Part One: What’s in a Choice?

Woody Allen once wrote that life is divided between the horrible and the terrible, an exaggeration that 2014 world news nonetheless seemed to support. From November comes our:

(more or less frequent, as circumstances require)

“There are elections when you choose between A and B, and then there are the more difficult ones when you choose between A and A,” he said. “You are a liberal, so you do not understand this. In the Russian consciousness, you can choose between A and A and A, and choosing between an infinite number of A’s is true freedom.”

NY Times, 11.2.14, “Rebel-Backed Elections to Cement Status Quo in Ukraine”, By Andrew E. Kramer

We did not choose this quote either for its irony nor to celebrate political and intellectual corruption (though both are undeniable), but because it reminded us of what we can never become professionally. Our job as mediators is to help our clients search always for a B, if not options C, D or E. A choice between A and A, of course, is no choice at all; and while some may be swayed, we hope that our clients never are, as we strive to encourage self-determination during perilous family transitions.

Part Two: Who’s a Senior?

As we grow up, we tend to think of life in four-year segments, like high school and college. It is amazing how what once seemed to be an era now feels like an eye-blink in time. So it is with our practice, as we begin our fourth year at LDRC. It is hard to believe that we have experienced so much in just three years. The whole sense of achievement and satisfaction surely seems greater than the sum of years.

Yet, with three years down, does that mean we are now seniors?

Certainly, that people may give what we say a little bit more weight (when what we say makes sense, of course), is a form of seniority. Being lucky enough to have an expanding generation of successful kids and beautiful grandchildren is, too. And, one of us, anyway, can occasionally see a movie or enter a museum at a senior discount. But do we feel like seniors, in the sense that we are about to complete something and move on to something else? Absolutely not.

We left incredibly full and fortunate careers behind to start another one, together. We established ourselves as a significant practice in our geographical, discipline and subject matter areas. We mediate, conciliate, arbitrate and perform master services in volume, and we think, at high quality. We serve a clientele of spouses and their lawyers, many of the latter as repeat customers. We have resolved many dozens of cases by private dispute resolution (we’ve stopped calling it “alternative”, because we strive to be primary) processes that are traditional and some less so. We are always open to innovation and hybridization when the clients or their needs demand it. We are comfortable in saying that we have saved clients hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees and miles of emotional tread ware.

We also continue to write, and speak to our community. Our Keynote (Apple’s version of PowerPoint) from a recent presentation to the Massachusetts Probate and Family Inn of Court, called “The Seven Sins of Alimony” is linked here. It arises from many of our alimony-themed blog entries of last year; and we combine information, some commentary and questions raised about the state of play in Massachusetts’ evolving “alimony reform”.

So we may be seniors, but no, we are not graduating from anything. We look forward to another great year of learning, writing and private dispute resolution; enjoyment of our growing families; and, definitely, more movie discounts.

Part Three: The Blog

To show that are not just about alimony, we feature today four recent blogs that demonstrate our substantive breadth: from parenting coordinators to matrimonial torts, and from mediation refusal to Charles Manson’s wedding celebration. On the last, don’t feel badly: our invitation hasn’t arrived yet, either.

Well, there is one on alimony, too, since the Appeals Court got an early start in the new year.

Please enjoy and feel free to comment.

We wish you a great 2015; and for the world, at least, a better one than the year it just survived.

Bill and Chouteau

Another Rehabilitative Alimony Case Highlights Important Issues, But Muddles Need Further: Vedensky v. Vedensky – Part 1


The New Year began with the January 2d release of an alimony case, Vedensky v. Vedensky, by the Massachusetts Appeals Court. It is noticeable for several reasons:  read more...

SJC Authorizes Parenting Coordinators, Just Not the Kind that Most People Want Bower v. Bournay-Bower


In the recent case Bower v. Bournay-Bower, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) authorized Probate and Family Court judges to impose a parenting coordinator on parties in “appropriate circumstances”.   read more...

Where Helter Skelter Meets Family Law: Wedding Planner Wanted


READER WARNING: This not a bit from The Onion. Unfortunately, it is real.

From the November 19, 2014 issue of The Boston Globe (page A2), reported by the AP, without the slightest hint of irony: The answer is “no”. read more...

Post-divorce Tort Suit: Kelso v. Kelso A Concern for Divorce Mediators and Circular Reasoning?


The Massachusetts Appeals Court recently reversed a Superior Court judge’s dismissal of a lawsuit for dollar damages brought by an ex-husband against his former wife, after a fully litigated divorce judgment had issued, in Kelso v. Kelso. The technical details could only be interesting to lawyers, parsing claim and issue preclusion, and yielding the result that even though the divorce judge had heard may of the same facts that were alleged in the follow on lawsuit, and had awarded fees to the husband in light of those facts, that none of the legal claims now pressed were at issue in the divorce case. read more...

Is Filing Suit a “Refusal to Mediate”? Not Necessarily in New England


As divorce mediators, we don’t often have the opportunity to comment on federal law cases, but the recent case Michael Thompson v. Nancy Cloud; Michael Miles, an opinion of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, is an exception. In an appeal from the U.S. District Court for the District of Maine, the First Circuit, whose opinions bind the New England states, upheld a trial judge’s decision to deny a counterclaim for damages, where the claimant felt aggrieved because the opposing party had brought suit, in a construction controversy, without first mediating the matter.  read more...

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781.708.4445 | 413.341.1017 | Email: wmlevine@levinedisputeresolution.com

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