind though that, while an uncontested divorce may take a month, a divorce with contested assets or child custody issues case can a year or two.

How much will my divorce cost me?

The cost of the divorce will depend in large part on how much the parties can agree. If there is agreement with regard to division of assets and custody/care of any children, it will cost much less. If one of the parties is unwilling to cooperate and a lengthy legal process is required, it can take much longer. Many firms, including ours, charge for an initial consultation, but each lawyer may decide on a case-by-case basis as he or she wishes. (We will always inform our potential clients before he/she meets with us whether they will be charged for an initial consultation) As for the divorce itself, some lawyers may charge a flat fee, but this is unusual because it is difficult to say with certainty what the total costs will be. We can discuss certain cost parameters and hourly rate, but, as mentioned previously, your spouse’s behavior will have an impact on the amount of time required to sufficiently resolve your case and, therefore, cost.

Where Can I Get Information on Receiving SSA Benefits On My Ex-Spouse's Record me?

Personal Injury

I am owed money in a business venture and the other part(ies) refuse to pay, what can I do?

Many times a simple demand letter from an attorney will get the other side talking. However, if they refuse to pay, litigation may be required. At Graeber, Davis & Cantwell, we can assist you in getting what you are owed, whether it is through negotiation with the other side or through a lawsuit.

I have been injured using a defective product, what are my legal options?

When a business places an item “upon the stream of commerce” in Massachusetts, they are making certain implied warranties that the product will be safe for normal use. When that warranty fails, and you are injured, you may be able to get compensation for those injuries. At Graeber, Davis & Cantwell, our civil litigation attorneys will work to insure that you are adequately compensated for your losses associated with the use of a defective product, including pain and suffering.

I have been injured in an automobile accident, what are my legal options?

Depending upon the severity of your injuries and the liability of persons involved, you may have several options. If the other driver was at fault, you may seek to claim compensation through their insurance. If their insurance does not cover your losses, you can seek a monetary settlement or file suit. At Graeber, Davis & Cantwell, we can assist you in throughout the litigation process, to insure that you are adequately compensated for your losses.

Real Estate

I am a landlord and my tenant has stopped paying rent, what can I do?

Despite your inclination to do so, you cannot simply eject your tenant. There are several steps required in order to effectuate a proper and legal eviction. At Graeber, Davis & Cantwell, our landlord/tenant attorneys can work with you to help you reclaim your owed rent, or, if necessary, take all of the steps required to evict that non-paying tenant as quickly as possible.

I am looking to expand the size of my house, what do I do?

Depending upon the location of your house, its size, distance from street and neighbors and the community in which you live, you will need to deal with several local agencies to renovate your home. Our attorneys are experienced in the areas of land use and zoning law, and can assist you in your interaction with the planning board, conservation, zoning board of appeals, etc., throughout your project.

My landlord has refused to fix a serious problem in my apartment, what can I do?

Many times tenants have a minor defect in their apartment (i.e., paint peeling, burnt out light bulb). These are often the tenant’s responsibilities to repair/replace while they occupy the unit. However, if a serious hazard develops (the heat fails, the water does not run) the landlord is under an obligation following notice by the tenant to make timely repairs. Failure to do so, rendering the apartment inhabitable, is a serious issue for which the landlord will be liable. At Graeber, Davis & Cantwell, we can assist you to equitably resolve your issue with your landlord.