Issue February 2011

Filing of the Alimony Reform Act of 2011

The end of this year will mark my 28th year of practicing law in the Probate and Family Court. Family law is one of the most dynamic areas of practice, with major changes in the law seen in the last three decades.

Family law involves some of the most emotional and difficult cases for practitioners to work on, as they involve assisting families in crisis to move forward in their lives. These cases often deal with the sensitive issues of how to share children, how to protect someone from domestic violence and how to have two families come from one and financially survive, often when the family had financial difficulty living under one roof.

Protecting courthouses’ ‘lifeblood

On average, 45,000 people enter the Massachusetts courts each day, starting and ending their court visits in the office of the clerk-magistrate.

For members of the public visiting the Boston Municipal Court, that usually means they will run into Daniel J. Hogan, who has served as the court's clerk-magistrate for 11 years and manages the largest clerks' office in the commonwealth.
"The clerk-magistrate is an integral cog in the wheels of justice," said Hogan. "Every piece of paper in the courthouse begins with a clerk - small claims, search warrants, making determinations of probable cause - we perform every function that a judge does with the exception of saying 'Guilty.'"

Large class of freshman legislators to tackle budget, probation, alimony in 2011-12

The 187th General Court was sworn in on Jan. 5, including an unusually large group of 47 freshman legislators.

The coming months will indicate how the turnover of nearly one-quarter of the Legislature will impact the composition of legislative committees. These committees are charged with reviewing the approximately 6,000 bills that will be filed during the 2011-12 session. It is likely that a significant amount of committees will be infused with new blood, which could mean a new start for legislation that has languished for years.