For Immediate Release - September 23, 2013

Probate and Family Court Announces Pilot Program Offering Free Settlement Conferences

Probate and Family Court Chief Justice Angela M. Ordoñez today announced the creation of a pilot program designed to settle cases where the majority of the contested issues have already been resolved.

"I am excited to get the Limited Issues Settlement Conference pilot program off the ground," Chief Justice Ordoñez said. "I have high hopes that this free program will be of great benefit to parties who are interested in settling cases without the time and financial burden necessary to bring a case to trial. Additionally, I believe this will reduce the number of status conference hearings, and expedite the judicial process overall."

The Limited Issues Settlement Conference (LISC) program is envisioned as a judicial case management tool intended to bring parties and counsel together, by agreement, to settle any kind of Probate and Family Court matter, with the involvement and expertise of an active or retired judge of the Probate and Family Court. Potential cases range from divorce settlements, child custody and support issues, and will contests, to guardianships of children or the elderly, among others. To be eligible to request a conference, the parties to the case need to have been before the court on at least one prior occasion, one side must be represented by counsel, and the parties must agree to bring a working agreement to the scheduled hearing.

The LISC program is intended to assist the parties in resolving outstanding issues. If complete resolution is achieved at the conference, a decree or judgment necessary to conclude the matter will enter immediately after the conference thus saving parties, counsel, and the courts from additional expense of time and money in preparation for, and presentation of, a trial.

Cases pending in any county may participate in this process. The conferences will be held on the first Friday of each month at the Norfolk Probate and Family Court in Canton. The first conference session will be held on November 1, 2013. Free parking is available at the conference site.

More details about the program pdf format of Limited Issues Settlement Conference (LISC)
, and the form pdf format of Limited Issues Settlement Conference (CJD 114)
file size 1MB that needs to be completed for consideration and scheduling, are available online. After reviewing the request form and the pilot program's guidelines, those with questions may contact Jocelynne D. Welsh, Esq., at jocelynne.welsh@jud.state.ma.us.