Massachusetts Divorce Cases / Family court procedure
On this page we are compiling links to the full text of important Massachusetts Appellate Cases on Family Law and Divorce decided by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and the Massachusetts Appeals Court.
These cases are for educational purpose only and should not be used for any official or legal purpose. Please consult official reports. Below you will be able to search for Massachusetts Appeals Court Slip Opinions and Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Slip Opinions relating to Family court procedure.
Family court procedure Cases in Massachusetts
Aronson v. Aronson, 25 Mass. App. Ct. 164 (1987): The probate court made findings that the wife, who had not worked for nearly 30 years as anything but a homemaker and who had substantial psychiatric issues, should have been entitled to alimony in the amount of $800 per week. However, the probate court disregarded these findings and ordered the husband to pay $650 per week without any explanation for this deviation. The wife challenged this payment order as it would not allow her to keep the "station in life" she had during the marriage. By contrast, the husband challenged the probate court's order which assessed a transfer of his property to a trust for the children as fraudulently conveyed. The appeals court vacated the order with respect to the wife but upheld the order with respect to the husband, also allowing for the probate court to consider any additional evidence of a material change in circumstances for either party.
Blitzer v. Blitzer, 361 Mass. 780 (1972): A divorce by decree nisi ordered that the husband convey his interest in the marital property to his wife. The court did not hold personal service over the husband as he was a citizen of Pennsylvania who made an appearance through his attorney, noting that the appearance was a "special appearance to object to [the] order of sale of real estate in lieu of alimony." However, the probate court did have quasi in rem jurisdiction over the husband's interest in his Massachusetts real estate. The wife argued that the amount she had received through alimony and child support was not enough to support her, and the trial court ruled that only an order conveying the property to her would provide such support. This was permissible due to the husband liquidating his equity in the home and issuing out his court ordered payments from these monies.
Bottiggi v. Wall, 54 Mass. App. Ct. 430 (2002): Wife filed a complaint seeking equitable division of her husband's U.S. Navy retirement pension. The trial judge incorrectly dismissed her claim on a res judicata basis and on the basis of the Federal Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act. Res judicata was not a permissible ground for denying her claim because her claim had not been actually litigated and decided. For the FUSFSPA basis, the Appeals Court noted that the FUSFSPA allows the retirement pension to be considered when dividing other marital assets, though the pension itself may not be touched. The trial court did not address the fact that the retirement pension should have been considered "on the husband's side of the ledger" when allocating financial support and property. Thus, the Appeals Court reversed the trial court and ordered the lower court to make a new determination, taking the pension into account.
Braun v. Braun, 68 Mass. App. Ct. 846 (2007): Husband sought appeal from divorce judgment with respect to alimony and divorce. The husband earned significant amount of money through his job prior to the divorce while the wife was a homemaker responsible for their three children and his children from his prior marriage when they were present. The wife filed a complaint for modification based on a material change of circumstances, namely that she wanted to remove the children to Vermont and change the judgment to include a sum of money from his stock options and a percentage of future stock options, not to mention an increase in weekly child support. The wife also filed for a modification of alimony and child support, which became moot upon the Appeals Court's granting of her modification judgment.
Brower v. Brower, 61 Mass. App. Ct. 216 (2004): Husband challenged trial court's decision to include his teacher's retirement pension as a marital asset. He based this on the grounds that he had acquired this asset before entering the marriage, thus excluding this asset from the marital property in accordance with Mass. Gen. Laws. ch. 208, § 34. The Appeals Court determined that when judges decide how to allocate assets, there is no set formula that he judge must use with respect to complex assets like pensions, stock options, bonuses, etc. Thus, it is a distinctly factual decision that the judge makes and should not be overturned unless it is plainly wrong and excessive. The trial court's decision to include the husband's teacher's retirement pension was permissible.
Caplan v. Donovan, 450 Mass. 463 (2008): Husband and wife were living in Florida with a child, and occasionally wife vacationed in Massachusetts. At one point, mother fled to Massachusetts with the child, stating that the father was physically abusive to her. The wife then filed a § 209(A) restraining order, stating that the husband needed to stay away from the wife and her residence and granting custody of the child to the wife while ordering the husband to stay away from the child as well. The § 209(A) order also demanded that the husband compensate the wife and surrender the firearms he owned. The Supreme Judicial Court held that the part of the § 209(A) order relating to compensation and firearms was not permissible because the court did not have personal jurisdiction over the Husband living in Florida to make such rulings.
Cartledge v. Evans, 67 Mass. App. Ct. 577 (2006): The court affirmed an order by a single justice staying a Probate Court order pending appeal. The Probate Court had denied mother from relocating with the parties’ minor child to Connecticut and ordered the mother to relocate to within twenty-five miles of Boston. The court reversed and remanded to allow mother to move to Connecticut with the minor child. The court found that mother had good reason to move, and the Probate Court judge had given dispositive weight to the move’s disruption with father’s visitation.
Chavoor v. Lewis, 383 Mass. 801 (1981): Defendant appealed the District Court’s decision to vacate the judgment and the Appellate Division’s decision to dismiss. The Supreme Judicial Court concluded that when an appealing party claims the District Court erred in granting a motion to vacate a judgment because the one-year time requirement expired and the Appellate Court provides no relief, the party can proceed with an appeal to determine whether granting the motion to vacate was within the judge’s authority. The court concluded that granting the motion to vacate was within the judge’s authority. Plaintiff’s lack of notice of the trial and entry of judgment fell within Mass. R. Civ. P. 60(b)(6), which authorized the court to relieve a party from a judgment for any “reason justifying relief from the operation of the judgment.” The court dismissed the appeal.
Cherin vs. Cherin, 72 Mass. App. Ct. 288 (2008): The court found that the Probate and Family Court had personal jurisdiction over the husband, who was residing in Virginia, and could order alimony and the division of marital assets. The Massachusetts long-arm statute was satisfied because the husband’s actions gave rise to the claim for divorce.
Clark v. Clark, 325 Mass. 760 (1950): 321 Mass. 760 (1950)
The issue at trial centered around the libellant's motion to amend the libel claim by including the name of a corespondant. An appeal from a husband was dismissed because the appeal pertained to an interlocutory decree before a final decree on the case was issued.
Cohen v. Cohen, 319 Mass. 31 (1946): Wife obtained a "decree of separate support" before she and the husband divorced. A few years after this decree issued, the husband left Massachusetts to go to Nevada in violation of the probate court's writ of ne exeat which prohibited him from leaving Massachusetts. However, neither the husband nor wife were domiciled in Nevada. The Supreme Judicial Court held that because the husband had been given bail and had paid such bail, the writ of ne exeat should be removed and bail should be returned to the husband if he is not in arrears. The decree for separate support was held valid as the Nevada courts had no jurisdiction in this case.
D´Avella v. McGonigle, 429 Mass. 820 (1999): Two years after a husband had been ordered through two contempt judgments to pay weekly child support, the husband was incarcerated in Federal prison for drug charges. The husband sought a reduction in his child support payments, and the Supreme Judicial Court held that impossibility of payment does not affect the "no retroactive modification of child support orders" that is included in M.G.L. c. 119A, § 13(a). The father knew that he was going to be incarcerated and thus should have modified the order before the impossibility of him satisfying the order came to pass.
Diggs vs. Diggs, 291 Mass. 399 (1935): Wife's estate sought review of trial court's dismissal of her divorce nisi decree in that the trial court vacated the decree because of the husband's prayer, and the wife's estate asserted property rights to the estate. The Supreme Judicial Court ruled that a divorce nisi decree may not be prematurely accelerated into becoming absolute by the wife's estate, despite the benefit to the estate.
Draper v. Burke, 450 Mass. 676 (2008): Wife sought to alter another state's child support order in a Massachusetts probate court. The husband and wife had been married in Massachusetts and lived there for ten years, but subsequently they moved to Oregon and ultimately divorced there. The Oregon judgment granted child support and as the children started to attend college, the wife sought to revise the child support order to include college tuition costs through a probate court in Massachusetts. The husband's motion to dismiss was initially denied despite the wife's agreement that the probate court lacked subject matter jurisdiction under G.L. c. 209D, § 6-611(a)(1). The probate court asserted jurisdiction under UIFSA (Uniform Interstate Family Support Act) and the Supreme Judicial Court affirmed this ruling, noting that the federal act specifically obligates all states to enforce other states' child support orders. Modification of those orders was permitted because Oregon no longer had exclusive jurisdiction over the child support order as a result of the mother residing in Massachusetts.
Eldridge v. Eldridge, 278 Mass. 309 (1932):
Wife alleged adultery and cruel and abusive treatment as the basis for a divorce. Upon being ordered to pay child support, the husband eventually filed an answer generally denying all allegations of adultery and cruel and abusive treatment and condonation (forgiveness of an act without the punishment of the act) with respect to any adultery claims. Later, the husband also sought condonation of any cruel and abusive treatment claims. During this time, the husband had stopped paying his child support due to inadvertence, the wife filed a contempt order against the husband. The probate court denied the contempt order and the Supreme Judicial Court did not find any error with the probate court's decision to do so. The Supreme Judicial Court held that the dismissal of her libel claims vacated the temporary order.
E.N. v. E.S., 67 Mass. App. Ct. 182 (2006): Mother had received custody of couples' two children in Massachusetts after removing one of the children from Puerto Rico to Massachusetts. The Appeals Court first reviewed whether the Massachusetts probate court had the authority to exercise jurisdiction under the MCCJA due to the mother's filing the divorce in the home state of Massachusetts. Then, the Appeals Court reviewed pursuant to the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (PKPA), 28 U.S.C. § 1738A and the Massachusetts Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (MCCJA), M.G.L. c. 209B, § 1 et. seq., whether the probate court properly exercised its jurisdiction to award custody. Puerto Rico was not the child's home state because the child had not lived there for 6 months before the filing of the father's habeas corpus action and no continuing custody order existed at the time the mother took the child. The Appeals Court also affirmed the probate court's decision to not modify the child support order to allow the father to remove the children back to Puerto Rico.
Estin v. Estin, 334 U.S. 541 (1948): A New York probate court issued a decree awarding the wife $180 per month in maintenance (alimony) but subsequently a Nevada divorce decree granted the husband an absolute divorce, thereby getting rid of his support obligations. While taking into account Full Faith and Credit concerns, the United States Supreme Court split the divorce order by granting the "absolute divorce" of the Nevada decree (since the couple had not cohabitated for three years, had clearly lived separate lives, and she received constructive notice about the Nevada proceedings) while maintaining the initial support order from New York. The reason for this is that support orders for maintenance (alimony) and child support can survive the conclusion of a divorce.
Eyster v. Pechenik, 71 Mass. App. Ct. 773 (2008): A pro se husband drafted his own prenuptial agreement with his soon-to-be wife, who signed the agreement before their wedding. Neither party consulted an attorney before signing the document that the husband had prepared and it dealt primarily with divvying up financial assets. The agreement contained no provisions concerning child support or alimony upon dissolution of the marriage. Moreover, the agreement did not contain a proper waiver of marital rights or any plain language indicating that they understood what they were waiving.
Fleming v. Fleming, 62 Mass. App. Ct. 103 (2004): A husband challenged the child support calculation and the division of property. In the probate court divorce judgment, the wife retained ownership of a general store they owned and operated, as well as their house. The wife then received a $34,000 payment as well as $50 a week in child support until their two children turned 18. The husband claimed that the marital estate was not calculated properly and that the wife had actually removed just over $31,000 of refinancing proceeds to use for her own benefit. As the husband did not present substantial evidence that her use of this money was not made jointly or for the benefit of the children, the Appeals Court found no clear and convincing error by the probate court on this matter. The Appeals Court did determine, though, that the probate court did not follow any child support guidelines when it made its basic child support order of $50 per week, particularly with respect to the fact that the order did not take into account the husband's health care cost contributions. The Appeals Court remanded this part of the judgment back to the probate court for an equitable determination.
Fuentes v. Shevin, 407 U.S. 67 (1972): Florida and Pennsylvania both maintained prejudgment replevin laws (remedy for people to recover goods before a judgment) which were challenged under Fourteenth Amendment principles. The United States Supreme Court found that such laws were in fact unconstitutional because they insisted that due process necessitates a hearing must be provided before the "deprivation at issue" takes effect. However, this holding does not apply to those replevin situations where the creditors' security interests must be protected from the current possessor of the items. Notice and hearing are necessities before depriving property in other circumstances.
G.E.B. v. S.R.W., 422 Mass. 158 (1996): A child brought a paternity suit against her father, who had entered into a stipulation of nonpaternity with the child's mother. The earlier agreement between the wife and the husband stipulated that the husband was not the father and that he would not submit to any paternity tests. However, the child was not estopped from bringing this action under res judicata principles because she was not a party to the initial agreement and it had no binding effect on her rights. The mother's testimony concerning the father's paternity was considered admissible for purpose's of the child's filing, but the child had no statutory basis for trying to recover attorney's fees from the father.
Goldman v. Roderiques, 370 Mass. 435 (1976): Wife appealed judgment from probate court which dismissed a contempt charge of the husband for claiming that the counsel's fees he had been ordered to pay were discharged through bankruptcy. The Supreme Judicial Court held that an order relating to counsel's fees was based not on contract but on status between the parties. Although counsel's fees is separate from alimony and child support, they are all in similar in examining the need and economic status of both parties when making such determinations and orders. The Supreme Judicial Court ultimately vacated the order dismissing the petition for a contempt charge.
Goldstein v. Barron, 382 Mass. 181 (1980): The Appeals Court concluded there was no error in denying defendants’ motion to dismiss. Plaintiff’s bond of $2,000 was posted in compliance with G. L. c. 231, Section 60B because it was within the proscribed time requirement and in the sufficient amount. Plaintiff’s posting was timely because three days were added to the requirement that the bond be posted within 30 days of the finding because notice was served by mail.
Hayden v. Hayden, 326 Mass. 587 (1950): A husband (libellant) appealed the libel from a divorce judgment that he had "condoned" his wife's (libelee's) adultery by allowing her to stay in the house upon his finding out that she had an affair. The probate court judge stated that it was only morally and legally fair that the wife stay in the house and that the husband should have left because he had the financial means to do so and the absence of the mother would have left the children in the day to day care of the maid. The Supreme Judicial Court found that "condonation" is an affirmative defense that must be pleaded by the defendant/libelee and that presentation of evidence is required for such a defense. The fact that the husband continued to pay her bills and the children's bills when she was in a Provincetown vacation cottage (the site of the adultery) does not arise to the level of condonation or connivance, for that matter. In short, his suspicions about her actions did not amount to facilitating those actions. The libel was granted and the divorce decree on the ground of adultery was entered.
Houston v. Houston, 64 Mass. App. Ct. 529 (2005): The husband appealed a probate court order denying his motion to amend the findings of fact and conclusions of law in that the probate judge erred in mitigating certain admissions the wife made after the trial had concluded. The husband issues requests for admission to the wife, which the wife did not respond to at all or in a timely manner. The probate judge ruled that the husband's admissions were then to be taken as fact due to the wife's actions, and no alimony was ordered for either party while the mother received primary legal and physical custody. After the judgment was issued, the judge further stated that the wife was entitled to pursue alimony later in life pending any developments regarding the husband's finances. The Appeals Court agreed with the husband that the probate court's sua sponte removal of the wife's admissions was impermissible and that the husband was prejudiced by the judge's withdrawal of certain admissions regarding child custody.
Katz v. Katz, 330 Mass. 635 (1954): The wife petitioned the probate court that the husband was not providing enough support and that the husband had deserted her. The husband, who had moved to Indiana, challenged the jurisdiction of the probate court who had issued a writ to attach his estate and his goods to the value of $5,000 to the possession of a Massachusetts trust company. The husband made a special appearance through his attorney and he denied all of the petition's allegations except that he had been married to the wife in Massachusetts. The Supreme Judicial Court held that the probate court did not have in personam jurisdiction over the husband, but the probate court did have the right to enter a decree for the payment of support if a non-resident's property was attached in the Commonwealth.
Kennedy v. Kennedy, 20 Mass. App. Ct. 559 (1985): A monthly support fee of $250 for the wife and $600 for the children was entered through default in 1972. The husband contended that there was a simultaneous support decree from Arizona that ordered him to pay in lesser amounts. The Massachusetts Appeals Court upheld the jurisdiction of the Massachusetts decree, but in 1980 the wife filed a contempt order for his failure to pay under the 1972 order. The contempt order issued and required reduction in the husband's arrearage due to the excessiveness of his back payments, and he was also ordered to pay an immediate lump sum payment from his arrearage. Moreover, the contempt order stated that the husband did not have to pay the wife's attorneys fees. The Appeals Court held that the husband needed to demonstrate a material change in circumstances in order to justify a reduction of his payments, although the probate court's disregarding of the interest accrual was permissible. The Appeals Court then permitted the attachment of the husband's military pension and further ordered a reconsideration of the wife's attorney's fees that should have been paid.
Klavan v. Klavan, 405 Mass. 1105 (1989): A couple lived in Vermont for most of their marriage, until the husband moved to Alaska and the wife moved to Massachusetts. The husband and wife made several unsuccessful attempts at reconciliation, and in 1986, the wife "hysterically insisted" that the husband come visit her in Massachusetts. The day before the husband arrived in Massachusetts, the wife filed for a divorce. The day the husband arrived in Massachusetts, he was served with a summons and the compliant for divorce. The husband filed a special appearance to file a motion to dismiss on the grounds of a lack of personal jurisdiction. The Supreme Judicial Court ruled that even if the husband's claim of fraudulent enticement were recognized, the wife did not make any false representations, nor did she have a duty to speak about the pending service she was going to serve on him.
Larson v. Larson, 3 Mass. App. Ct. 418 (1991): A husband stopped payment of his child support when his non-disabled son turned 21 years old. The wife filed a contempt order without the presence or answer of the husband or the husband's counsel, and the order was granted. Ten days later, the husband's new attorney filed a motion for a new trial and relief from that contempt judgment. The Appeals Court held that neither claim nor issue preclusion applied to the present circumstances nor was judicial estoppels relevant. The husband's jurisdictional argument failed.
Levenson v. Feuer, 60 Mass. App. Ct. 428 (2004): When husband refused to sign documents arranging for lump sum alimony payments to his wife from a trust, the probate court assigned a special master to sign these documents on behalf of the husband. The husband later refused to pay the loan for the reason that he was able to arrange a more favorable financial situation/payment plan. The trust tried to take the husband's real property and the husband then sough a declaration annulling this transaction as well as restitution for any contract or tort based damages. The Appeals court reversed the probate court's dismissal of the wrongful foreclosure claims and also reversed the award of attorney fees that were a part of the declaratory judgment action.
L.F. v. L.J., 71 Mass. App. Ct. 813 (2008): The plaintiff-man had previously represented the defendant-woman in a case, whereupon they became romantically involved and had a child. Each later claimed the other was an unfit parent. Eventually, a § 209A temporary restraining order was issued against the defendant woman that prevented her from threatening or attempting to harm the plaintiff-man through any kind of harassment, threat of duress, and placing in fear of imminent serious physical harm. Additionally, the temporary restraining order prevented the defendant-woman from contacting the plaintiff-man in any way, either directly or through another person. The plaintiff-woman did ultimately contact the husband to say that she had documents which she was going to submit to the Internal Revenue Service unless certain demands of hers were made. The probate court found that this violated the temporary restraining order and issued its own contempt order, as well as the posting of a $50,000 bond. The Appeals Court determined that the probate court certainly had subject matter jurisdiction over the matter and that the defendant-woman's contacting of the plaintiff-father constituted a violation of the § 209A order, but that the specific $50,000 bond that she was ordered to post was not made with any specific findings regarding the reasoning for that amount. Thus, that issue was vacated for more specific bond findings if appropriate.
Linehan v. Linehan, 223 Mass. 297 (1916): The appellants had failed to enter their appeal within 30 days after the entry of the probate court's decree, as required by R.L. c. 162, §§ 9, 10. The appellants did not submit any accident, surprise, or mistake which would have made a reasonably diligent party unable to file. In fact, even after the clerk of the court notified the party about the failure to file, the appellant made no effort to cure the defect. The Supreme Judicial Court held that the petition for appeal was properly dismissed, thereby affirming the lower courts decision with costs.
Lombardi v. Lombardi, 68 Mass. App. Ct. 407 (2007): The husband and wife had three children during the course of their marriage and subsequently filed for divorce. The husband was ordered to pay child support each week and alimony each week, as well reasonable medical and dental expenses. The husband eventually stopped paying his child support and the probate court found that the husband was in arrears, issuing a new order which the husband ignored as well. The husband later filed a complaint alleging that the wife had refused to comply with the earliest version of the Massachusetts divorce order which granted him certain visitation rights. Although their child had reached the age of majority, the Appeals Court held that the child support order was still valid for the purpose of collecting arrears (despite the order's expiration). The husband's alimony obligation was ongoing and thus the exercise of personal jurisdiction through M.G.L. ch. 119A, § 13(A) was permissible. Moreover, the husband's laches defense was denied because of his lack of "clean hands" in the matter.
Madden v. Madden, 359 Mass. 356 (1971): Wife was awarded monthly child support and monthly alimony by means of a separation agreement wife and husband entered into through trustees. The separation agreement stipulated that if the husband did not make these monthly payments on time, the wife could obtain these payments through the husband's trust of which she was a lifetime beneficiary. The husband later obtained a divorce decree in Georgia where he erroneously and intentionally omitted the names of his minor children from the divorce. The probate court held the Georgia decree invalid and not entitled to Full Faith and Credit protection, and that the trust must continue to be responsible for the payments pursuant to their agreement.
Maillet v. Maillet, 64 Mass. App. Ct. 683 (2005):
MacDonald v. MacDonald, 401 Mass. 513 (1988):
Miller v. Miller, 448 Mass. 320 (2007):
Murphy v. Murphy, 380 Mass. 454 (1980):
Naranjo v. Departement of Revenue, 63 Mass. App. Ct. 260 (2005):
Nicholai v. Nicolai, 283 Mass. 241 (1933): The wife sought a divorce on the basis of cruel and abusive treatment. However, the wife objected to the decree nisi becoming absolute and wanted the divorce action dismissed. The Probate Court overruled her objections and refused to dismiss the divorce. The Supreme Judicial Court reversed the Probate Court's ruling, reasoning that a marriage is dissolved when the decree becomes absolute, and the state desires marriages to continue.
Paixao v. Paixao, 429 Mass. 307 (1999):
Reddington v. Reddington, 317 Mass. 760 (1945): The wife appealed the trial court's denial of her complaint for divorce. The wife sought divorce based on alleged cruel and abusive treatment by her husband. The trial judge made no finding regarding the cruel and abusive treatment, but did find that as a matter of public policy, the wife was not an innocent party entitled to a divorce. Although there was no finding of adultery, the judge noted that the wife had not been faithful to her marriage contract because she fell in love with another man. The court inferred that the husband was guilty of cruel and abusive treatment and determined the wife was entitled to a divorce. The court reasoned that the judge had to abide by the statute and could not exercise discretion based on their own ideas of public policy and divorce.
Richman v. Richman, 28 Mass. App. Ct. 655 (1990):
Riley vs. Riley, 434 Mass. 1021 (2001):
Ruma v. Buchsbaum, 362 Mass. 868 (1972): An attorney sought to recover from both the husband and wife for the balance due on legal services rendered to the wife. The husband and wife then reconciled; the wife discharged the attorney and refused to pay her balance. The Municipal Court of the City of Boston ruled in favor of the attorney regarding the action against the wife only. The attorney appealed. The Appellate Division upheld this order. The Supreme Judicial Court found no error, reasoning that legal fees for nonsupport proceedings cannot be the basis for a separate action by the attorney against the husband.
Sahin v. Sahin, 435 Mass. 396 (2001):
Saltmarsh v. Saltmarsh, 395 Mass. 405 (1985): The wife appealed the dismissal of her equity action to rescind the separation agreement, the dismissal of her objection to the judgment nisi becoming final, and the judgment nisi and denial of her motion for stay of entry of divorce judgment absolute. The wife asserted that the husband misstated information on which she had relied when she agreed to the divorce under G. L. c. 208, Section 1A. The Supreme Judicial Court concluded that an equity action to rescind the separation agreement was inappropriate because the wife had adequate remedy in the divorce action; however, the wife could appeal the dismissal of her objections under Mass. R. Dom. Rel. P. 58(c) to the judgment becoming absolute. The order dismissing the wife's objections was vacated.
Salten v. Ackerman, 64 Mass. App. Ct. 868 (2005): The husband appealed from a divorce judgment regarding the amount of child support, award of counsel fees to the wife, and division of marital assets. The husband claimed the trial judge did not make findings as to his current income and that he was being punished for bad investments. The court affirmed the judgment reasoning that the husband had an obligation to provide adequate financial information, and the judge did not abuse their broad discretion in the division of assets or award of fees based on the husband's conduct.
Slade v. Slade, 43 Mass. App. Ct. 376 (1997): The husband appealed the trial judge's award of $10,000 to the wife. The husband argued that the trial judge exceeded the limitations of the pretrial order, which restricted the issue at trial to the disposition of personal property. The court concluded that the trial judged erred. The court reasoned that the judge's disregard of the pretrial order was unforeseen by the parties, there was no modification of the pretrial order, and there was no express or implied consent to address other issues at trial.
Taverna v. Pizzi, 430 Mass. 882 (2000): After the divorce became final, the wife gave birth to a child; she then filed a complaint to establish paternity and child support. The husband acknowledged paternity. The Probate and Family Court dismissed the complaint and incorporated the case into the divorce docket. The court made several modifications to the divorce judgment, including ordering the husband to pay child support retroactive to the child’s birth. The husband appealed, arguing that the judge did not have authority to award child support retroactively by modifying the divorce judgment since the complaint was dismissed. The Supreme Judicial Court upheld the Probate and Family Court’s orders, reasoning that the judge had the authority to consider the child born of the marriage and order the husband to pay child support retroactively. However, the judge did not have the authority to vacate the parties’ separation agreement to award the wife half of the husband’s 401k or specify that any money left over in the child’s education fund at age twenty-three be distributed to the child.
Vakil v. Vakil, 450 Mass. 411 (2008):
Van Christo Advertising, Inc. v. M/A COM/LCS, 426 Mass. 410 (1998):
Vinci v. Byers, 65 Mass. App. Ct. 135 (2005): The plaintiff, an attorney, brought a malfeasance claim against the attorney who represented him in his divorce. The Superior Court concluded that the three-year statute of limitations precluded plaintiff's claim. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that the continuing representation doctrine should apply. The court rejected this argument, reasoning that the plaintiff did not innocently rely on the attorney's advice, and the plaintiff should have known that the attorney's advice was wrong and harmful.
Williams v. Massa, 431 Mass. 619 (2000): The wife appealed the amended divorce judgment and post-trial motion orders. The Supreme Judicial Court concluded that the property division, attorney's fees, alimony and child support, and joint legal custody orders were proper. However, the court vacated the order that allowed for future modification of custody of the children by a motion by either party. The court directed that, pursuant to G. L. c. 208, § 28, a complaint for modification should be used to change custody. The court reasoned that if the judge thought joint legal custody was not in the children's best interest, sole legal custody should have been ordered; the judge did not have discretion to devise an alternate plan for modification.
Yousif v. Yousif, Docket No. 02-P-487 (2004): The husband appealed a divorce judgment that ordered him to pay $1,080,115 to the wife, awarded the wife all the proceeds from their residence, and declared a trust created by the husband void. The wife challenged the husband's right to appeal because the husband had not made any of the payments required by the judgment, and he was found in contempt. The court ordered the husband's appeal dismissed regarding the payment of $1,080,115 unless he posted bond sufficient to satisfy that amount within sixty days. The court denied the dismissal of the husband's appeal regarding the residence proceeds because the wife had an ability to collect on that part of the judgment. Additionally, the court affirmed the Probate Court's finding that the trust was void because the husband violated a fiduciary duty to the wife.