Bar News - August 14, 2009
Hon. Stephanie Nute Looks Back
By: Elizabeth Faiella
When the Hon. Stephanie T. Nute first became a marital master, family law was a very different field. The law was simpler. Case files were slimmer. Fewer people chose to represent themselves. One thing, however, has not changed: domestic relations is still, Master Nute says, "one of the most challenging areas of the law."
|Hon. Stephanie T. Nute
Nute retired in June after 28 years with the Strafford County Superior Court. On June 24, the Strafford County Bar Association celebrated her with "A Toast to Master Nute" at the Orchard Street Chop Shop in Dover.
After teaching English for five years, Nute realized that what she really wanted to do was to become a family law attorney. Graduating from Franklin Pierce in 1976, she joined her father’s practice.
Her father, Eugene Nute, was a municipal law attorney in Farmington. It was he who inspired her to pursue a career in law. He passed away in March. "He was a delightful, charming, honest, kind person," says Nute. She remembers her father coming to and from work to feed the animals and accepting turkeys and oysters instead of payment from low-income clients. (Eugene Nute’s tongue-in-cheek letter accounting for a late dues payment – he used the money to buy a sheep – was re-published in the April 2009 Bar News.)
Nute became a marital master at Strafford County Superior Court in 1981. There, her role model was Linda Dalianis, a newly-minted marital master. (Justice Dalianis then went on to serve as a superior court judge, briefly as Chief Justice of the Superior Court, and now sits on the NH Supreme Court.) Since then, Nute has served the profession in many ways – as a member of the Superior Court Executive Committee, as speaker at NHBA Gender Equality Committee events, and as a member of the Committee on Cooperation with the Courts.
Although she loves her work, Nute adds that she deals with intensely emotional issues. "People are so invested in hopes and dreams for themselves and their families," she says, "and in divorce, everything is on the line." Nute is proud of her colleagues and of their contribution to shaping family law in NH. "They are caring, compassionate, smart, and so supportive," she says.
In retirement, Master Nute and her husband will move to Oregon. She advises those in domestic relations, "Know the law. Be prepared at all times. Keep your integrity, and value your honesty above all."
Elizabeth Faiella, a sophomore at Dartmouth College, is working as a part-time summer intern for the NH Bar News.