From top to bottom:
Chief Justice of the Probate and Family Court Angela M. Ordoñez speaks to 2013 MBA Family Law Conference attendees
From left: MBA President Douglas K. Sheff with Family Law Conference Co-Chairs Jennifer R. Clapp and Michael I. Flores
From left: Susan A. Huettner, MBA President-elect Marsha V. Kazarosian, Probate and Family Court Associate Justice Arthur C. Ryley and Patricia A. O'Connell
From left: Probate and Family Court First Justice Robert A. Scandurra, Probate and Family Court Associate Justice David G. Sacks, Probate and Family Court Associate Justice Katherine A. Field, Denise Marie Fitzgerald
From left: Family Law Conference Co-Chair Michael I. Flores, David Sun, Probate and Family Court First Justice Randy J. Kaplan, Paul M. Kane, Timothy J. Conlon
Photos by John Pregmon
The 23rd Annual Family Law Conference took place on
Nov. 1 and Nov. 2, at the Chatham Bars Inn. This year's conference
was co-chaired by Family Law Section Chair Michael I. Flores and
Vice Chair Jennifer R. Clapp, and was attended by over 200 family
law practitioners and judges. The conference featured a number of
excellent panelists and the inaugural address on the state of the
court by Probate and Family Court Chief Justice Angela M.
On Nov. 1, Flores welcomed attendees to the conference and
introduced the first group of panelists, who discussed e-discovery
issues. Panelist Timothy J. Conlon noted the "new net" is more
cloud-based and technological advances lead to a tremendous amount
of data that can be retrieved by either party in litigation. Tips
for acquiring this information and effective client communication
were provided. David Sun presented appropriate ways to select
technological experts, and the differences between them, noting
that if one's "case is a car wreck, [you] find a mechanic to put it
back together -- that's the type of expert you want to retrieve
electronic information: the 'computer forensic.'" Other session
highlights included a discussion of social media surveillance,
forensic collection, chain of custody and privacy concerns.
Maureen C. McBrien began the second session by discussing the
implications of the new alimony and child support statutes and
updates to the law. The discussion included common household and
co-habitation language as well as types of relief that can be
obtained. Additionally, Judge James V. Menno cautioned attendees on
their use of the "percentage of parenting time" when conducting a
child support proceeding.
The first day of the conference concluded with a welcome
reception at The Beach House Grill on the edge of Aunt Lydia's
Ordoñez started day two of the family law conference with the
traditional "State of the Probate and Family Court." address.
Ordoñez thanked conference attendees for the countless number of
volunteer hours family law practitioners give saying, "there is no
greater group who give back to the bar. Thank you."
"I feel fortunate to be Chief Justice at this point in time,"
said Ordoñez. "I have one mission: justice with dignity and
Ordoñez's four goals for the court are to reduce delays, use
technology to enhance access to the court, increase uniformity of
process, and fathers' engagement in children's lives. She concluded
her address by reminding participants to show civility and courtesy
to one another, as there is no room for incivility when helping
An engaging panel discussion on inheritance and trust issues
followed Ordoñez's keynote address and was moderated by Susan
Huettner. Joining Huettner was MBA President-elect Marsha V.
Kazarosian, Patricia O'Connell, and Judge Arthur C. Ryley. The
panel reviewed the importance of dividing and identifying assets
and factors in distributing those assets fairly and reasonably.
"Work with your brother or sister counsel to get a statement of
undisputed facts in order to determine what trusts and what money
went where," said Ryley. "This is helpful to the court and
beneficial to both parties."
The day concluded with a nuts and bolts presentation on how to
write effective findings. Joined by Judge Robert A. Scandurra,
Judge David G. Sacks and Judge Katherine A. Field, Denise
Fitzgerald lead a substantive discussion on the kind of information
practitioners should provide judges to help them make
determinations regarding alimony, child support and the value of
the marital estate.