The Norfolk County Probate and Family Court has jurisdiction over all Canton, Dedham, Quincy, and Needham divorce and paternity matters.
Additionally, the primary domestic relations matters - alimony, child support, custody, modifications, parenting plans, and temporary orders - in the following towns and cities also fall within the court's jurisdiction: Avon, Bellingham, Braintree, Brookline, Dover, Foxboro, Franklin, Medfield, Medway, Millis, Milton, Norfolk, Norwood, Plainville, Randolph, Sharon, Stoughton, Walpole, Wellesley, Westwood, Weymouth, and Wrentham.
Meet the Judges of the Norfolk County Probate & Family Court
The family court judges assigned to the Norfolk Division of the Probate and Family Court Department are: First Justice Angela M. Ordonez, the Honorable John D. Casey, Judge Jennifer Rivera-Ulwick, and the Honorable George F. Phelan.
Originally in Dedham Square, the courthouse is now located at 35 Shawmut Road in Canton. Each one of the judge's courtrooms is on the second floor (Judge Casey - Courtroom 1, Judge Ulwick - Courtroom 2, Judge Phelan - Courtroom 4, Judge Ordonez - Courtroom 5), and the probation department (also known as the family services office) is on the third floor.
Just like all of the other courthouses, Norfolk County has implemented the individual calendar system. Once a judge is assigned to your case, that judge will hear each of the matters related to the case, including post-divorce matters such as Complaints for Modification and Contempt.
Judicial assignments are normally made based on the last two digits of the four-digit numerical series in the middle of your docket number:
- Hon. Judge Phelan - 26-30, 46-50, 56-60, 66-70, 86-90
- Hon. Justice Casey - 31-35, 51-55, 71-75, 91-00
- Hon. Justice Rivera-Ulwick - 21-25, 36-45, 61-65, 81-85
- Hon. Justice Ordonez - 01-20, 76-80
The individual calendar system allows the judge in your case to handle the entire case, rather than another judge having to take time to get up to speed on the gist of your matter.
The Norfolk County Probate and Family Court
Is One of the Best Courts in Massachusetts!
Norfolk County has devised one of the best systems in the Commonwealth for keeping its large caseload moving. Two of the unique procedures the Court has in place are the use of tele-conferences put into place amongst judges, and a mandatory "next event" scheduling policy if the proceeding before the Court does not result in the matter being brought to final judgment.
Do I Need a Divorce Attorney for Canton, MA?
You can get divorced before any of these judges without having a lawyer represent you, but anybody who has gone through it would likely advise you against it. The paperwork is complex and can be considered overwhelming; moreover, you are taking an important step that has legal consequences that could affect you years later. This is not a time to be "penny wise and pound foolish."
Taking it to the next level, when you're before a Norfolk County judge, you should be represented by an attorney who is local - one who will know and be familiar with the individualized preferences of these four judges. While your objective is to find the best Massachusetts divorce lawyer you can afford, you also need to consider the benefits of a local attorney's expertise.
Once Massachusetts Divorce Begins, an
Automatic Restraining Order is in Effect
Once your case begins, Norfolk County divorce judges hold litigants accountable to Rule 411 - the automatic Asset Restraining Order. Accordingly:
(1) Neither party shall sell, transfer, encumber, conceal, assign, remove or in any way dispose of any property, real or personal, belonging to or acquired by, either party, except: (a) as required for reasonable expenses of living; (b) in the ordinary and usual course of business; (c) in the ordinary and usual course of investing; (d) for payment of reasonable attorney's fees and costs in connection with the action; (e) written agreement of both parties; or (f) by Order of the Court.
(2) Neither party shall incur any further debts that would burden the credit of the other party, including but not limited to further borrowing against any credit line secured by the marital residence or unreasonably using credit cards or cash advances against credit or bank cards;
(3) Neither party shall directly or indirectly change the beneficiary of any life insurance policy, pension or retirement plan, or pension or retirement investment account, except with the written consent of the other party or by Court order.
(4) Neither party shall directly or indirectly cause the other party or the minor child(ren) to be removed from coverage under an existing insurance policy, including medical, dental, life, automobile, and disability insurance. The parties shall maintain all insurance coverage in full force and effect.
The purpose of the rule is for parties to a divorce action not to hide or spend down marital assets beyond what would be considered reasonable. It is not intended to prevent the spouse who had been managing the couple's finances from continuing the status quo, but rather to curtail disingenuous activity or transactions.
How to Lower Your Mass. Alimony Obligation in Norfolk County
Every judge handles his or her cases differently, but when it comes to alimony, our attorneys go the extra step in explaining to the court how any presumptive alimony calculation can be lowered in any of these nine situations: advanced age, chronic illness, or unusual health circumstances of either party; tax considerations applicable to the parties; whether the payor spouse is providing health insurance and the cost of health insurance for the recipient spouse; whether the payor spouse has been ordered to secure life insurance for the benefit of the recipient spouse and the cost of such insurance; sources and amounts of unearned income, including capital gains, interest and dividends, annuity and investment income from assets that were not allocated in the parties divorce; significant premarital cohabitation that included economic partnership or marital separation of significant duration, each of which the court may consider in determining the length of the marriage; a party's inability to provide for his or her own support by reason of physical or mental abuse by the payor; or a party's inability to provide for his or her own support by reason of a party's deficiency of property, maintenance or employment opportunity.
Put Our Home-Court Advantage
to Work for You in Norfolk County
Massachusetts Family Law Group truly offers its clients the benefit of our home-court advantage. Our attorneys are before the different judges in Norfolk County two, three, sometimes even four days in any given week.
For a free, no-obligation consultation, call 800-763-1030 or contact us online. We meet with clients early in the morning, at night, or (if convenient) over the weekend. Availability is 7 days a week, and each of our attorneys carries a Blackberry which avails us to answer your questions by phone or e-mail anytime - not just during office hours.