The Massachusetts Bar Association's sold-out 22nd Annual Family
Law Conference was held at the Cranwell Resort in Lenox at the end
of October. Delivering on its high expectations, the popular event
featured award presentations to state legislators, Probate and
Family Court Chief Justice Paula M. Carey's State of the Trial
Court and panel presentations on the latest in family law.
The conference's Oct. 26 opening reception featured MBA
President's Award presentations to Sen. Gale D. Candaras
(D-Wilbraham) and Rep. John Fernandes (D-Milford). The legislators
of honor co-chaired the task force pivotal in bringing to fruition
the long-awaited, new alimony laws enacted this past spring.
"The MBA applauds their far-reaching contributions to both the
legal community and the citizens of Massachusetts," said MBA
President Robert L. Holloway Jr., who was joined by MBA Past
President Denise Squillante to present the awards. Squillante
served on the task force led by Candaras and Fernandes.
The second day of conference programming began with Carey's
address. Her remarks touched upon the fiscal challenges endured by
the Massachusetts Trial Court over the last five years and provided
a more optimistic view of the court's current fiscal health. She
also spoke to the high level of collegiality from the Massachusetts
probate and family bar in the face of such fiscal constraint and
its resulting challenges.
"That doesn't exist in other states," she noted.
Among the many court initiatives discussed by Carey were the
recent conciliation programs in all counties, the interdisciplinary
settlement conference piloted in Norfolk and Plymouth counties, and
work being done to develop a screening tool for domestic violence
thanks to a Violence Against Women Act grant.
Carey, who has served as chief justice for five years, announced
that the Probate and Family Court's strategic planning process is
well underway and that the technical changes to the Massachusetts
Uniform Probate Code are now up on the court's website.
"Once the kinks are worked out, I think you'll be pleased with
it," she said.
The remainder of the conference featured panel discussions --
"The New Era of Alimony -- One Year After the Alimony Reform Act;"
"Demystifying the GAL Process - Explanation and Preparation and
Preparation for your Client;" and "Parenting Plans Focusing on the
Best Interests of the Children."
The conference was planned by Marc E. Fitzgerald and Family Law
Section Chair Michael I. Flores.