Monday, March 30, 2009

New Massachusetts Divorce Law Blogs

Thanks to Kyra Crusco at the New Hampshire Family Law Blog for calling my attention to the fact that Nancy Van Tine, one of the very best and most experienced family law practitioners in Boston, has just started a new Massachusetts divorce law blog, the Massachusetts Divorce Law Monitor. Also my friend Steve Zlochiver, another excellent, experienced family law attorney in the Boston area, recently called my attention to the fact he too now has a blog, the Massachusetts Divorce Lawyer Blog. Add 'em to your blogroll, bookmark 'em, subscribe to their feeds. I'm always happy to see more blogs from which I will be able to borrow (steal?) ideas for my own blog!

For information about Massachusetts divorce and family law, see the divorce and family law page of my law firm website.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Recession, Pink Slips, and Child Support

Yes, we're in a recession, and that's obvious in family court, where pink slips have resulted in more child support modification cases: Fighting Over Child Support After the Pink Slip Arrives -

For information about Massachusetts divorce and family law, see the divorce and family law page of my law firm website.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Gay Marriage Coming Soon to Vermont? New Hampshire?

New England continues to be center stage in the gay marriage debate.

Both Vermont and New Hampshire each have legislative proposals that were recently approved by one of their legislative bodies to legalize gay or same-sex marriage. See yesterday's New York Times article, Gay Marriage, Set Back in One State, Gains in a 2nd -

New Hampshire's House of Representatives just narrowly approved its gay marriage bill this past Thursday, and its Senate may consider a similar bill but prospects do not appear to be good in this more conservative-leaning state. Vermont's Senate overwhelmingly approved its own bill the Friday before last, and its House is already actively considering a similar proposal. But both states have governors who are likely to veto the bills if they come before them. Governor Jim Douglas of Vermont has already stated he will veto the Vermont bill if it comes to his desk.

Vermont was the first state to legalize gay and lesbian civil unions. New Hampshire only created civil unions this past year. If the other legislative bodies also approve the bills in each state, and then can override the probable vetoes by their governors, then we will see a further expansion of gay marriage in this region.

It would hardly be a surprise to see one of these New England states become the next to join Massachusetts and Connecticut, as the only states currently and fully santioning the legal formation of gay and lesbian marriages. My bet would be on Vermont. Maybe not this year, but eventually.

For information about Massachusetts divorce and family law, see the divorce and family law page of my law firm website.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Best Divorce Cartoon

A colleague, who happens to be a psychotherapist and not a lawyer, just gave me a copy of the following New Yorker Divorce Cartoon a few days ago. The cartoon is very good and to publish it here I would have to pay more than I am willing to pay for the license, so if you want to see it, you will have to follow my link. But I may have to order a print of this myself.

The cartoon, by Mick Stevens, appeared in the January 12, 2009 New Yorker, and was part of the magazine's Caption Contest. It appeared with the following winning caption, suggested by reader Ann Seger of Chicago, Illinois: "For a divorce case, that went smoothly."

By the way (and to relate this to my last post), if this cartoon looks like it could serve as the illustration for your impending divorce, you are definitely not a candidate for do-it-yourself divorce.

For information about Massachusetts divorce and family law, see the divorce and family law page of my law firm website.

A Fool for a Client? More on DIY Divorce

Now it is often said that he who represents himself has a fool for a client. But is that always true? When something very important is at stake, the answer is usually yes.

However, I was just quoted in today's Boston Globe, by relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein, in her short piece DIY divorce: Is it a good idea? - The Boston Globe. I appear in the article as the attorney who surprised the reporter by favoring do it yourself (DIY) divorce in some cases. Unfortunately, given the shortness of the article, my view that most divorces require legal representation, and that DIY divorces are only advisable, or even possible, in a limited number cases where there is really little in dispute, probably did not come through clearly enough. But the important counterpoint was provided by Attorney Laurie Israel, my friend from Brookline. Of course I think there are important truths in the comments by both of us.

If you're interested in the subject, see my previous post Massachusetts Divorce & Family Law Blog: NOLO, Its New Divorce Blog, and Do It Yourself Divorce and also see the Massachusetts Trial Court Law Library's blog post from back in January, discussing and linking to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court's recent report on self-represented litigants: Massachusetts Law Updates: Self-Represented Litigants Report.

The fact is many people are taking their divorces, and family law representation, into their own hands, whether we like it or not. As a result our court system is reacting. Eventually, perhaps, there will be more unbundling of legal services, after the current experimentation with such unbundling of legal services in a few counties in Massachusetts has been sufficiently tested so that the results will give a greater degree of comfort to the judges, lawyers and clients who are trying this out, and consequently also to those of us who have not yet tried this out.

I do not believe one size fits all.

The longer I practice, and the more people I see, the more I am convinced that some people need no lawyers, while others should use a mediator, others could make very brief and efficient use of attorneys outside of court (unbundled legal services), others would be wise to choose collaborative lawyers, and still others should use more traditional divorce lawyers, and yes, sometimes even very aggressive trial lawyers who will have to take their cases all the way to trial.

I do imagine that some day it will not seem odd to find other trial lawyers, like me, who can openly acknowledge that many people should in fact handle their divorces on their own, or with minimal help from a mediator or a few attorneys outside of court.

For information about Massachusetts divorce and family law, see the divorce and family law page of my law firm website.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Dine and Dump

Advice columnist Meredith Goldstein of the Boston Globe had a great column this past week on "finding the perfect dumping grounds," exploring the art of picking the right restaurant in which to break up with your partner:
Finding the perfect dumping grounds - The Boston Globe.

Taking one's spouse to a nice restaurant and breaking the news over dinner is probably a better way to break up than completely surprising your spouse by sending a constable to serve him or her with divorce papers. Still, I don't know. There are some obvious, potential problems, as noted in the article. Indeed, there are many ways to break up, and probably none is easy.

Apparently Zagat has already published guides to the best restaurant dumping grounds in New York and Los Angeles. If you can't wait for Zagat to get around to publishing its guide for Boston, for now you'll have to read Meredith Goldstein's column for her ideas on the best dumping grounds here in Beantown. What would the criteria be, you wonder? What would make a restaurant a good place to dump your partner?

Well, one of the more interesting criteria, mentioned by the Zagat people and in the Boston Globe column, is the accessibility of exits. You've heard of the phrase "Dine and Dash"? If this style of dumping one's partner really catches on, maybe we will need even more the phrase "Dine and Dump" or even "Dine and Dump and Dash."

For information about Massachusetts divorce and family law, see the divorce and family law page of my law firm website.