MIDDLESEX COUNTY PROBATE COURT CONCILIATION PROGRAM
twenty six thousand filings in the Middlesex Probate and
Family Court in 2003. The MCBA’s Middlesex Probate and
Family Court Conciliation Program was developed to assist
the court in handling its burgeoning caseload. The
Conciliation Program utilizes approximately 50 MCBA member
attorneys who practice in Middlesex County. The list of
conciliators includes some of the most respected domestic
relations attorneys in Massachusetts, who donate their time,
pro bono, to this program. MCBA conciliators have applied
their experience and creativity to bring about efficient and
equitable solutions, in hundreds of cases to date. Since
receiving approval from Chief Justice Sean Dunphy's office
two years ago, the program has helped reduce the backlog of
pending cases in the Middlesex Probate & Family Court.
The Conciliation Program benefits all
litigants involved with the Middlesex Probate and Family
Court. There are no income eligibility guidelines associated
with this program and pro se litigants as well as litigants
with counsel are eligible to participate at no cost. All
conciliators have participated in an eight hour training
seminar overseen by the Massachusetts Office of Dispute
Resolution. Conciliators have a minimum of three years
experience in the subject area of their conciliation and the
current average years of experience is over 15 years. In
assigning conciliators, the MCBA attempts to utilize
conciliators that are in the geographic area of the
The Conciliation Program is offered to
litigants at the time of the Pre Trial Conference. The
Presiding Judge informs the parties of the availability of
the program and if the parties elect to utilize it, the
Judge issues an order sending the case to the Conciliation
Program. The Program is administered by MCBA Executive
Director Diane Verner. Upon receipt of a conciliation
referral from the Court, she assigns a seasoned attorney in
the specific area of law at issue, e.g. divorce, probate,
custody, estates, etc. The conciliator meets with the
parties and/or counsel in an attempt to resolve the
outstanding issues and potentially settle the case.
Typically conciliations run for two or more hours.
Following a conciliation, the conciliator
drafts a conciliation report which is filed with the Court
and the MCBA. The parties also complete and return an
evaluation questionnaire to provide feedback on the program.
Approximately 60 – 70 % of conciliations result in a
settlement which ends the litigation process. Cases that do
not settle are referred back to the Probate Court for trial.
For more information about the program, please contact MCBA
Executive Director Diane Verner at (781) 939-2797.