SJC Decision Regarding Parent Coordinators: What You Need to Know

I was in my office last week when I heard shrieks of joy coming from down the hall. (We really should have a bell or something we ring for a big win – this yelling is so unprofessional.) My colleagues Sue Stenger, Francine Gardikas, Laura StudenRobin Lynch Nardone and Andrea Dunbar had just gotten the SJC decision on the case on parent coordinators. Here is Robin’s take on what that case means for families and children in Massachusetts.



On September 15, 2014 the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) decided a case of first impression on the issue of whether a court can appoint a Parenting Coordinator. A Parenting Coordinator (PC) is a mental health professional or legal professional who assists high-conflict parents to implement their parenting plan by facilitating the resolution of their disputes. In Bower v. Bournay-Bower, the Probate and Family Court appointed a PC even though the mother did not want a PC and objected to the judge’s suggestion that one was warranted in this case.

Over the mother’s objection, the court appointed a PC with authority to make binding decisions on matters of custody and visitation. The Order provided … Keep reading

Grandparent Visitation During and After Divorce

Hi there,

Fireworks grandfather grandchildI hope all of you are enjoying the weather this beautiful Fourth of July week. I took the week off to help care for my grandkids  – there is nothing better!

I cannot imagine how tough it must be as a grandparent to find yourself in the position of having to ask a judge for time with your grandchildren. Thankfully, in most cases grandparents see their grandchildren when the kids are in the custody of their parent (the grandparent’s child), but not always.

If you are one of those unfortunate grandparents, here is a very good article by my partner, Robin Lynch Nardone, which recently appeared on

“Massachusetts law allows grandparents to seek visitation rights with their unmarried, minor grandchildren in certain circumstances. General Law Chapter 119, Section 39D provides that if the child’s parents are divorced, living apart under a temporary court order, if one or both parents is deceased, or if the parents were never married (but paternity has been established) and the parents are living apart, a court may give a grandparent reasonable visitation if it is in the best interests of the child. Interestingly, when the parents are living together, … Keep reading

Halloween Parenting Tips

Happy Halloween!

Gypsy McSweeneyWhile this day can be a bit of a challenge for divorced or divorcing parents, it’s one of the most exciting days of the year for kids (and pets, according to my colleague Beth Waterfall-McSweeney and her cat, Gypsy).

On Halloween it all comes down to keeping it fun for the kids — it’s a kids’ holiday so keep the grown-up drama out of it. This article has some good parenting tips for ex-spouses on Halloween, including the following, which I couldn’t agree with more:

“Put your children first. Remember this is their fun day, so don’t lose perspective and hold tight to a visitation schedule that may force them to spend their time away from their friends simply because it’s your designated time with your child. In truth, it’s not your time or your ex’s time… it’s your child’s time.”


Nancy… Keep reading

Hi there!

As I started trying to find my tablecloths for Thanksgiving (it’s amazing what you lose when you move), I realized the holiday season was upon us and while I love this time personally, as a divorce lawyer it is both very hard and very busy.  This is the season where parents have to figure out how to share the kids over some of the most important family days of the year.  Thanksgiving, Hanukkah (I know that isn’t the most important, but to the kids its up there) and Christmas.  If you are divorcing or divorced and haven’t already handled this for this year, now is the time to work out the schedule with your ex.

Some folks, no matter how bitter, seem to be able to pull back and think of the children and each other; however, many (some years it feels like most) cannot do this.  The result is expensive, time consuming and often results in a total loss of parental choice when the judge ultimately has to make the decision.  As with any judicial, rather than parental decision, the result generally makes no one happy.  It is far better to handle this the way Daniel ClementKeep reading