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August 01, 2018

Our Year of Kindness, Creativity, Hard Work, and Progress

By: Roberta S. Batley

Last fall when I wrote my first column, I said I did so with great honor and humility. I approach this, my last column, with the same feelings. As the old saying goes, “Time flies when you are having fun.” I have greatly enjoyed serving as your chair of the Family Law Section this year and, although I do look forward to fewer conference calls and to attending more CLE programs at our Section conferences, I will miss leading this Section. You are a creative, hardworking, courageous group of lawyers who serve families in transition and in crisis. We have experienced much as a group and personally over the last year. I asked you all last fall to strive to be kind to each other and to attempt to look at issues from all sides without judgment or condemnation. You all have answered the call in many ways in your own communities and in the Section.

The officers have worked diligently this year to shepherd this Section through changes in the American Bar Association and to increase the value this Section provides to our members. Our Council has acted carefully with regard to questions of policy. Our Military Committee drafted and worked with our Section delegates to secure passage of a resolution to prevent military benefits from being treated differently than other retirement benefits under state law. This puts the Section in a position to lobby for this change to maintain equal treatment for all families facing divorce. The ART Committee produced and managed to a successful final draft the revised Model Act for Governing Assisted Reproductive Technology. Its members worked extensively with other sections to provide an act that will give guidance to the United States and other countries in this area of great importance. The Tax Committee answered the call from family law practitioners across the country to respond to the recently passed Tax Reform Act and the impact it has on the alimony deduction.

Internally, our Strategic Planning Committee has discussed and worked and reworked some of our committee structure to make us more malleable and responsive to family law issues. Our CLE Committee produced an amazing cadre of programs in Beaver Creek and Nashville to educate and enlighten our members. With special committees, we created stand-alone programs on well-being for our Beaver Creek meeting and on international law and assisted reproductive technology for our Nashville meeting. We enjoyed the beauty of Colorado together and the excitement of Music City, with a record number of conference attendees at our Spring conference. Our hardworking and creative Publications Board produced a shocking eleven books this season. The Family Advocate has given us another year of resources for practitioners and our clients in this well-written and managed publication. Our annual summer Client Manual issue is always one of my favorites, as we can give our clients the benefit of helpful tips from lawyers all across the country. The Family Law Quarterly has moved into the digital age and will be producing its last paper edition. These two crown jewels of the Section are produced under the diligent eyes and hands of our dedicated managing editor, Lisa Comforty. Our Listserv has remained active and generous with information and assistance. Whether you have been an active Section member for thirty years or only know us through the Listserv, there is something for every family law and assisted reproductive technology practitioner in this Section.

I also want to take a moment to thank from the bottom of my heart Section staffers Cindy Swan, Samantha Schooley, Danielle Pruger, and Marsha Boone. Until I was chair, I had no idea of the extent of their work and dedication to this Section. It is not unusual for one of them to respond to an email over the weekend or late into the evening. They chase down information, field phone calls, develop strategies, plan meetings and events, develop programming, produce a newsletter, update our website—you name it and they do it! They truly are the cherry on the sundae of our Section. We could not be more fortunate to have them. I encourage you all to express your thanks to them in person or email.

We will close out this year with our Annual Meeting in Chicago August 2–4. Please join us for baseball, CLE, and networking, and meet some of your fellow Section members. The work of this Section is done by a superb and diverse group of volunteers who truly humble me. Thank you for giving me the privilege of a lifetime to serve as your chair. fa

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Roberta S. Batley

Roberta S. “Bobbie” Batley ([email protected]) of Little, Gilman-Tepper & Batley P.A. in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is the 2017–18 chair of the ABA Section of Family Law. She is a Board- recognized specialist in divorce and family law in New Mexico, a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, and a trained collaborative family law attorney. She also serves on the Advisory Board of the Institute of Advancement for the American Legal System.