The Annual Family Law Conference returns to Chatham on Oct. 17
and 18. Children are the focus of this year's two-day event, which
attracts judges and lawyers from across the state to the Chatham
Bars Inn. Now in its 24th year, the conference will feature a
keynote address by Amy Lyn Blake, justice of the Appeals
Court; the Annual State of the Court by Chief Justice of the
Probate and Family Court Angela M. Ordoñez; a pre-conference
roundtable on developments in alimony jurisprudence; and four
child-focused substantive panels.
"Over the last several years, the Annual Family Law Conference has
included panels on a variety of important topics without a unifying
theme. However, this year the Conference Committee decided to focus
all four substantive panels on the most important aspect of a
family law case: the children involved and how the law addresses
their protection and needs," said Jennifer R. Clapp, the conference
and Family Law Section Council chairwoman.
While child-related programs will dominate the conference, the
constantly evolving alimony landscape will be mapped as well. The
conference commences at noon on Friday with an alimony roundtable.
Moderator Kimberley J. Joyce, of Boston's Lee and Rivers, intends
to steer the discussion through a thoughtful analysis of the
evolving implementation of the Alimony Reform Act of 2011. The
roundtable panelists include Alimony Task Force members, as well as
attorneys who have taken the act up on appeal.
After the alimony roundtable, Blake will deliver a keynote address
on the changes she has seen in family law practice during her
tenure as a Probate and Family Court judge. Blake recently joined
the Appeals Court after six years on the Probate and Family Court
After lunch, the focus will turn to the representation of children
in high-conflict cases. Joyce will moderate a panel discussion on
representing children, including the responsibilities arising from
an attorney's appointment as counsel for a child, how the attorney
fulfills that role and how to engage with a client who is a
Friday's final panel explores the application of the Child Support
Guidelines through the use of hypotheticals. Tom Barbar, of Deutsch
Williams Brooks DeRensis & Holland, P.C., will lead a
discussion between Edward G. Boyle III, first justice, Plymouth
Probate and Family Court; Anne M. Geoffrion, first justice, Hampden
Probate and Family Court; Anthony R. Nesi, first justice, Bristol
Probate and Family Court; and Gregory V. Roach, associate justice,
Worcester Probate and Family Court.
Capping off the day, the MBA will host a reception at the Chatham
Bars Inn Beach Grill in honor of Blake. MBA President Marsha
Kazarosian will give welcome remarks at this beach-side
The Annual Conference resumes early on Saturday morning when Angela
M. Ordoñez, chief justice of the Probate and Family Court, delivers
the perennial State of the Probate and Family Court address. Two
substantive programs follow the chief justice's address.
First, attorney Lynn Isaman will moderate a panel entitled
"Navigating a DCF Investigation." This session will review the
organizational structure of DCF, the investigation and reporting of
abuse and neglect, representing clients in an investigation and
appeal, how the court obtains access to DCF records, and trial and
evidentiary issues that may arise regarding DCF records.
Next, the conference concludes with "Is This Still Your Brain On
Drugs? Substance Abuse and Parenting Plans," moderated by Clapp,
the conference chair, of Grindle Robinson, LLP. This panel will
include a presentation by Dr. Jennifer Michaels, medical director
of the Brien Center for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services,
on the physiological impact of drugs and medications that battle
opiate addiction, a discussion of substance abuse and its impact on
parenting, substance abuse testing from the point of view of the
Probation Department and the development of parenting plans when a
parent suffers from a substance abuse issue.
"The Conference Committee worked very hard to assemble excellent
panelists from across Massachusetts and to shape a conference that
would provide a comprehensive learning experience for all
attendees," said Clapp. "We hope this conference, in addition to
being another sell out, will provide practitioners with an
opportunity for thought provoking discussion and fellowship."