Thursday, Nov. 12, 2009
From top to bottom:
Left to right:
The Hon. Randy J. Kaplan, Family Law Section Council member Marc E. Fitzgerald and accountant Marc Bello round out the conference with a "Federal Tax Issues in Family Law" panel.
Linda A. Ouellette is flanked by (left) judge James V. Menno and (right) Paul G. Farrell as they present "Issues of Interstate Custody." The panel was moderated by Amy T. Sollins.
Family and Probate Court Chief Justice Paula M. Carey and MBA Family Law Co-Chair Veronica J. Fenton.
This year's Family Law Conference was held at the Chatham Bars Inn.
First Justice Geoffrey A. Wilson, Regina M. Hurley, conference co-chair Thomas J. Barbar, Wendy J. Hickey and Judge John C. Stevens III (ret.) prepare for their "The Hague Convention and Issues of International Custody" panel.
Moderator Theresa B. Ramos is joined by Nima R. Eshghi of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders and Maura T. Healey from the Office of the Attorney General in Boston. The trio presented "DOMA: What Hurdles DOMA Place in the Way of Same-Sex Married Couples and Those Who are Divorcing."
Photos by Tricia Oliver.
Family Law Conference delivers
On Saturday, Nov. 7, the MBA Family Law Section hosted its
19th annual conference at the beautiful Chatham Bars Inn
on Cape Cod. The event included a networking reception on the
evening of Friday, Nov. 6 and a day-long series of educational
panel presentations on Saturday, Nov. 7.
Saturday's programming kicked off with Chief Justice of Probate
and Family Court Paula M. Carey delivering the "State of the
Probate and Family Court." "We cannot compromise due process
because of budget constraints," said Carey, who spoke to the
court's financial challenges throughout her 30-minute
She spoke to the newly implemented Uniform Probate Code in
Massachusetts, resulting from key MBA-sponsored legislation signed
into law in January by Gov. Deval Patrick. According to Carey, this
measure simplifies and improves Massachusetts probate and trust
law. Carey described the UPC as "preserving the liberty and
interests of some of the most vulnerable citizens" and explained
that great lengths have been made in planning for its
implementation, including a designated subcommittee on the issue
and tapping the expertise of other states with similar
She spoke to the court's efforts to expand upon pilot efforts of
Limited Assistance Representation in Norfolk, Suffolk and Hampden
"Good things happen in our court," said Carey as she spoke of the
Probate and Family Court's outreach efforts with the community. She
touched upon informational sessions held in area community colleges
and high schools as a way to "demystify" the process of the court
system. She also spoke to the work of Associate Justice Angela M.
Ordoñez in getting off the ground a tiered mentor program,
administered by the MBA and involving judges, attorneys, as well as
law, undergraduate and high school students.
She also thanked the group of volunteers who worked on the task
force to establish new child support guidelines. She specifically
praised the efforts of attorneys Fern Frolin and Marilynne Ryan for
their "extraordinary effort" in the process. She also commended
Chief Justice for Administration and Management Robert A. Mulligan
for his involvement and input during this project.
In addition, Carey explained that a Scheduling Task Force has
recently issued a report, which is out for comment from judges at
She then devoted a good portion of her remarks to the "white
elephant in the room," or the budget crisis with which the
Massachusetts court system is faced. Carey described the crisis as
"very real" and added, "we all need to work together to deal with
Despite drastic budget cuts in the trial courts, Carey said "our
caseload has increased," noting that 158,000 cases annually have
grown to 165,000 cases in the last fiscal year. Carey is working to
develop a plan to prioritize cases.
She called on the bar to help advocate for the courts amid the
budget crisis. "If there ever was a time when we need you to help,
the time is now," said Carey, urging the lawyers in attendance to
call upon their legislators to thwart further cuts to the third
branch of government.
Carey's remarks were followed by four highly informative panels
- Issues of Interstate Custody;
- The Hague Convention and Issues of International Custody;
- DOMA: What Hurdles Does DOMA Place in the Way of Same-Sex
Married Couples and Those Who are Divorcing; and
- Federal Tax Issues in Family Law.
The conference, attended by more than 140 attorneys from across
the commonwealth, was co-chaired by Family Law Section Co-chairs
Thomas J. Barbar and Veronica J. Fenton.