WHAT NORFOLK COUNTY JUDGES WANT

On February 26, 2014, Attorney Grossman attended a program which featured the six (6) judges in the Norfolk Probate & Family Court and their stated preferences during motions, pre-trial conferences and at trials.   Her notes from that program are attached here.

   

Norfolk Bar Panel with Judges

February 26, 2014

 

JUDGE CASEY

Motions:  

  1. Give documents to the other side before the hearing
  2. State what you’re looking for at the beginning of the hearing
  3. Likes Proposed Order with details, not blanks

PTC:

  1. Have 4way before the day of the PTC
  2. Limit pages of PTM
  3. Focus on contested issues

Trial:

  1. Bring proposed Judgment on first day of trial
  2. Narrow the issues for trial
  3. Doesn’t like fat exhibit books; use 3” or smaller
  4. Stand to object
  5. No grounds needed for objections unless asked

 

JUDGE JACOBS 

 Motions:

  1. Exchange documents ahead of hearing
  2. Wants answer first, then will give time for explanation
  3. Loves detailed Proposed Orders and Stipulation of agreed issues

PTC:

  1. Have 4 way before hearing date
  2. Attorneys should act professionally as a model for clients

Trial:

  1. Likes smaller binders too
  2. Arrive with Stipulation of agreed issues

 

JUDGE MENNO               

 Motions:

  1. State what you want and why
  2. Provide an Order (not proposed) with his name on it to make it simple for the Court to get the Order to us quickly.
  3. Likes “controlled passion” – don’t bang table – be calm
  4. Don’t complaint about opposing counsel

PTC:

  1. Most important day of the case
  2. He clears the courtroom except the parties and counsel
  3. Wants a short, sweet PTM
  4. Amend the PTM format and give theory of the case at the beginning
  5. Can alter the PTM format to include offer of proof
  6. His time to talk, not the lawyers’

Trial:

  1. 3% of cases should go to trial
  2. Most cases should not go to trial
  3. Likes lawyers to be mindful of time
  4. He watches the time and expects direct testimony to be put into evidence in an hour
  5. On cross exam don’t regurgitate facts already in evidence
  6. He limits testimony based on time

 

JUDGE ULWICK 

 Motions:

  1. Be prepared
  2. Prepare client by getting information before hearing; doesn’t like client to speak
  3. Likes detailed motions
  4. If multiple issues or motions see if they can be scheduled on a trial date instead of a motion day to get more of her time

PTC:

  1. Does not close courtroom
  2. Appreciates joint PTM
  3. Time management important
  4. In memo state areas of agreement and disagreement
  5. She really does read PTM
  6. After the hearing she asks parties and counsel to “step back” and go talk, and return to court after talking
  7. Wants us to be sincere about listing witnesses in PTM – not too many

Trial:

  1. Wants Stipulation of uncontested facts
  2. Don’t repeat stipulated facts during direct or cross exams
  3. Bates stamp pages
  4. Point to exhibits when laying out your case
  5. Don’t object too much

 

JUDGE PHELAN  (*will be riding circuit and replaced by Judge Menno)

 Motions:

  1. Don’t object to opposing counsel’s argument at motions
  2. Be dignified and civil during motions
  3. Provide detailed Proposed Order

PTC:

  1. PTC very important
  2. Tell the Judge the bad stuff about your client too – deflect issue from other side

Trial:

  1. Often too many documents and witnesses – attorneys practicing defensively
  2. Just use important documents and witnesses
  3. Wonders why we put documents into the exhibit book which we don’t actually use at trial

 

JUDGE ROACH  (*doesn’t have assigned list of cases/handling multi-day trials only)

Motions:

  1. Don’t try your case in the motion session
  2. Be polite to counsel – don’t interrupt
  3. Provide a written Order, concise with reasons why

PTC:

  1. Closes courtroom for case
  2. He reads PTM on bench
  3. He says to clients that he has read it
  4. Allows each attorney to orally summarize case
  5. He recommends how case should be resolved
  6. Wants concise PTM
  7. Under Contested Issues wants Proposed Judgment and reasons why
  8. 4 way and PTC very important

Trial:

  1. Prepare before trial
  2. Just use the relevant bank statements, not all of them
  3. Know your case inside and out
  4. Put evidence in logically
  5. Don’t jump all over place
  6. Submit Proposed Judgment on first day of trial

 

ISSUES DISCUSSED

“General term alimony shall terminate upon full retirement age”

Facts:  Payor now 66.5, been paying alimony for 25 years and brings motion to immediately terminate his alimony.

JUDGE ROACH SAYS:

Statute is confusing.  Section 4 says section 49 applies prospectively.  Doesn’t think new law should apply retroactively because interferes with parties’ constitutional rights.  He would deny Payor’s motion even if it resulted in injustice.  After trial, he would base a modification on the factors in the Pierce case.

JUDGE MENNO SAYS:

On same facts he disagrees with Judge Roach. Alimony Reform Act can change the law. Not adverse to suspend alimony on Temporary Orders.  Fact driven and not concerned about constitutional protections.

JUDGE PHELAN SAYS:

Still need to show “need and ability to pay”.  Statute did not change this basic principle.

JUDGE CASEY SAYS:

He reads Alimony Reform Act that termination is mandatory due to the “shall” language.   Only need to establish Payor’s retirement age, then the burden shifts to the recipient to show by clear and convincing evidence.  Can outline by Affidavit what material change has happened since judgment.  Even if Payor continues working Casey would terminate unless other side can prove a material change (i.e. health issues, etc.)

JUDGE ULWICK SAYS:

Need to file a Counterclaim to bring forward recipient’s claim to continue alimony. She interprets the “prospective” language in the statute to mean that the Payor must get permission from Court to terminate, cannot terminate automatically.   The earlier judgment was part of a package deal and she is concerned about detrimental reliance.

NEXT FACT PATTERN:

Wife was cohabitating before the divorce.  After Alimony Reform Act Payor brings Complaint for Modification claiming cohabitation should terminate his obligation.

JUDGE PHELAN SAYS:

This is a “new beginning”.  Pick any date after the statute as the first day of the 90 day period.  Does not see an obligation to share physical residence as proof of cohabitation.  He interprets cohabitation broadly.    If recipient were to bring a motion to dismiss, he would deny it.

JUDGE CASEY SAYS:

This was a big issue earlier but seems to have died down, not sure why.  He believes it means cohabitation after March 1, 2012.  If recipient or cohabitating partner were to move out and back in, he would examine the pattern and determine whether there was fraud on the court.

JUDGE ROACH SAYS:

This is different than his opinion about terminating alimony on retirement because there is notice.

JUDGE MENNO SAYS:

Has seen only a few cohabitation cases.  Would examine how much the paramour is contributing to the household.

 

 

WORDS OF THANKS FROM A HAPPY CLIENT

In March 2014, Attorney Grossman received flowers and a note from an appreciative client whose case was resolved in a month.  Through the hard work of Attorney Grossman, the client was reunited with his 18 month old daughter after being alienated from her for the past 5 months.  Here is what he had to say:

“Hindell, I wanted to say thank you for all of your help!  I know I wasn’t an easy client but truly thankful for all that you have done.  It has been a long journey but overjoyed that she’s back in my life.”
– Happy Client

ALIMONY TERMINATED DUE TO CO-HABITATION

In 2013 Hindell handled a two day trial to determine whether her client, the payor of alimony, could terminate his obligation to pay alimony, and other financial obligations, due to his former wife’s cohabitation since 2005.   Her client was 61 years old and his former wife was 59 years old on the last day of trial. 

 In February, 2014 Hindell’s client won everything.   His alimony and his other financial obligations are terminated, including his obligation to secure his alimony obligation with a life insurance policy, and the Judge determined that he could claw back approximately $100,000 of alimony he paid since he served the Complaint upon her in March, 2012 by receiving a transfer of retirement funds from his former Wife.      

 The case seemed to turn on the Judge’s finding that the former Wife and her paramour had a relationship tantamount to a marriage based on her financial dependence, his history of bill payment, their joint ownership of a condominium, and other factors.    Wife has appealed.         

THE STATE OF EXTRA MARITAL AFFAIRS

Boston Globe

Just as the stigma of cheating fades away, opportunities to stray have multiplied — and so have the chances of getting caught.

By Melissa Schorr    

NOVEMBER 17, 2013

 “A betrayal can be as simple as a sext,” says Sharon-based marriage and family therapist Karen Ruskin.

ADULTERY IS STILL TECHNICALLY A CRIME in Massachusetts, though a case hasn’t been pursued in decades. So perhaps it is fitting that it is in the Reading Police Station where a small cadre of husbands and wives is meeting tonight, to unpack heartache over cheating spouses. Whom they still love. Maybe.

About a half-dozen middle-aged men and women trickle into the nondescript room and assemble around a Formica-topped conference table where a jar of colorful hard candy — and a telling box of Kleenex — awaits.

A sandy-haired man who drives down monthly from New Hampshire leans toward the woman sitting across the way. “Did you hear about the woman in Lynn who ran over her ex’s girlfriend?” he asks, referencing a story from the day’s news. His mouth unexpectedly breaks into a wide smile. “Good for her,” he cackles. “Good for her.”

Dark humor is not uncommon at the Beyond Affairs Network, an international support group founded decades ago solely for those who have been betrayed — cheaters decidedly not welcome. Members come from all over Greater Boston to speak about infidelity’s aftershocks: the hurt that still lingers, the anger that still rages, the insecurity, the devastation, and the shame. They cover healing and forgiveness and reconciliation, fear and loneliness and scorn. “I’ll never be the same person again,” a man in a green shirt with soft brown eyes tells the group. “I’ll never be as naive as I was. It rapes you of your innocence.”

Over the two-hour meeting, they speak somberly about the suicide attempts with pills or running engines and jovially about the “infidelity diet,” where you shed 51 pounds in two months. They share revenge scenarios, imaginary and ones actually carried out involving strategically placed dog feces. They one-up one another with horror stories — the letter from a spouse’s mistress that begins “You and I could have been friends”; the diamond earrings on Valentine’s Day that were such an obvious sign, in retrospect; the injustices of making child-support payments for a husband’s out-of-wedlock baby and of having to rub elbows with former spouses’ paramours at christenings, weddings, and other family occasions. They describe marriages that ended with a bang, on a 30th anniversary, and with a whimper, after indiscretions dating back to the wedding night.

Group members return to meetings year after year because no one else in their life truly understands how they feel — or still has the patience to listen. And their numbers are growing. In 2006, there were 61 Beyond Affairs Network groups in 27 states and 10 countries. Today there are 129 groups in 38 states and 16 countries.

For a long time they wept, but now they can laugh. They are survivors.

On one thing, they agree: There are no consequences for cheating these days. It’s accepted. Glorified, almost. And no one cares about it. Until it happens to them.

ADULTERY IS AS OLD as the Book of Genesis and as modern as the latest Anthony Weiner revelation. Unlike the more laissez-faire attitude of the French, we Americans are conflicted about infidelity. We denounce it morally — but overlook it politically, time and again. We condemn it in the theoretical — but often quietly forgive it in the personal. It permeates our pop culture, in movies from The Descendantsto Blue Jasmine, reality TV shows from Cheaters to Deadly Affairs, and dramas like The Good Wife and Showtime’s upcoming The Affair. It fills the airwaves in country ballads and pop anthems. It stays in the shadows, whispered by small-town gossipmongers, until it breaks into the local headlines, such as the Hamilton cop who shot a fellow officer from Beverly last year after accusing him of having an affair with his wife.

“Infidelity is the ultimate crime in a marriage,” says Whitman private investigator Mark Chauppetta, author of Happens All the Time: Cheating in the Good Ol’ U.S.A. “I’ve had women that want to claw [the other woman’s] eyes out. I’ve had politicians and state troopers crying in my arms.”

And yet there are signs everywhere that the shame of stepping out has faded. Politicians bounce back unscathed for another run. The decade-old matchmaking websiteAshleyMadison.com brazenly hooks up married men and women, promoting extramarital encounters with its motto “Life is short. Have an affair.” An infamous 2010 New York Timeswedding write-up features a couple proudly detailing their “meet-cute” — while married to other people. A Philadelphia man is tagged on Facebook unabashedly bragging in June about an affair to his commuter rail buddies in a picture taken by an outraged female passenger whose “share” went viral.

In a 2013 Gallup Poll that listed behaviors and societal realities that included porn, gambling, abortion, polygamy, and the death penalty, 91 percent of survey respondents flagged adultery as morally reprehensible. It drew a higher rate of disapproval than any issue on the survey. Instinctively, we sense that lying to and betraying the one person we’ve sworn fealty to is far worse than simply divorcing that person. Condemnation of divorce has decreased since 2001, but disapproval of adultery has held steady.

However, that moral censure doesn’t exactly curb the behavior. Nearly 15 percent of wives and 21 percent of husbands reported having an affair in a 2010 poll by the National Opinion Research Center, which has been asking this particular question for two decades.

“Guys do it to get laid, women do it for the emotional connection,” Chauppetta says with a shrug, echoing the classic stereotype. Then he stops and amends his thoughts. “Women are starting to dirty up a little bit.” Whether their reasons are carnal or emotional, women’s infidelity rates are rising. The percentage of wives admitting to cheating has increased in the past two decades from 10.6 percent in 1991, according to the National Opinion Research Center’s poll.

“Either you’ve been cheated on, you are going to be cheated on, you’ve thought about cheating and shut it down, or you know somebody who has cheated,” says Karen Ruskin, a Sharon-based marriage and family therapist. “It’s a topic that interests everybody.”

From Ruskin’s perspective, a number of societal shifts have facilitated a lapse of fidelity, from the growing numbers of women in the workplace to greater acceptance of friendships across gender lines and even our nation’s newfound tendency to over-share, whether it be with a co-worker or an online buddy. “The philosophy used to be ‘don’t air your dirty laundry,’ ” Ruskin says. “These days we air it at work, on Twitter, Facebook, et cetera,” and that kind of sharing can build emotional connections that lead to affairs. What’s more, infidelity is in the news. “Affairs are talked about on TV, radio, and in print,” Ruskin adds. “The more something is talked about and aired, the more acceptable it becomes.”

The relentless media parade of men behaving badly — Weiner, General David Petraeus, Eliot Spitzer, Arnold Schwarzenegger, John Edwards, Mark Sanford, Tiger Woods, David Letterman, Bill Clinton — has only served to accustom us to the behavior. “It’s become acceptable,” says Ruskin. “It’s so prominent we’ve become desensitized.”

And occasionally, although the odds are long, high-profile alliances formed from a dalliance seem to work out — take Brad and Angie. Or onetime GE CEO Jack Welch and formerHarvard Business Review editor Suzy Wetlaufer, whose affair made headlines a decade ago and who have been together since.

“I think adultery has lost some, but not all, of its stigma,” says Quincy divorce attorney Bruce Watson, pointing to changes in the legal system that have greatly lessened the repercussions for cheating. “It’s certainly more widespread than it was years ago.”

Decades ago, cheating could be cited as the cause in a fault divorce, and the “other party” could even be civilly sued for causing “alienation of affection.” Since the advent of no-fault divorce in Massachusetts in 1976, adultery is only rarely brought up as a tactic, sometimes to speed up the process or to affect custody or, occasionally, as a pressure point during settlement negotiations. “People are often trying to vindicate their emotional trauma or to really try to exact some economic reparation,” says Boston-based divorce attorney Donald Tye.

More typically it plays no role at all. “Unless the adulterous behavior was objectively harmful to the children or the non-adulterous party, it’s not going to have a major impact on the outcome of the divorce,” says Watson. “Divorce judges are not all that enthusiastic about seeing adultery as the primary basis for divorce.”

MODERN LIFE has also muddied the waters of what defines an affair, compared with the traditional sex-based rendezvous at the Pierre, a la Don Draper. A once-a-year dalliance at a professional conference? An “office wife” doling out “innocent” back rubs and hugs? An “emo” affair, meaning emotional-only, between two people conducted entirely online?

“We are in a relationship revolution, trying to figure out what even constitutes an affair,” says Ruskin. “From a marriage therapist’s perspective, it’s the secrecy and the intimate connection with another human. A betrayal can be as simple as a sext.”

Technology has certainly added a whole new wrinkle, from the start of an affair to its unraveling. Entire books and academic studies have been devoted to Facebook’s well-documented role in breaking up marriages. Beyond that, there are apps and devices that can simulate touch, and Snapchat, which allows racy photos to be sent and automatically erased. Savvy cheaters set up secondary, secret e-mail accounts and use disposable cellphones.

“Most of the affairs we deal with have started on classmates.com and Facebook,” says Beyond Affairs Network national leader Anne Bercht, author of the book My Husband’s Affair Became the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me. “All you need is for some old flame from high school to happen to Facebook you on a day you feel angry with your spouse. It’s tempting to have that secret correspondence and create a fantasy — maybe we should have married each other.”

A more calculated affair is a click away on AshleyMadison.com, where members post “selfies” more readily than seems wise if they care about getting caught. Within days of signing up to see how it works, I’ve been barraged by winks, messages, and views from readyornot in Natick, Dirty-GirlSeeker in Minot, and barnside in Chatham, all attached males seeking “fun and lovely times” (discreetly, natch).

But technology is also proving to be an adulterer’s Achilles’ heel. You may think you’re safe because you’ve cleared your cache — but you may not be. Cheaters have been tripped up by being inadvertently “tagged” on Facebook in an incriminating photo snapped while out with their extramarital partner. Or when a spouse synchs a new device and all those deleted sexts come tumbling out of the cloud. Or even by the digital trail recorded by their car’s E-ZPass.

Chauppetta says technology is bad for business, with more men and women catching their own spouses red-handed. But some still hire the PI for incontrovertible proof. “People are just gluttons for punishment,” he says. “Sometimes, [they] need to see living, breathing flesh on videotape.”

But those visuals come at a cost. Therapists say being confronted with all the dirty details of a conversation thread may be devastating in a way that finding a stray hair or hotel receipt indicating an affair is not. “Long ago, you were not confronted with what actually happens [during an affair],” says Ruskin. “Now it’s in your face, and it’s hard to get those thoughts out of your head. It’s like PTSD. You keep replaying the trauma of what happened.”

Once detected, betrayed spouses can find support on websites like SurvivingInfidelity.com — or take their vengeance virtually. CheaterVille.com allows users anonymously to post detailed profiles of cheaters as a warning to potential partners. Wronged spouses have spawned a new genre — the personal revenge blog — where the betrayed spew vitriol upon their spouse’s partners on sites like yesthisreallydidhappen or ourjourneyafterhisaffair.

MARRIAGES GONE STALE, sexless marriages, Kardashian-speed marriages. Affairs resulting from those realities are predictable. The stories that keep you up at night are ones like Kristen’s.

“We had a fantastic marriage,” recalls the 40-year-old mother of three in a MetroWest suburb. Before moving east, she worked in a West Coast clinic testing women for STDs, including wives with cheating husbands. “I remember counseling women like me; nobody ever thinks they’re going to be on the other side.”

Then, after their youngest child was born, her husband confessed he had gotten involved with a co-worker.

The pain was intense. “We were the last couple anyone would have expected this to happen to,” she says. “Not to scare people, but it can happen in absolutely anyone’s marriage, not just marriages that are crumbling. Some people within a marriage make poor decisions. Good people get wrapped up in affairs. I do not vilify anyone. Personal vulnerability, plus opportunity, leads to an affair. It’s pretty classic.”

For many, the journey begins innocuously. A stressful home life. The entrance of someone new who showers you with attention. It starts with just talk. Just lunch. Just dinner. Maybe a trip. “It’s this process where you keep moving the moral boundary,” Kristen says. “And then one day you’ve crossed it. There are real feelings involved.”

Some ascribe the cheating to a specific flaw in the individual, especially in serial cheaters. Drug addictions or childhood abuse drives their insecurities, their need for the repeated ego boost. But even so, therapists largely call foul on those excuses, saying it is ultimately about deciding to take action.

“I believe people make the choice to cheat,” says Ruskin. “The moment we even give ourselves permission to say that ‘It just happened,’ then we have lost control over who we are.” Monica Meehan McNamara, a marriage and family therapist in private practice in the South End, agrees: “Anybody, at any time, could be very drawn to another human being. When that happens, do you take action or not?”

Bruce Elmslie, a professor of economics at the University of New Hampshire, has studied what factors influence the likelihood a spouse will have an affair. Being pious doesn’t matter. What does is simple: happiness with the marriage. The chance of a woman having an affair increases about 8.5 percent if she is not very happy in her marriage for whatever reason, while the chance of a man having an affair increases 9.8 percent.

“Keep [your spouse] happy and they won’t be as likely to have an affair,” Elmslie says. Fail at your own peril. Consider this: AshleyMadison.com claims that the day after Mother’s Day brings the highest spike in women signing up for its services.

 

‘I THOUGHT MY LIFE was wonderful,” says Kitty, 63, who leads the North of Boston Beyond Affairs Network chapter, recalling the hot July day eight years ago when she stumbled upon her husband’s affair. She and her mother-in-law had stopped by his construction site with some bottled water, only to find him leaning against his truck, kissing a co-worker. “That was when the s ***  hit the fan. I was in such shock. I threw the water at him and left. I was shaking like I never shook before. Every dream we had was shattered.”

They call it D-day: the day an affair is discovered.

It’s easy to jump to a conclusion about what you’d do. But this is the moment when our moral certainty runs smack against our pragmatism. We think we’d be like Elin and her window-smashing golf club, kicking Tiger to the curb, but we turn out to be more like Anthony Weiner’s wife, Huma, standing by her husband as he campaigned.

“You might not really feel what you think you’re going to feel,” says Ruskin. “Many people think they would end the marriage; when they find out, more actually stay [than think they will]. A lot of people, as they talk to their spouse, feel they played a role in the cheating.”

After discovering her husband’s affair in 2000, “I made a decision not to make a decision,” recalls Beyond Affairs Network’s Bercht. She calls the first three months a period of “craziness” and the second a period of “fighting.” “It took two years for me to reach a place where I recommitted myself to my marriage. It’s not the affair itself that does the biggest damage; it’s the mistakes [people] make after. The person who is unfaithful only tells partial truth; they think the full truth will be too painful. The betrayed spouse can say or do things in anger, make decisions you can’t take back.”

Your odds of staying together after one partner has had an affair are, essentially, a coin toss. Slightly more than half of men and women who admit they had an affair will end up divorced, reports a 2012 study in the Journal of Family Issues. And those couples who experienced infidelity were more than two times as likely to divorce as those whose partners remained faithful.

That doesn’t mean that the affair directly caused the breakup, however. “The affair is typically not just about having sex,” says Ruskin. “The theory is that there is an underlying issue that has led to the affair.” Those who are successful in attacking the problem may come out on the other side with a sturdier relationship. “Once you start talking, the couple comes to discover other components that were never addressed. People start to feel maybe this can make lemonade, we can grow and recognize our problem and improve.”

But for those whose flaws were insurmountable, the marriage may have imploded anyway, affair or no affair.

Kitty is resisting a divorce, though her husband has chosen to move in with his extramarital partner. “I don’t feel after 40 years she deserves to take what belongs to me,” she says. “What Elizabeth Edwards wrote in her book Resilience hit me: What gives this woman the right to come and knock on my door and think what I worked so hard for, she can come in and take it all away?” Kitty finds lack of repercussions from an affair disheartening. “I think no-fault divorce was the worst thing that could happen,” she says. “It’s so easy. They don’t have to answer to anybody if they’re cheating.”

Despite counseling and attending couples retreats, Kristen’s husband was never able to recommit fully to the marriage and she asked for a divorce. “People should invest in fostering their marriage [before infidelity occurs], as opposed to trying to pick up the pieces,” she advises others today. “If people aren’t growing their marriage, it could lead to openings for third parties.”

“I believe that affairs are destroying our country; the core that makes any nation strong is strong families — when children grow up in a stable home environment,” says Bercht. She envisions a world where all of us, not just those in a post-affair crisis, would regularly attend couples’ counseling to freshen our skills, similar to how we require doctors to enroll in continuing ed. “It’s the one area of life that has more potential to make us happy, and we don’t bother getting educated; we think we should just know how to do it,” she adds. “If someone says, ‘We’re going to a marriage retreat,’ the response would be, ‘Are you having problems?’ I’d like to see that flipped.”

***

KITTY LIKES to end the Beyond Affairs Network meetings on a positive note, in the same way that she signs all of her e-mails “Keep Smiling.” So after two hours of heavy discussion, the meeting wraps up with Kitty passing out slices of white-frosted cake, brought to fete one member’s birthday. There’s another reason to celebrate tonight. The man with the soft brown eyes and the woman whose husband began cheating on her wedding day are marking their own one-year wedding anniversary tonight, which only goes to show what cheaters know so well: Romance can spring up even under the most unlikely of circumstances.

Kitty wonders aloud whether all that pain was the work of some higher power, designed to bring this new couple together, but the rest of the group looks doubtful. So much anguish, and for what? They can’t throw their cheating exes in jail; they can’t sue them for breaching their marriage contracts; they can’t even shame them socially. There is only one hope, which Kitty voices in a parting shot: “May karma come to them.”

PROBATE & FAMILY COURT ANNOUNCEMENT FOR PILOT PROGRAM OFFERING FREE SETTLEMENT CONFERENCES

   Probate and Family Court Chief Justice Angela M. Ordoñez recently announced the creation of a pilot program designed to settle cases where the majority of the contested issues have already been resolved.

        The Limited Issues Settlement Conference (LISC) program is envisioned as a judicial case management tool intended to bring parties and counsel together, by agreement, to settle any kind of Probate and Family Court matter, with the involvement and expertise of an active or retired judge of the Probate and Family Court. Potential cases range from divorce settlements, child custody and support issues, and will contests, to guardianships of children or the elderly, among others. To be eligible to request a conference, the parties to the case need to have been before the court on at least one prior occasion, one side must be represented by counsel, and the parties must agree to bring a working agreement to the scheduled hearing.

        The LISC program is intended to assist the parties in resolving outstanding issues. If complete resolution is achieved at the conference, a decree or judgment necessary to conclude the matter will enter immediately after the conference thus saving parties, counsel, and the courts from additional expense of time and money in preparation for, and presentation of, a trial.

        Cases pending in any county may participate in this process. The conferences will be held on the first Friday of each month at the Norfolk Probate and Family Court in Canton. The first conference session was held on November 1, 2013. Free parking is available at the conference site.

 

WHAT IF I AM SCARED OF BEING ALONE?

Hi Hindell, 

My husband and I are nearing the end of our divorce proceedings. We’re signing the final papers next week, and all I can think about is how scared I am to be alone. What can I do to cope?

Sincerely,

Lonely in Lexington

The fact is that getting divorced is a lonely endeavor.  Realize that you may need support and that sadness can overwhelm unexpectedly.  Divorce is a life altering event which requires change in the way you think and live.  Don’t minimize the impact, but recognize that you have control over how you live and make choices which make your life better. Get help to make this plan if you need.  In addition to therapists, there are executive coaches, career counselors, financial advisors and others to help guide you.

Best wishes,

Hindell Grossman
Grossman & Associates, Ltd.
Newton & Nantucket
617.969.0069

CAN I DATE WHILE I’M IN THE PROCESS OF GETTING A DIVORCE?

Dear Hindell,

My husband and I decided to file for divorce several months ago. The process has been incredibly stressful, and my friend suggested I start dating again as a way to take my mind off of the situation. Am I allowed to date while still in the process of getting a divorce? If so, should I tell my husband?

Sincerely, 

Wondering in Watertown

Yes you are permitted to date but it is not unusual for this to fuel a new round of hostility toward you from your spouse and possibly your children, and for the divorce proceedings to be impacted in some small way. However, dating while divorcing often provides a new social life and can help you transition to a new sense of self. While it can bring joy and a positive distraction, dating should be a discreet activity, kept from both the children and your spouse as long as possible.

Best wishes,

Hindell Grossman
Grossman & Associates, Ltd.
Newton & Nantucket
617.969.0069

WHAT SHOULD I DO AFTER MY DIVORCE?

Dear Hindell,

My ex-spouse and I recently signed our Separation Agreements and finalized our divorce. While I’m glad the divorce proceedings are over, is there anything else I should be doing over the next few months to ensure my ex-spouse is complying with the terms we negotiated?

Sincerely,

Finalizing in Framingham

 

Once the divorce is final, many people put away their paperwork and hope never to look at it again.   From a legal perspective this might mean you have left money on the table because you failed to get assets or other benefits negotiated in the divorce.   Within four to six months after the divorce it would be wise to review the terms of the divorce again, to be sure that you received everything you should get, and that both parties are complying with the negotiated terms, or understand that you have chosen not to comply by agreement.

To ensure that you get everything you are entitled to; understand the remedies available if your other spouse fails to comply; or if there has been a material change in circumstances or the law which warrant a change in the terms of your divorce, please take a deep breath and review the divorce agreement.  Keep a copy of the signed Agreement along with the last signed Financial Statements in a special folder for easy access, and see an attorney annually for a review.

Best wishes,

Hindell Grossman
Grossman & Associates, Ltd.
Newton & Nantucket
617.969.0069

WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS IF I THINK MY SOON TO BE EX-SPOUSE MAY WITHDRAW FROM OUR JOINT ACCOUNT?

Hi Hindell,

My spouse and I are in the early stages of divorce, and I’m afraid my spouse will withdraw from our joint account.  What should I do? 

Sincerely,

Deciding in Dorcester

In most cases, depending on the facts and circumstances a joint account is a marital asset which will be divided equally, even if you each contributed different amounts.   If you fear that your spouse will withdraw marital assets from a joint account, you can consider several options.  First, after considering what amounts might automatically be withdrawn from the joint account, you could withdraw 50% of the funds yourself, leaving your spouse the other 50%.   Second, you could stop depositing into the joint account and open a separate account for your earnings.  Third, you could mutually agree to account for all expenses, and divide the balance.  

Best wishes,

Hindell Grossman
Grossman & Associates, Ltd.
Newton & Nantucket
617.969.0069