Jennifer Marie Rivera-Ulwick

Nominee Jennifer Marie Rivera-Ulwick


CLIFF LONDON vs. LAURA LONDON Acceptance of separation agreement

LEE-ANN WILLWERTH vs. BRUCE STRAYTON Domestic Relations/Family Law

The council met with Attorney Rivera-Ulwick on March 7. Rivera-Ulwick is applying for a position on the Probate and Family Court bench.

Atty. Rivera-Ulwick is an assistant judicial case manager in the Middlesex Probate and Family Court.

The hearing started with the administration of a truth telling oath to all of those present who intended to speak.

Speaking as witnesses for the nominee were:

Honorable Paula Carey, Chief Justice of the Probate and Family Court

Honorable William McSweeny, Middlesex Probate and Family Court

Phyllis Federico, Esquire Schmidt & Federico

Emily DiRocco

Maxine Rocaberte, Operation Supervisor

Ted Welch, Probation Officer

Recently Atty. Rivera-Ulwick has been working on implementation of the uniform Probation Code, which was adopted by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Several of her witnesses spoke of the problem of substance abuse among parents as a reason why the family court will intervene in family matters.

Child abuse was another issue raised by several witnesses as a reason for the courts intervention.

Her witnesses confirmed her knowledge of the rules of evidence, an issue that has been raised with past candidates.

Atty. Rivera-Ulwick acknowledged that she did not have the extensive trial experience, an issue that has been raised with past candidates.

Atty. Rivera-Ulwick related that her recent experience as a case manager gave her experience drafting findings of fact, reviewing financial statements, reviewing proposed judgements, review paternity issues, review custody issues, screen emergency matters. As a case manager she handled 70+ cases a day, and 2-3 trials a week.

Atty. Rivera-Ulwick claimed that drug and alcohol abuse is the main reason that a parent might lose physical custody of their child.

It was pointed out that 90% of the cases result in one parent not having custody of their children.

Atty. Rivera-Ulwick stated that she believed that both parents should be equally involved in their children's lives, but that when drugs and alcohol are involved that is not always possible. However she appeared to contradict herself when she stated that she believed both parents needed to get along in order to retain shared custody.

Atty. Rivera-Ulwick acknowledged that 209a restraining orders can be problematic when they inappropriately give one parent a leg-up in the proceedings. She stated that she believed that 209a orders should be heard in family court, when there are associated family court matters.

Atty. Rivera-Ulwick acknowledged that moveaway orders are also problematic because they substantial change a child's relationship with their parents.

The issue of parental alienation was raised. Parental alienation is the term used when one parent tries to turn children against the other parent. The concern was when the courts actions reinforce this behavior.

There appeared to be confusion when the issue of shared legal custody came up. The issue was raised regarding one parenting signing up a child for weekly activities, when that parent's time was only every other week. It was related that some parents are vilified for signing up children for activities on the other parent's time.

Atty. Rivera-Ulwick stated that she would allow a parent to enroll children in programs if the programs were reasonable. She stated she would do this even if one parent has sole legal custody. The question was repeated to make sure she understood it.

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