Skip to main content

What do you think of Hampshire County's "Special Procedure's for Cases Involving Children"

On April 7, 2010, the Chief Justice of the Probate and Family Courts in Massachusetts, Paula M. Carey, signed Standing Order 1-10: Special Procedures for Cases Involving Children. That order sets out the details for a pilot program in the Hampshire Division of the Probate and Family Court. The pilot program is intended to provide special services and requirements related to the resolution of child-related issues in any case involving children (such as Divorce, Separate Support, Paternity, Support/Custody/Visitation, Modification, Contempt, Guardianship and Termination of Parental Rights cases).

The order requires, among other things, that attorneys and parents/care-givers attempt to solve parenting related problems before seeking the assistance of the court, and to conduct themselves in a way that recognizes the unique issues involved in child-related cases.

More specifically, the order requires that parties and their attorneys participate in an "Introductory Meeting", no later than 45 days after the filing of Answer and/or prior to any Motion hearing. Essentially, the court is requiring a 4-way (similar to that required prior to a Pre-Trial) to try and force parties to work out parenting issues prior to presenting them to the Court.

The order also encourages people to seek the assistance of other professionals as necessary to assist in the proper development of parenting and care-giver plans.

These requirements will increase initial attorney's fees and costs to clients. The benefits to the children, however, could be substantial by focusing early on how a court case (such as a divorce case) affects the children, and trying to address these issues early.

For further information on this program, its origins and its goals readThe Origins of a Child Focused Family Court Model. written by Gail L. Perlman, the First Justice of the Hampshire Division of the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court. The article is available on page 3 of the Spring 2010 issue of the Family Mediation Quarterly.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

What is the purpose of the Divorce Nisi waiting period?

In Massachusetts the statutory waiting period after a Judgment of Divorce and before the divorce becomes final (or absolute) is called the Nisi period. After a divorce case settles or goes to trial, a Judgment of Divorce Nisi will issue and it will become Absolute after a further ninety (90) days. This waiting period serves the purpose of allowing parties to change their mind before the divorce becomes final. If the Judgment of Divorce Nisi has issued but not become final yet, and you and your spouse decide you don't want to get divorced, then you can file a Motion to Dismiss and the Judgment will be undone. Although many of my clients who are getting divorced think the idea of getting back together with their ex sounds crazy, I have had cases where this happened. In addition to offering a grace period to change your mind, the Nisi period has three other legal effects: 1. The most obvious effect of the waiting period is that you cannot remarry during the Nisi period, be

Does a Criminal Record affect Child Custody?

If one of the parents in a custody case has a criminal record, the types of crimes on their record could have an effect on their chances of obtaining custody. In custody cases the issue is always going to come down to whether or not the best interests of the child might be affected. In the most extreme case, in which one parent has been convicted of first degree murder of the other parent, the law specifically prohibits visitation with the children until they are of a suitable age to assent. Similarly, but to a less serious degree, in making custody and visitation determinations the court will consider crimes that would cause one to question the fitness of a parent. These types of crimes would obviously include any violent crime convictions which could call into question whether the children would be in danger around a parent who has shown themselves to resort to violence when faced with conflict. In addition, drug and alcohol abuse offenses would call into question a parent&#

What happens after my Divorce Agreement is approved by a Judge?

If you filed a Joint Petition for Divorce in Massachusetts then you will participate in an uncontested divorce hearing and the Judge will then issue Findings of Fact the day of the hearing.  A Judgment of Divorce Nisi will issue after thirty (30) days, and it will become Absolute after a further ninety (90) days. This means that if you file a Joint Petition for Divorce you are not legally and officially divorced until 120 days after the divorce hearing date. If you filed a Complaint for Divorce  then your case will end either with a trial (if you don't settle) or an uncontested divorce hearing (if you settle).  If you reach an Agreement, then a Judgment of Divorce Nisi will issue and be effective as of the date of the uncontested divorce hearing, and it will become Absolute after a further ninety (90) days. This means that if you file a Complaint for Divorce you are not legally and officially divorced until 90 days after the divorce hearing date. Therefore, for 90 - 120 day