Family law attorneys and judges are, at their core, problem
solvers devoted to unraveling the most intractable intra-family
dilemmas. It can be exhausting work for the most committed. As a
respite for harried practitioners, the Massachusetts Bar
Association's Family Law Section Council hosts the 23rd Annual
Family Law Conference. At the conference, judges, attorneys and
other professionals socialize, learn the latest developments in
this multi-faceted area of the law and exchange ideas.
The conference will be held at the Chatham Bars Inn in Chatham,
beginning at 1 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 1, and ending at 1 p.m. on
Saturday, Nov. 2. Responding to feedback from prior conferences,
the 2013 conference begins on Friday afternoon and ends with a
luncheon on Saturday. Four substantive programs, each two hours
long, are planned. Unchanged is the conference's Friday evening
cocktail reception, which is always a convivial affair.
Friday will begin with a program exploring how to obtain
electronic evidence and how to get it admitted into evidence. "With
the introduction of electronic mail, instant messaging, texting
and, of course, the explosion of social media, our society's
methods of communication has changed radically over the last 10
years," says Conference Co-chair Michael I. Flores, of Michael I.
Flores LLC in Orleans. "As a result, family law attorneys and
judges grapple with the relevance, authenticity and admissibility
of electronically-conveyed information."
Friday's second session will focus on the relationship between
child support and alimony. "In 2011 and 2013, there were changes to
the alimony statute and the Child Support Guidelines," explained
Maureen McBrien, the session's moderator. "Our panel will examine
these changes, how child support and alimony intersect when
establishing and modifying support orders and how judges are
approaching support issues in child support and alimony
Chief Justice Angela M. Ordoñez will deliver the keynote remarks
Saturday morning, giving the traditional "State of the Probate and
Family Court" Address. It is Chief Justice Ordoñez's first year at
the helm of the Probate and Family Court, and her speech will offer
audience members a glimpse of where she intends to steer the court
during her tenure.
Saturday's programs will commence with a panel discussion about
allocating gifts and inheritances when the distribution of the
marital estate is in dispute. The audience will hear from judges
and lawyers on the "best practices" for litigating these issues
where statutes and case law do not provide clear guidelines and the
trial court retains considerable discretion over the disposition of
this special category of assets.
The conference's final session will be a "dos and don'ts"
presentation offering practical tips on how to draft effective
post-trial findings. The session will be led by a panel of Probate
and Family Court judges who will discuss what each looks for in the
proposed findings and rationales received in the wake of
Conference Co-chair Jennifer Clapp said, "This conference, like
the others, will give practitioners and judges the opportunity to
expand their understanding of current issues in the company of
other committed problem solvers."