Alan Among Team of Attorneys Scoring a Major Victory
Alan’s efforts led a team of three attorneys who navigated their way through three different courts to secure a favorable ruling for a client in a case that involved a former domestic couple that had purchased a home together.
Alan represented the woman, whose relationship with then-boyfriend ultimately came apart. The boyfriend moved out of the house, and Alan’s client subsequently filed a “petition for partition” with the Probate Court, seeking a sale of the house and an “equitable” division of the proceeds, as permitted under Massachusetts law. What made the case interesting and challenging from a legal standpoint was that Alan’s client had put up all the cash equity to buy the house, while the boyfriend had been the sole signer on the promissory note that was secured by a mortgage (which both signed).
When the relationship came apart, the parties signed an agreement whereby the now-former boyfriend agreed to continue to make the mortgage payments (as he had done throughout their joint ownership of the home). However, within a few months of signing the agreement, the former boyfriend (an attorney) stopped making the payments on both mortgages. Alan sued in Superior Court on the woman’s behalf, claiming that this action constituted not only breach of contract, but also intentional infliction of emotional distress. To obtain a security against any judgment his client might obtain in that case, Alan secured an injunction barring the ex-boyfriend from transferring another house he owned in a neighboring town.
Within about four months of filing the Superior Court suit, the ex-boyfriend filed bankruptcy, but not before recording a homestead on the other house that he owned (a homestead protects up to $500,000 in equity from creditors). During a deposition in the partition case, Alan secured the boyfriend’s admission that he had never used the property as a principal residence, and that even after vacating the house he co-owned with Alan’s client, he failed to move into that house, even though his mother lived there and the house had a spare bedroom.
In the bankruptcy court the trustee overseeing the case sought to void the homestead on the grounds that in his deposition testimony and through other admissions, the ex-boyfriend had made it clear that he never intended to use the other house as his principal residence, a prerequisite to a valid homestead. The trustee hired an attorney, who, working with Alan and a bankruptcy specialist hired by his client, prepared evidence to use at trial against the boyfriend. A trial was recently conducted in the Bankruptcy Court, and the court declared the homestead void, thus giving Alan’s client the elevated status of a secured creditor as to her claims against the ex-boyfriend.