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MAGAL Spring 2024 Conference: They’re Watching You… The Purpose and Practice of Supervised Parenting in the Family Court

  • 9 May 2024
  • 8:30 AM - 1:00 PM
  • Conference Center at Waltham Woods


  • Early Bird rate ends April 10th!
  • Early Bird rate ends April 10th!

    You will receive email instructions how to access the program remotely via Zoom.


They’re Watching you… The Purpose and Practice of Supervised Parenting in Family Court

 ThursdayMay 9, 2024

8:30am-1:00 pm

(Breakfast and snacks included)

The Conference Center at Waltham Woods, Waltham, MA

(The conference will be in person and virtual)

Supervised parenting is often recommended as a straightforward and logical intervention when a child requires protection from a compromised parent and/or when a parent wants to be protected from unwarranted allegations from the other parent. It is important to recognize, however, that supervised parenting can have a profound effect on a family. This conference will explore the pivotal role which supervisors play and the potential impacts (both positive and negative) of supervised parenting.  

The Massachusetts Probate and Family Court has recognized the need for those who conduct supervision to adhere to professional standards. This conference will present the new rules for fee generating supervision appointments. There will also be discussion of appropriate criteria for determining when supervision is required and when it is no longer necessary.  

Presenters will include experienced GALs, professionals who provide supervision services. a retired judge, and attorneys who litigate the cases in which supervised parenting is often utilized.  

Learning Objectives:

This conference will address the following question:

  • What triggers the need for a parent’s contact to be overseen by a professional supervisor? And for terminating supervision?
  • What are the legal and mental health implications for scrutinizing parent-child interactions?
  • How does professional supervision differ from more informal supervision, and when is each appropriate?
  • What are the parameters and protocols for effective supervised parenting time?
  • What are the new Court rules for supervised parenting in Massachusetts?
  • What steps can the courts take to ensure that supervision is conducted in a professional, standardized manner?
  • What role might a visitation supervisor play in a custody evaluation?
  • How can orders be crafted to ensure appropriate supervision and a timeline for such supervision?

Conference Schedule


President’s Remarks, Sheara Friend, Esq. MAGAL Board President

Introduction, Donald G. Tye, JD, M.S.W. Education Committee Chairperson

8:45-10:45  Supervised Parenting Time: Exploring the history, the practice, and current issues  in family law cases. 

Moderator Thomas D. Ritter, Esq; Guidelines Committee members: Diane Beswick, Esq. (Managing Attorney, Probate and Family Court); Lisa Danovitch (Senior Court Clinician, Probate and Family Court); Denise Fitzgerald, Esq.(Manager of Legal Research Services, Probate and Family Court;, and Marguerite Riley (Statewide Supervisor Probation, Probate and Family Court Probation);  Julia Brice, Fairplayedu; Howard Yaffe, LICSW, Supervised Visitation Network president, and Director at Meeting Place Supervised Visitation Center.

Special Guest: Hon. John D. Casey, Chief Justice Massachusetts Probate and Family Courts

10:45-11:15 Break (Refreshments served)

11:15-12:30  Court Involvement in Supervised Parenting Time Cases: Drafting Court Orders,  supervision and GAL investigations,  court testimony, and the termination of services.  

Moderator, Linda A. Ouellette, Esq and, Category F GAL; Hon Judge Susan Ricci (Ret.); Katie Rice, LMHC and Category E GAL; Nicole Robinson, LICSW Category E GAL, and former supervisor at Department of Children and Families


Howard Yaffe, LICSW has more than 30 years of clinical experience working with children and families experiencing complex trauma, families affected by intimate partner violence, and court-involved families.  He has worked in various settings including residential programs, accredited special needs schools, and outpatient clinics.  He is currently the Director of Domestic Violence Services and Meeting Place Supervised Visitation Services at Riverside Community Care. He has served as the President of the Supervised Visitation Network, and is a member of NASW, the Massachusetts Association of Guardians ad Litem, and the Association of Family and Conciliatory Courts. In addition to working with couples, families, and individuals in his private psychotherapy practice, he co-facilitates court-ordered High Conflict Co-Parenting Classes at William James College.

Diane J. Beswick Esq. is the managing attorney for the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court Administrative Office. Most recently, she was an assistant regional counsel for the Department of Children and Families in the Probate and Family Court and the Juvenile Court. Previously, she was an assistant district attorney in Plymouth County. Ms. Beswick is a graduate of Suffolk University Law School and Wheaton College.

Julia Brice is a child and parenting specialist who has been engaged in social service work with families since 1986. At Fairplayedu, she heads a team of highly trained professionals that specialize in supervised visitation, parenting time support services, and parent coaching. Julia co-founded Children’s Supervised Visitations, a nonprofit center located in Marlboro which provided a safe, supervised environment in which children exposed to abuse or neglect could have safe interactions with family members. Ms. Brice was a co-founder and board member of the Massachusetts Coalition of Supervised Visitation. She worked with former Chief Justice Dunphy to establish practice standards for visitation supervisors. She was instrumental in developing RFPs for such programs, then helping to create and implement a federally funded program under the Safe Havens Act. Ms. Brice has developed parenting courses for effective parenting and teaches parenting classes for families serviced through Framingham DCF

Lisa Danovitch, LICSW, is the Senior Court Clinician at the Family Service Clinic at the Middlesex Probate & Family Court. She received her MSW from Boston University. Ms. Danovitch has over 25 years of experience working with children and families. She has previously held various clinical leadership roles in a multi-service residential care agency specializing in intensive services for children, youth and families with complex emotional, behavioral and learning challenges. She also developed an acute residential treatment program for young children and has been the Clinical Director at a therapeutic day school and has provided psychiatric services in hospital emergency rooms. Ms. Danovitch currently oversees the Family Service Clinic and provides forensic evaluations for the court regarding custody, mental health and family related issues.

Denise M. Fitzgerald, Esq. is the Manager of Legal Research Services for the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court.  Ms. Fitzgerald has spent her legal career at the Probate and Family Court.  She has worked on various committees, working groups and task forces.  She was the project manager for the 2016-2017 and 2020-2021 Child Support Guidelines Task Force.  Prior to her current position, Ms. Fitzgerald served as a judicial law clerk and the Chief Law Clerk to the justices of the Probate and Family Court, as well as an administrative attorney for the Probate and Family Court.  She is a graduate of Tufts University and an honors graduate of New England School of Law. 

Linda A. Ouellette, Esq. is a partner with Kates & Barlow, PC. Attorney Ouellette has over thirty-five years of experience focused exclusively in family law and probate litigation. She is well-known for her formidable trial skills, particularly in cases involving complex financial matters and custody issues. She wrote the brief for the prevailing party in the case of J.S. v. C.C., 454 Mass. 652 (2009), the seminal Massachusetts case concerning the treatment of subchapter S distributions in child support cases. She also successfully represented the appellant in the case of Akinci-Unal v. Unal, 64 Mass. App. 212 (2005), establishing precedent for the exercise of long-arm jurisdiction over out-of-state litigants in divorce matters. 

Hon. Judge Susan Ricci (Ret.) graduated Suffolk Law in 1984. She practiced family law from 1984 to 1993 and was then appointed to the Probate and Family Court bench.  She sat as Associate Justice from 1993 to 2014.  She currently does private mediation, conciliation, arbitration and case consultation, and she volunteers on The Child Focused Facilitation Team mediation team with child psychologists and trial attorneys for high conflict families referred by Court. She is a Board member on the Mass Judges Conference; a Board Member on the Mental Health Legal Advisors Committee; a Board Member on the BBA Family Law Steering Committee; and Chair of the Judicial Guardianship and Mental Health Committee. 

Katie Rice, LMHC, has been a Licensed Mental Health Counselor since 1992, having earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Boston College. She began her career working with abused and neglected infants and toddlers and their families with the Parents and Children’s Services in Boston before becoming a Probation/Family Service Officer with the Middlesex Probate and Family Court. For six years she ran the Guardian ad litem Practicum Program for the Middlesex Probate and Family Court where she trained graduate level social work students from Boston College to provide GAL services to indigent clients. She has been conducting GAL investigations and evaluations since 1994 and has been a member of MAGAL since 1993. She has served on the MAGAL board from 1994 to 1997 and from 2007 until the present. She has worked as a Director at large as well as MAGAL’s Judicial Liaison, President, and Membership Chair. She is currently in private practice in Woburn providing GAL services in Middlesex, Norfolk, Suffolk, and Essex counties. 

Marguerite Riley is the Statewide Supervisor for the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court Probation Service and is responsible for providing oversight to the twelve Probate Probation Departments across the Commonwealth.  Prior to her appointment as the Statewide in June 2018, Ms. Riley was employed at the Suffolk Probate and Family Court Probation Department, where she served as a Probation Officer, Assistant Chief Probation Officer, and Chief Probation Officer.  Ms. Riley holds a B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Child and Family Studies from Syracuse University, and a Certificate of Judicial Administration from Michigan State University.

Thomas D. Ritter, J.D., Ph.D., has been with the Boston law firm of Atwood & Cherny since 2003, where he concentrates in the area of Family Law. His law practice includes working as a Guardian ad Litem in the Probate and Family Courts of the Commonwealth. Attorney Ritter is also a Clinical Assistant Professor of Public Health and Community Medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine where is a consultant to the Comprehensive Family Evaluation Center. Prior to attending law school, Attorney Ritter was an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, Massachusetts.  He received his Ph.D. from Purdue University and his law degree from Boston University School of Law. He is also a board member of the Massachusetts Association of Guardians ad Litem and is currently the President-Elect.

Nicole Robinson, LICSW is the owner of Robinson and Associates Therapeutic Services, a forensic mental health practice in Stoneham, Massachusetts. In addition to conducting Guardian ad Litem evaluations and Parent Coordination services, Robinson and Associates also offers individual and group therapy, coaching and parenting time supervision by professional and licensed clinicians in various geographical areas across Massachusetts. As a former social worker, response worker (investigator), supervisor and manager with the Department of Children and Families, Ms. Robinson has built her practice with the safety and wellbeing of children at the forefront. Ms. Robinson is a consultant with The Comprehensive Family Evaluation Center at Tufts University School of Medicine. She works as part time faculty at the Boston College School of Social Work and holds an appointment as a Clinical Associate Professor at Tufts School of Medicine.   


Those who prefer to mail a check may do so by sending one to MAGAL Inc. PO Box 304 Franklin, MA 02038.

Early Bird Registration (until April 10th, 2024): $100 for MAGAL members, $125 for non-members or $175, with cost of membership for one year included.

Regular Registration (after April 10th, 2024) $115 for members, and $140 for non-members.

CE Credits

  • 4.0 Credits have been awarded for licensed psychologists,
  • 4.0 Credits have been awarded for licensed independent clinical social workers,
  • 4.0 CE Credits have been awarded for MA for Category V - Parenting Coordinators.
  • 4.0 CE credits have been awarded for licensed mental health counselors, and licensed marriage and family therapists.
  • 4.0 Credits have been awarded for CPCS/CAFL.

Copyright © 2024 Massachusetts Association of Guardians ad Litem, Inc.

Massachusetts Association of Guardians ad Litem, Inc.
P.O. Box 304, Franklin, MA 02038

(781) 329-9729

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