Divorces Require You to Show Your Cards … Don’t Knowingly Omit or Hide Assets

On Tuesday, February 14, 2023, the Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts issued a landmark decision to disbar attorney James Hayes, a practitioner at City Hayes & Dissette PC. The case highlights a series of egregious ethical violations, leading to his disbarment. We will delve into the details of the case, exploring the specific changes and their implications, with a focus on how such misconduct can reverberate in the realm of family law.

In 2013, Randal J. LaMarche, Jr. won a one-million dollar lottery prize. He opted to receive a lump-sum payment which came out to be $455,000 after taxes. He used his winnings to purchase a new Dodge pickup truck, a used corvette, and a motorcycle. After learning of LaMarche’s winnings, Julie Kenney, his ex-partner and mother to his three children, filed a complaint for modification of child support to increase the child support amount.

During this proceeding, the Probate and Family Court issued a Temporary Order which prohibited him from “spending, transferring, assigning, pledging, or in any other way disposing of any lottery winnings he has received.”

LaMarche began consulting with attorney James Hayes, who advised him to conceal his lottery winnings from Kenney by claiming a prior verbal agreement with his brother, Jason Prestia, to share the money on a 50/50 basis. Additionally, per Hayes’ advice, LaMarche began depositing money into a trust in his brother’s name.

In family law cases, where emotions often run high, the integrity of legal proceedings is very important. Attorneys are expected to act as advocates for their clients within the bounds of the law. The disbarment order sheds light on instances where Hayes knowingly made false statements and failed to disclose material facts. Such deception and dishonesty strike at the core of an attorney’s duty to uphold the truth and maintain the integrity of legal proceedings.

In family law matters, honesty and transparency are critical. Clients rely on their attorneys to provide accurate information and advice to make informed decisions.

The disbarment of James Hayes serves as a stark reminder for family law practitioners to uphold the highest ethical standards in their practice. Key lessons include:

  1. Transparent Handling of Finances

Family law attorneys must transparently handle financial matters, ensuring that clients are aware of and understand the legal implications of financial decisions, especially when family assets are involved.

  1. Adherence to Court Orders

This case underscores the importance of respecting and adhering to court orders. Family law practitioners should be vigilant in ensuring compliance with court directives to maintain the integrity of the legal system.

  1. Avoiding Conflicts of Interest

Family dynamics often involve multiple parties with potentially conflicting interests. Attorneys must navigate these complexities ethically, avoiding situations that may lead to conflicts of interest or compromise the best interests of their clients.

If you or someone you know is going through a divorce or modification action, call us at 978-637-2048 or email info@heralawgroup.com

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