Skip to main content

Divorce Litigation Problems: The Judge Never Made a Decision

The Probate and Family Court in Massachusetts is underfunded and cannot handle the amount of litigants that seek relief there each year in as timely a manner as everyone would like.  The Court staff are not ignoring cases, but there just aren't enough court staff to handle the demand.  Because of these issues, the wait time for a hearing in most counties has increased significantly.

But finally after months and months of waiting your hearing is finally here.  The Judge hears your case and takes the issues under advisement.  And now the waiting begins again.  How long are you expected to wait for an answer from the Judge?  What happens if a decision is never made?  Or, even worse, if the decision was made but never recorded due to some clerical error?

In the past, our only option when these issues arose was to check in with the Judge's Lobby and find out if one of the Judge's secretaries could discover the delay.  Of course, this created more work for the staff, only making the problems worse.

To help alleviate the stress on their staff and give parties the formal ability to inquire about the status of their case, the Probate and Family Court has released the STATUS INQUIRY FORM (available here).

The form provides a formal way for parties (or their counsel) to inquire as to the status of a decision.  The form should be used only when the following decisions are at least this many days overdue:

  • 30 days since a Motion or Complaint for Contempt was taken under advisement.
  • 60 days since a Post Judgment Motion was taken under advisement.
  • 90 days since a Motion for Summary Judgment was taken under advisement.
  • 5 months since a Trial was taken under advisement.

While some have expressed concern regarding potential backlash of using this form, the form makes the contact information of the filer optional.  While, the court will obviously know that it was one of two parties, the Chief Justice has indicated that the individual courts are on board with the use of the form and have encouraged its use.

If you want to avoid these problems altogether, consider alternatives to litigation.

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&#

New Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines (2021): Big Changes, Little Changes, Typos & some Unexpected Results

UPDATE: The court has released a web calculating version of the 2021 MA Child Support Guidelines Worksheet .  It resolves some of the typos referred to below, but the unexpected calculations still apply. Every four years, per federal mandate, the Massachusetts Probate & Family Court revisits the Child Support Guidelines through the work of a Task Force appointed by the Chief Justice.  The 2021 Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines were recently posted.  They take effect on October 4, 2021.    If you are interested in a training on all of these changes to the new Child Support Guidelines: DMTA Presents the 2021 MA Child Support Guidelines Update  – Attend this event to learn the key updates you need to know for your mediation clients. Presented by Justin Kelsey of  Divorce Mediation Training Associates  and  Skylark Law & Mediation, PC . For a full comparison of all the  tracked changes between the 2018 and 2021 Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines you can download a pdf sho