The Massachusetts Bar Association held its 16th Annual Family Law Conference Oct. 13-14, at the Chatham Bars Inn on beautiful Cape Cod. The theme of this year's conference was "Show Me the Money: Financial Issues in Family Law Practice," and featured 13 judges and a range of seasoned attorneys and accountants. This year's conference was a remarkable success, with over 200 attorneys and students in attendance.
Friday night's cocktail reception, co-sponsored by the Barnstable County Bar Association, was a big hit with the attendees. On Saturday, four panels tackled a variety of topics related to finances in family law, including: finding hidden income; means of recovering assets; preventing dissipation via attachments; changes and hidden traps in tax law; and tips on litigating alimony.
The fifth and final event of the day was a session to train attorneys for the upcoming Limited Assistance Representation Pilot Programs, which begin in Suffolk and Hampden counties on Nov. 1. This panel discussion, featuring Hon Edward M. Ginsburg and other prominent leaders in the MBA, sparked the most dynamic dialogue of the day amongst both the panel members and audience members about the pros and cons of the pilot program.
MBA Vice president Denise Squillante, a member of the Limited Assistance Representation Advisory Committee, moderated the panel discussion. She was struck by the feedback that she and the rest of the committee received from the attorneys in the audience. "The Family Law Conference historically has a blend of more sophisticated, cutting edge issues, such as the Limited Assistance Representation and the discussion about alimony guidelines," noted Squillante. "We received valuable feedback from the attorneys that will be carried back to the advisory group."
Veronica Fenton, Family Law Section Council member and moderator of the panel "Tax Law for the Family Law Attorney," was impressed by the caliber of the panels: "We were fortunate to hear from some of the best minds in family law, as well as the judges who work hard to improve the quality of justice in their increasingly busy courts. This conference is a great opportunity for the bench and the bar to work together, learn together and socialize together, which improves the quality of all of our work."
If you are a practitioner who is interested in the financial aspects of family law but were not able to attend the conference in Chatham, be on the lookout for similar MBA events. "We plan to repeat parts of the conference throughout the state as shorter education programs for our members who were not able to join us in Chatham," said Family Law Section Council Chair Fern Frolin. "Looking forward to next year, our conference will be in Lenox, as we are trying to initiate a more formalized program of swinging back and forth between the eastern and western parts of the state."