Attorneys Karen J. Levitt, Andrea M. Wells, and Emily A. Weber attended the 2018 Excellence in the Law event hosted by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly at the Marriott Long Wharf Hotel in Boston on May 10, 2018. The 2018 Excellence in the Law event celebrated excellence in in the legal community and honored individuals in the following categories: Up & Coming Lawyers, Excellence in Firm Administration/Operations, Marketing, Paralegal Work, Legal Journalism and Pro Bono. Attorney Emily A. Weber was chosen this year as a one of the Up & Coming Lawyers honorees. The Up and Coming Lawyers so honored are attorneys who have been members of the Massachusetts Bar for 10 years or less, yet have already distinguished themselves as rising stars in the practice of law. Attorney Emily A. Weber’s award is well deserved, and the Levitt Law Group is proud to have Attorney Weber as part of its team. In 2016 Attorney Karen J. Levitt was honored for Excellence in Alternative Dispute Resolution.
Attorney Emily A. Weber has been honored as a “2018 Up & Coming Lawyer” by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly. Attorneys selected as “Up and Coming Lawyers” have been members of the Massachusetts Bar for 10 years or less, yet have already distinguished themselves as rising stars in the practice of law. The Levitt Law Group is proud to have Emily as one of the honorees, it is well deserved. Emily will be recognized for her legal accomplishments at the annual 2018 Excellence in the Law Event held on May 10, 2018 at the Marriott Long Wharf Hotel in Boston. Congratulations Emily!
Attorney Emily A. Weber is serving as a member of a newly formed committee formed by First Justice of the Middlesex Probate Court, Edward F. Donnelly, Jr., in conjunction with Chief Justice of the Probate and Family Court Angela M. Ordonez, to work on the establishment of a full-time Probate and Family Court session in Lowell beginning in 2019.
The new Lowell Justice Center, which is currently under construction in downtown Lowell, will provide state of the art facilities for the Probate and Family Court, along with the Superior, District, Juvenile, and Housing Courts of Middlesex County. The newly formed committee will address and make recommendations on the catchment areas for the new Lowell session and for the existing session, now held in Cambridge, and staffing and training of the court employees who will work for the Probate and Family Court in Lowell.
The Levitt Law Group is pleased to announce that Attorney Emily A. Weber has been selected by the Women’s Bar Association to participate in its 2017-2018 Women’s Leadership Initiative class. The Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI) was established in 2009 and recognizes up and coming stars of the legal profession who are six to twelve years into their legal careers. The year-long program provides participants with mentoring and leadership development opportunities, while connecting them with leaders in the community. There will also be opportunities to work with role models and one another, build networks, and be exposed to leadership positions. WLI alumni include Attorney General Maura Healey and other high-ranking law firm partners, government attorneys and in-house counsel. This year the program will be led by Mary Ryan, partner at Nutter McClennen & Fish LLP and Jayne Tyrrell, Director of the Massachusetts IOLTA Committee.
WBA President Michele Ballie said “The WBA is proud that Emily Weber is a member of this new class of the Women’s Leadership Initiative. The program is directly aligned with the organization’s goal of advancing women in the profession. We are grateful to have the opportunity to include such a promising group in this program.” The selection of Attorney Emily A. Weber demonstrates her proven talent and her promise as a future leader in the legal profession, and is also a reflection on the Levitt Law Group. The Levitt Law Group is thrilled that Attorney Weber, one of our own group of talented attorneys, has been given this honor. Congratulations Emily!
On June 4, 2015, Attorney Emily Weber attended the 5th Annual Super Marketing Conference co-hosted by the Massachusetts Law Office Management Assistance Program (LOMAP) and the American Bar Association’s Law Practice Division. This year’s conference focused on social marketing strategies in recognition of the fact that the internet, specifically social media, has drastically changed the way in which attorneys educate the public about the services they offer. The conference featured both nationally-recognized legal marketing experts, as well as Massachusetts attorneys and other professionals.
Attorney Emily Weber has been selected to fill the Family Law Attorney seat with the Burlington, Massachusetts chapter of BNI (Business Network International). Only one member from each professional specialty is chosen to join each BNI chapter. BNI is the largest business networking organization in the world with over 170,000 members worldwide.
At the March 2015 Massachusetts Collaborative Law Council Annual Meeting, Attorney Emily Weber was elected to the organization’s Board of Directors, along with Linda Cohan, MSW, CSC, Attorney Jeffrey Fink, and Cathy Heenan, Ed.D. Emily looks forward to continuing her work with the organization in further developing the practice of Collaborative Law in Massachusetts. In addition to serving on the Board of Directors, Emily was named Chair of the Advanced Training Subcommittee for 2015-2016. Emily is joined on the subcommittee by Attorneys Patrice Brymner and Karen Levitt, and Dr. Allison Bell, Psy.D. Emily also continues as Co-Chair of the Tri-River Practice Group with Karen Levitt.
On May 1, 2015, MCLC’s Advanced Training Subcommittee hosted an Advanced Training Forum, “Money Talks: What Does it Say & What Does it Really Mean?” In addition to working with the rest of the subcommittee to organize the Forum, Emily also co-presented a workshop at the Forum.
Attorney Emily Weber is a member of the Junior League of Boston, an organization of women committed to promoting volunteerism and developing women’s potential in the community.
Through the organization, members have the opportunity to volunteer either with an internal or community placement. This year Emily is looking forward to volunteering with JL Boston Arts, a group mentoring program that provides girls in the fifth grade from Excel Academy in East Boston with exposure to art-related disciplines with the goal of encouraging creativity, promoting teamwork, and developing confidence.
Attorney Emily Weber has been named as Co-Chair of the Massachusetts Collaborative Law Council’s Advanced Training Committee with Clinical Psychologist Gina Arons for 2014-2015.
Emily is excited to join Dr. Arons and the other committee members, Certified Financial Planner Jessie Foster, and Attorneys Dawn Effron, Cynthia Runge, Vicki Shemin, and Karen Levitt, in organizing trainings, workshops, and presentations for Collaborative Law Professionals interested in developing their Collaborative Law skills and building the Collaborative Law community. In May of 2014, MCLC’s Advanced Training Committee organized a widely successful workshop on “The Power of Expectations in Conflict Resolution: Managing Multiple Mindsets.” Congratulations Emily!
A party may file a Complaint for Contempt when they believe another party is not complying with an existing Court Order or Judgment.
Contempts are not uncommon in family law, and are frequently seen when a party is failing to pay court-ordered child support or alimony, or there is some other non-compliance related to a parenting plan or asset division; however, any non-compliance with a Court Order or Judgment can be the basis of a Contempt.
There are two types of contempt: Civil Contempt and Criminal Contempt. In family law we traditionally see Civil Contempts, as the goal is not so much punishment, but for the other party to comply with the Court Order; for example, by getting the other party to pay their child support as ordered. With a Civil Contempt the Court can still order attorney’s fees or other sanctions as part of any contempt judgment.
A Complaint for Contempt is a separate action from a Divorce action or Paternity action; however, often the actions may run concurrently. For example, if a divorce is pending and there are temporary orders for child support, if the responsible party isn’t paying, the aggrieved party could file a Complaint for Contempt to seek compliance with Court Orders. Other times, parties may already be divorced, and a party may need to file a Complaint for Contempt due to the other party failing to comply with the terms of the divorce agreement.
Proof of Contempt
For the Court to find a party in Civil Contempt, the standard of proof is high. The Court requires a “clear and unequivocal command and an equally clear and undoubted disobedience.” Larson v. Larson, 28 Mass.App.Ct. 338, 340, 551 N.E.2d 43, 44 (1990). If a Court Order is not clear, even though both parties may know the intent, the Court will not be able to find a party in Contempt. It is vital when a party is entering into an agreement that they wish to become a Court Order, such as a Divorce Agreement, that the language is clear, both so that parties know exactly what they are agreeing to, and also so that the Court can enforce the Order should a Contempt be necessary.
Sanctions for Contempt
The Court has broad powers to enter orders in a Contempt action in order to gain compliance with Court Orders. With respect to the common example of a party failing to pay child support, the Court may find a party in Contempt and order them to jail for a period of time, or until they pay a portion of the monies owed in order to “purge” themselves of the Contempt. Sometimes the threat of incarceration is enough incentive for a person to comply with a court order.
The Court also has the power to award attorney’s fees or other sanctions such as reimbursement for lost time from work. Even if the Court does not feel that the standard for Contempt has been satisfied, the Court may enter other orders to address whatever underlying issue has resulted in the filing of Contempt complaint.
Defenses for Contempt
Parties should also be aware that there are defenses to a Contempt action. For a party facing a Contempt action for failure to pay alimony or child support, the party may be able to defend successfully against the Contempt if they show they have an inability to pay, for example if they were laid off from their employment, or they may be able to prove that they did comply with the court orders or have a legitimate reason for non-compliance.
Reaching a Settlement
The process of going through a Contempt action can be bittersweet. Even if the end result is monetary or other relief for a party that desperately needs it, that same party may be back in court again, sometimes for the same reason. It is important to work hard to reach agreements or settlements that both parties can live with…and live up to.