Massachusetts Divorce Cases / Jurisdiction
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 Jurisdiction.
Jurisdiction Cases in Massachusetts
Caffyn v. Caffyn, 441 Mass. 487 (2004):
“A plaintiff in a divorce action who has not complied with the statutory one-year residency requirement may nevertheless satisfy the alternative statutory requirements for subject matter jurisdiction in Massachusetts, by asserting domicile after a brief period of residence and claiming that the cause for the divorce, namely an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, occurred in Massachusetts.”
Adoption of Anisha, Docket: 15-P-1611 (2016):
Bak v. Bak,
24 Mass. App. Ct. 608 (1987): In this dispute over child custody in a divorce proceeding, the probate court judge did not err in refusing to defer to a West German court order regarding the issue of child custody because the child had lived in Massachusetts for over 13 months prior to the divorce.
Barnard vs. Barnard, 331 Mass. 455 (1954):
Beaulieu v. Beaulieu, 46 Mass. App. Ct. 850 (1999):
Bowditch v. Bowditch, 314 Mass. 410 (1943):
Caplan v. Donovan, 450 Mass. 463 (2008): The Supreme Judicial Court concluded that a Massachusetts court had jurisdiction to issue the plaintiff an abuse prevention order (G. L. c. 209A) even though the defendant resided in Florida. The court reasoned that an abuse prevention order does not require personal jurisdiction of the defendant. However, a court cannot impose affirmative obligations on the defendant, such as requiring the defendant to surrender firearms or compensate the plaintiff, without personal jurisdiction.
Cartledge v. Evans, Docket 05-P-1300 (2006): The mother sought to relocate with the child out of state. The Probate and Family Court denied the request and ordered the mother, who had already moved, to return to within twenty-five miles of Boston. The mother appealed and filed a motion to stay the order pending the appeal. A single justice granted the motion and father appealed. The Appeals Court affirmed the single justice's order because there was no abuse of discretion. However, the Appeals Court reversed the denial of mother's request to relocate, reasoning that she had good reason for the move, the trial court inappropriately gave dispositive weight to how the move would disrupt father's visitation, and the findings did not support that the move was not in the best interests of the child.
Cerutti-O'Brien v. Cerutti-O'Brien, 77 Mass. App. Ct. 166 (2010): The plaintiff appealed the Probate and Family Court's dismissal of two complaints for divorce due to lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The plaintiff argued that she was domiciled in Massachusetts, so subject matter jurisdiction was proper. The court affirmed the Probate and Family Court's dismissal of the complaints, reasoning that the plaintiff changed her domicil to Florida after the parties got married because they moved there and purchased a marital residence.
Chaar v. Chehab, 78 Mass. App. Ct. 501 (2010): Massachusetts Child Custody Jurisdiction Act governs all cases of custody dispute where a parent as attempted to enforce a judgment from the court of another country. If the laws of that court meet the substantial conformity test, then the courts of the Commonwealth shall enforce the international judgment. The test has three prongs: 1) the foreign court had jurisdiction over the parties and the subject matter; 2) the foreign court applied procedural and substantive law reasonably comparable to the Commonwealth’s laws; and 3) the foreign court based its order on a finding of the best interest of the child. MA Appeals court did not enforce the foreign judgment because it did not conform to MA laws under the substantial conformity test.
Cherin v. Cherin, Docket No. 07-P-522 (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.
Coe v. Coe, 316 Mass. 423 (1944):
Cohen v. Cohen, 470 Mass. 708 (2015):
Colarusso v. Teacher's Retirement Board & Others, Colarusso v. Teachers' Retirement Board & Others, 378 Mass. 470 (1979): The husband went to Nevada for three months, obtained a divorce, remarried, and then returned to Massachusetts. The wife appealed the Nevada divorce. The court concluded that the divorce was not valid under G. L. c. 208, Section 39 because the cause for the divorce occurred in Massachusetts. The court also concluded that the divorce was not valid because the Nevada court lacked jurisdiction. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the finding that the divorce was invalid but rejected the lower court's reliance on G. L. c. 208. The divorce was invalid because the husband never obtained domicil in Nevada, so the Nevada court lacked jurisdiction to grant the divorce.
Cricenti v. Weiland , 44 Mass. App. Ct. 785 (1998):
Custody of a Minor (No. 3), 392 Mass. 728 (1984):
Feinberg v. Diamant, 378 Mass. 131 (1979): “Jurisdiction to issue an order compelling a divorced parent to contribute to support of an incapacitated adult child is vested in probate court, not by reason of statute, but by reason of its general equity powers or powers to decide all matters relative to persons placed under guardianship of another or others.”
Fortier v. Rogers, 44 Mass. App. Ct. 732 (1998):
Friedrich v. Friedrich, 230 Mass. 59
Guardianship of Zeke, 422 Mass. 438 (1996):
Hernandez v. Branciforte,
55 Mass. App. Ct. 212 (2002): Wife appealed an order of the Probate and Family Court which placed her in contempt and granted her husband’s complaint for modification of judgment of divorce nisi after the wife had moved to Italy with their child. The court held that Massachusetts had jurisdiction because the Italian court refused to decide on the issue when the husband originally filed it in Italy. Also the child and the father both had “significant connection” to the Commonwealth.
Heron v. Heron, 428 Mass. 537 (1998): Former wife filed for modification of divorce judgment out of state. The SJC held that modification could not be made out of state due to the full faith and credit doctrine. Furthermore, because the ordering state, under the state’s own law would not allow the modification, the full faith and credit doctrine precludes a Massachusetts court from doing so.
I.S.H. v. M.D.B., No. 11-P-224 (2013): The father appealed the paternity judgment issued by the Probate and Family Court, contending that the court lacked personal jurisdiction over him as a Florida resident. The mother argued that the Probate and Family Court had personal jurisdiction because she was forced to flee to Massachusetts and that father had waived any objection to jurisdiction. The Appeals Court concluded that the father had not waived his personal jurisdiction objection, reasoning that he had sufficiently alerted the judge to this defense. The case was remanded as to whether there was personal jurisdiction over the father.
Khan v. Saminni, 446 Mass. 88 (2006): “A consent decree issued by a family court in Trinidad was in substantial conformity with the law of Massachusetts such that the trial court was required under Massachusetts Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (MCCJA) to defer jurisdiction over the matter to the family court in Trinidad.”
Klingel v. Reill, 446 Mass. 80 (2006): Massachusetts court had jurisdiction to enforce its child support order previously rendered where the child and wife moved back to the Commonwealth even though the husband was no longer a resident in Massachusetts. There is no requirement of continuous and uninterrupted residence in the state which issued the original order.
L.H. vs. T.E.L., 401 Mass. 101 (1987):
Lorant v. Lorant, 366 Mass. 380 (1974):
Macdougall v. Acres, 427 Mass. 363 (1998):
Mannor v. Mannor, 46 Mass. App. Ct. 46 (1998): A judgment of divorce in Ohio entered on 1994, was valid and rendered a separate divorce judgment entered in Massachusetts on 1995, a nullity; the child and spousal support orders contained in the Ohio judgment were enforceable under the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act without regard to any authority of the Probate and Family Court to enter temporary orders.
Miller v. Miller,
448 Mass. 320 (2007): Where the parties irretrievable break down of their marriage occurred at a time when at least one of the parties was domiciled in Massachusetts, the Commonwealth shall have subject matter jurisdiction over the divorce action. Where the plaintiff can show that the terms of the long arm statute are satisfied, the court shall also have personal jurisdiction over the husband in a divorce action.
Morris . Morris, 403 Mass. 1001 (1988):
P.W. v. M.S., Docket 06-P-307 (2006): The father filed an interlocutory appeal regarding the Probate and Family Court's decision to allow a guardian ad litem (GAL) unrestricted access to his medical and mental health records. The father argued that the order violated his various privileges, and that the trial judge improperly delegated their statutory duty to conduct an in camera review of the records to the GAL. The Appeals Court concluded that the judge must conduct the in camera review and exercise their own discretion regarding privilege determinations. The court vacated the order and remanded to clarify the status of the father's visitation to determine whether a disclosure of the records was necessary.
Rubinstein v. Rubinstein, 319 Mass. 568 (1946): The Supreme Judicial Court concluded that Nevada did not have jurisdiction to grant the husband's petition for a divorce because the husband was not domiciled there. The court also denied the wife's separate petition for a divorce based on desertion. The court reasoned that desertion had not accrued at the time of the filing. However, the court remanded as to whether divorce could be granted on the basis of cruel and abusive treatment.
Rosa v. Rosa, 296 Mass. 271 (1936):
Royal v. Royal, 324 Mass. 613 (1949):
Signorelli v. Albano, 21 Mass. App. Ct. 939 (1981):
Simmons v Simmons, 38 Mass. App. Ct. 50 (1995):
Vorontsova v. Waronzov, 75 Mass. App. Ct. 20 (2009):
Wakefield v. Hegarty, 67 Mass. App. Ct. 772 (2006): The Probate and Family Court allowed the mother to relocate with the minor child out of state and granted her sole legal and physical custody. The father appealed. The Appeals Court found that the trial judge's findings were supported by the record, the judge applied the correct legal standard, and there was no abuse of discretion in finding that the mother's move demonstrated a real advantage, the move was in the child's best interest, or in awarding mother sole legal custody. Additionally, the mother did not aim to deprive the father of reasonable visitation, and she made an effort to continue fostering the relationship between the father and the child.
Windsor v. Windsor, 45 Mass. App. Ct. 650 (1998):
Wood v. Wood, 369 Mass. 665 (1976):