Online Mediation of High Conflict Cases

Attorney Karen J. Levitt Panelist at October 2020 APFM Conference with Bill Eddy, Sean Weber, and Michael Lomax: Online Mediation of High Conflict Cases

Attorney Karen J. Levitt is joining mediators Bill Eddy, Shawn Weber, and Michael Lomax as a panelist on a program entitled “High Conflict Personalities in Online Mediation”, to be presented at the Academy of  Professional Family Mediator’s (APFM) annual conference which is taking place October 16-17, 2020.  Attorney Levitt’s panel is scheduled for Saturday, October 17, 2020, at 2:30 pm EST.  Levitt will talk about mediating with high conflict personalities online from the “feet on the ground” perspective. As an attorney who mediates and does other forms of dispute resolution such as Collaborative Law, Levitt also litigates, providing in online mediation the court perspective which can help parties positively negotiate while understanding the legal framework for negotiations. Continue reading “Online Mediation of High Conflict Cases”

Lawyers Have Heart! 2020

Help Save a Life and Support Health Care Professionals During COVID – 19 with Lawyers Have Heart!

Attorney Karen J. Levitt is participating in a virtual 5k on June 12, 2020, with Lawyers Have Heart, for the American Heart Association (AHA).  The goal is to benefit hospitals and health care professionals during Covid-19, who provide necessary care to Covid-19 patients.  To donate, go to: https://www2.heart.org/site/TR/HeartWalk/FDA-FoundersAffiliate?px=3458309&pg=personal&fr_id=5487.  We appreciate any and all donations!  Here is some information provided by the American Heart Association:

“The need for the mission of the American Heart Association is greater than ever before. Your support helps the AHA fill urgent training gaps for hospitals who are immediately improvising in response to overwhelming patient volume and provides guidelines through registries that help identify and manage COVID-19 patients. The Association has recently launched a free oxygenation and ventilation course to help doctors treat COVID-19 patients. These resources are critical to saving lives and improving patient care especially for the over 120 million Americans who live with cardiovascular disease and are at a higher risk for complications if they contract coronavirus.

To minimize COVID-19’s impact on the public health of Greater Boston, the American Heart Association has activated its full organizational strength to combat the spread of the virus and address the vulnerability of heart and stroke patients, caregivers, healthcare professionals and underserved populations. Here are some areas they are focusing on:
– Access to Healthy Food
– CPR
– Access to Care
– Workplace Health
– Keeping Kids Healthy
– Research

The American Heart Association funds $35.5 million in research across 100 studies in Massachusetts alone.  In response to the coronavirus pandemic, we have established a $2.5 million rapid research fund to fast-track scientific research to better understand COVID-19 and its interaction with cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases. Specifically, the Association will be offering fast-tracked research grants for short-term projects that can turn around results within 9-12 months to better understand the diagnosis, prevention, treatment and clinical management of COVID-19 as it relates to heart and brain health.”

You can follow everything the AHA is doing at www.heart.org/coronavirus/ .

 

Racial Injustice and the Courts

Self-Reflection – Racial Injustice and the Courts: By Karen J. Levitt
As an attorney and the founder of The Levitt Law Group, LLC,  I speak for our entire firm in believing it is important to recognize the importance of the recent events surrounding the death of George Floyd.  The events leading up to his death, and the events after his death, raise many issues about law, bias, culture, racism, diversity, equality, and justice and the need for all lawyers and the judiciary to continue to be aware of the interplay of those issues in the legal system.   

The 14th Amendment to the Constitution states in part:  “…No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”  We also all have a right to free speech, as provided for in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

 The judicial branch of government, which is one of our three branches of government, is where these two amendments, and justice and equality under the law, often play out for millions of people in America.  Meeting the needs of the public for access to justice, and ensuring that the courts are available to all, is not an easy task nor for the faint of heart – yet lawyers and the judiciary and their staff work hard to meet those needs and honor the values underlying the Constitution and our American legal system.   On June 3, 2020, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issued a letter to all attorneys and members of the judiciary with a powerful message, which we at the Levitt Law Group, LLC want to share with you: https://www.mass.gov/news/letter-from-the-seven-justices-of-the-supreme-judicial-court-to-members-of-the-judiciary-and

 As United States Supreme Court justice Lewis Powell, Jr. once said: “Equal justice under law is not merely a caption on the facade of the Supreme Court building; it is perhaps the most inspiring ideal of our society. It is one of the ends for which our entire legal system exists.”

 I have always been, and continue to be,  proud to be a part of a profession where equality and justice matter, even when we don’t always get it right.  What matters is that we keep trying.  The letter from the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, coming from the highest court in our state, was a reason to self-reflect, to think about how we can all do better, and be better.

Families First Divorce Webinar

On Wednesday, June 10, 2020, from 2:00 p.m. – 2:45 p.m., Attorney Karen J. Levitt, of the Levitt Law Group, LLC, along with Attorneys Cynthia Runge and Sonja Starins, and financial advisors Janice Berner and Rich Wallner, are giving a webinar regarding various divorce and family law issues during Covid – 19.  This program is open to the public.  For more information and to register, go to: Divorce Webinar USA 500 Clubs

The program will be in two parts.  The first part will be about domestic violence and physical safety.  The second part featuring Karen, Janice and Rich, will focus on financial safety when contemplating divorce.  With the Courts largely closed except for emergencies and other limited actions, for those contemplating divorce this is a very difficult time.  Not only are people at home with each other in ways they weren’t before, but their children are too, they may have suffered a job loss or reduction, and they can feel overwhelmed with no immediate path forward.  The risk of domestic violence is heightened; financial safety is also challenged with the current economic uncertainty and volatility.  How can we help people find a path forward with respect to financial safety and planning when contemplating divorce during Covid – 19?  What does financial safety mean, and how does it affect the decision about how and when to get divorced?  Join Attorney Karen J. Levitt in the webinar and hear from her and her colleagues about these important issues.

The webinar is being presented by the USA500 Family Law Consortium of which Attorney Levitt is a co-facilitator.  For more information about USA500, go to www.usa500clubs.com.

We hope you can attend!

Modification of Alimony and Child Support during Covid-19 and Beyond

Many things change after divorce – people move, change jobs, get laid off, children get older and have different needs such as college expenses, and more.  Covid-19 is affecting many people’s lives, and impacting their work as well as their financial health.

Covid-19 may force a re-evaluation of certain terms of divorce or other judgments, and require a modification of the judgment.  While there may be limitations to modifying your judgment because of language in your specific agreement or the terms of your divorce or other judgment, Massachusetts law generally provides that a party can seek modification of a prior court judgment including alimony and/or child support if there has been a material change of circumstances.  Covid-19 for some people may result in a material change of circumstance where job loss or reduction in hours makes it impossible for a party to meet financial obligations ordered by the Court. Continue reading “Modification of Alimony and Child Support during Covid-19 and Beyond”

How To Prepare for Divorce – Get Unstuck

In the midst of Covid-19, many people feel “stuck” – stuck at home with their spouse or partner but wanting to end the relationship.  With the Courts temporarily closed, people may feel there is “nowhere to go”.  There are ways in which you can start the process of divorce without court, and find a way to become “unstuck”.   You can start preparing for divorce or other family law process without going to Court, and using the time you do have to make preparations for moving forward.  How do you prepare? Continue reading “How To Prepare for Divorce – Get Unstuck”

Circumstance = Opportunity

Use Mediation or Collaborative Law for Resolving Divorce Out of Court

Albert Einstein said, “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity”.  With limited access to the Courts right now due to Covid-19, why not try to resolve your divorce or other family law conflict out of court?

You don’t have to wait for the Courts to reopen, and in fact you shouldn’t – even when they open, they have a back log and it will take some time for your case to move through the Court system. You can turn these extraordinary circumstances in which we are currently living,  into an opportunity to resolve your case using an out of court dispute resolution process such as Mediation or Collaborative Law.

In Mediation you hire a neutral third party who is usually an attorney, who works with you and your spouse to resolve your differences and reach agreement.

In Collaborative Law, both you and your spouse have attorneys at the table who are advocates not adversaries, and who take a settlement approach rather than the litigation route to help  you and your spouse reach a mutually beneficial agreement for the family. Continue reading “Circumstance = Opportunity”

Training Future Collaborative Law Professionals

Karen J. Levitt, Levitt Law Group, LLC, will once again be part of the faculty for training future Collaborative Law professionals, at the Massachusetts Collaborative Law Council annual basic interdisciplinary training. This year’s two-day training will take place at the Ocean Edge Resort, Brewster, MA, on September 24-25, 2020.  Karen and her fellow faculty members spend two days in an interactive training program that immerses participants in the theory and practice of Collaborative Law, both in divorce and family law and other areas of practice such as probate and business.  The program combines lecture with role plays and discussion for an interesting and lively two days of training.  To see who will be joining Karen as faculty and to register, go to https://massclc.org/civicrm/event/info%3Fid%3D720%26reset%3D1

Divorce Settlement Options when Parties have a Large Age Discrepancy

Karen J. Levitt, Levitt Law Group, LLC will be presenting with Susan Miller, Managing Director & Senior Wealth Advisor at The Colony Group, Wellesley, MA, at an MCLC Tri River Practice Group meeting in September 2020.  The topic will be  “Does Age Matter? – Settlement Options when Parties have a Large Age Discrepancy”.  In many of our divorce cases, there is a significant age difference between the parties. This presents challenges with regard to asset division and support, as one party is going to be in retirement much sooner than the other with a reduced ability to acquire future assets and income.  This creates concerns around all sorts of issues, such as asset division, child support and alimony, and health and life insurance.   Cases with significant age differences between the parties require a critical evaluation of all the issues, and a close review of the financial options available to the parties to ensure an equitable division of assets and liabilities and a division of income that provides for both parties and their children. The use of a financial professional can be helpful evaluating the types of financial projections that may be necessary to appreciate the complexities in these cases, and to help with resolution of the issues.  Attending the meeting to hear Karen and Susan speak will be lawyers, mental health professionals, and financial professionals who all work in divorce and family law.

Massachusetts Court Required Parenting Education Program in Divorce and other Family Law Actions

Massachusetts Probate and Family Court Standing Order 2-16, which can be found at https://www.mass.gov/doc/probate-and-family-court-standing-order-2-16-parent-education-program-attendance/download, requires all parties to a divorce action, and at the Court’s discretion parties in other types of actions such as paternity or contempt, to participate in a Parent Education Program.  The program is only required if the parties have minor children under 18.

The purpose of the program is to give parties with children some tools to help them work together for the best interest of their children post-divorce.  This includes information that will help the parties with co-parenting after divorce, such as giving them some information about child development issues to help children cope with divorce and providing tools that may help the parties have more effective c-parenting communications and therefore less conflict. Continue reading “Massachusetts Court Required Parenting Education Program in Divorce and other Family Law Actions”