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REPORT ON LDRC

Welcome to our Fall 2013 newsletter. We had a great summer including lots of good work, travel and two new grandsons.

For those of us who work primarily in the family law area, it is a time of change and intellectual interest. With the 2012 alimony “reform” legislation just now begetting appellate case law (the first case, Green v. Green, just arrived) is challenging advocates, mediators and arbitrators, as are the implications of our brand new Child Support Guidelines (eff. 8/1/13) after quadrennial review. We have been actively blogging on these topics, as well as working with them hands on; and as always, we invite you to subscribe to our for-the-most-part-weekly blog, for brief takes on these evolving matters. A portal to the LDRC blog appears here.

Over the summer, Bill taught arbitration as a part of a four-member faculty in Chicago, as part of AAML’s continuing effort to promote and refine family law arbitration, by training excellent arbitrators. He is launching into another season, now, of promoting a dedicated statute for Massachusetts, a true challenge, but a worthwhile one. Meanwhile, his arbitration work continues to grow despite the lack of a refined statute here, because the need for it is real, and its advantages manifest. Our blog frequently features arbitration, too.

This fall, Chouteau will begin volunteer service on a pilot project for the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court, under the leadership of Chief Justice Angela Ordonez. The Limited Issues Settlement Conference project begins in November, 2013, sited for statewide use at the Probate and Family Court in Canton, MA. As a retired Probate Court judge, she will join former colleagues in assisting to resolve cases that are close to settlement, but for defined outstanding issues, in courthouse conferences geared towards attaining final resolution and a judgment on the conference day. The conferences will occur monthly with each judge handling a day’s worth of business.

Meanwhile, Bill continues to work with the Probate Court’s Interdisciplinary Settlement Conference project that has been in action for several years now, pairing a lawyer-mediator with a mental health professional, to help resolve cases after pre-trial conference and that involve at least some aspect of parenting.

We believe that supporting the courts and community by helping to resolve cases short of public trial is consistent with the mission of LDRC, easing the load of the courts a bit while reducing trauma to families in transition, throughout the Commonwealth.

Both Bill and Chouteau have been named to 2014’s Best Lawyers (Smith and Naifeh, Best Lawyers in America) in all three categories of: mediation, family mediation and arbitration. We are honored and pleased.

Finally, we continue our practice here of presenting diverse writings from friends and colleagues. In this newsletter, you will read about:

-- “Overcoming Barriers”, a collaboration of psychologists, Robin Deutsch, Ph.D. and Peggy Ward, Ph.D., and Massachusetts Chief Probation Officer (Norfolk Probate and Family Court) Donna Feinberg, LICSW. In its fifth year, this program is a non-profit summer camp program for families enmeshed in high-conflict divorce, and our authors report on progress of this important initiative.

-- “Breaking Up With Your Mortgage”, a practical look at the challenges of re-financing homes in the wake of divorce in the post 2008 underwriting environment, a movable feast that is mysterious and perplexing to those going through it both as clients and as advisors, offered by Sheira MacKenzie , a Senior Loan Originator and Divorce Specialist with Fairway Independent Mortgage.

-- “The Entrepreneur’s Legacy: Preparing Family Finances for a Business Owner’s Passing”, by Lake Street Advisors, LLC’s Senior Relationship Manager, Judith Schreiber Rowland, JD, CPA, about realism and planning for that which none of wants to plan, really.

We thank all of these wonderful contributors and encourage any of you who wish to reach our readership in a future newsletter to send your writings (they need not be created exclusively or expressly for us), along with your logo and/or headshot if you wish, to wmlevine@levinedisputeresolution.com

Please look for our upcoming article, Massachusetts Alimony Reform and Divorce Mediation: Is it Information or Legal Advice?, in the Fall 2013 issue of the Massachusetts Council on Family Mediation’s “Family Mediation Quarterly”. You can also look back at our piece: Its No Sin: Filing and Serving A Complaint Before or During Family Mediation in FMQ’s Spring 2013 issue. MCFM’s website is www.mcfm.org.

As this is published, we are recently returned from the second annual conference of the Academy of Professional Family Mediators, in Denver. More on that later.

Have a great fall season and wonderful holidays; and see you on the blog.

Chouteau and Bill

Overcoming Barriers, Inc., High-Conflict Divorce Camp

By: Robin Deutsch, Ph.D. Peggie Ward, Ph.D., Donna Feinberg, LICSW

In it’s fifth year, Overcoming Barriers, Inc. offered an exciting and innovative program for High Conflict Divorcing Families. The program this year took place at Common Ground Center, a family camp in Vermont specializing in diverse programing for families. Five families, including both parents and all children met for the first time in an “out of court environment”. The camp focuses on the children’s experience of the parents’ conflict, the short and long-term effects of that conflict, and the shift to coparenting without conflict. read more...


The Entrepreneur's Legacy: Preparing Family Finances for a Business Owner's Passing

By: Judith Schreiber Rowland, JD, CPA

Great wealth carries great complexity – a stark responsibility shifts from one person to another. In the case of a spouse’s death, the obligation to steer the family fortune is often a sudden and startling change, and the combination of grief, helplessness, and confusion can be paralyzing.  read more...

Alimony in Massachusetts: The Appeals Court Speaks First in Green v. Green

LDRC Blog

The first appellate case on the "new" Massachusetts alimony statute (eff. 3/1/12), has emerged from the Appeals Court. In the case Green v. Green, the court addressed a provision that many think was central to the bill's passage: the presumption that when an alimony payor reaches a defined "retirement age" support should usually end, whether or not actual retirement has occurred. read more...


Breaking Up With Your Mortgage

By: Sheira MacKenzie

Sheira MacKenzie is a Senior Loan Originator and Divorce Specialist with Fairway Independent Mortgage in Needham, MA. She has been in the industry for 12 years and devotes a significant portion of her practice to assisting couples going through divorce. For a complimentary consultation and credit report please contact Sheira at (781) 719-4673 or sheiram@fairwaymc.com

Couples are often overly optimistic when assessing the value of their property. Regardless of what you paid for the home and how much work you have done or money invested into it, the value is determined by a licensed appraiser who will compare it to similar home sales within the past 90 days. Depending on the sales activity in your neighborhood, this number could vary throughout the year. read more...



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781.708.4445 | 413.341.1017 | Email: info@levinedisputeresolution.com

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