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Massachusetts Appellate Case Citations by Category

Division of Property Cases

  • Baccanti v. Morton: (2001) Leading Massachusetts case on the treatment of Stock Options in Divorce.
  • Belsky v. Belsky 9 Mass. App. 852 (1980)-Future inheritance can be taken into account when dividing assets in divorce.
  • Bianco v. Bianco 371 Mass. 420 (1976) Early case interpreting MGL
    Ch. 208 section 34 relating to division of assets.
  • Dalessio v. Dalessio 409 Mass. 821(1991) Case involving division of proceeds of personal injury claims in divorce.
  • Dewan v. Dewan 17 Mass. App. Ct. 97(1983)—leading case on dividing
  • D.L. v. G.L., 61 Mass.App.Ct. 488 (2004). The Huband’s interests in certain trusts were property excluded from the marital estate subject to property division pursuant to G.L.c. 208, § 34, and the Husband’s income from the trusts were treated as streams of income to establish alimony and child support orders.
  • Drapek v. Drapek: 399 Mass. 240 (1987). A spouse’s professional degree is not considered a marital asset subject to property division under G.L. c. 208, § 34. However, the spouse’s earning potential is considered when ordering alimony and property division.
  • Early v. State Board of Retirement 420 Mass. 836. Public Employment, Retirement. Retirement. Divorce and Separation, Division of property.
  • Hanify v. Hanify 403 Mass 184(1988) Pending lawsuits are marital
    assets and can be divided by a divorce judgment.
  • Kuban v. Kuban: 48 Mass.App.Ct. 387 (1999). The wife was not entitled to contributions made to the husband's retirement annuities, which were made by the husband's employer after the effective date of the dissolutions of the parties' marriage.
  • Moriarty v. Stone: 41 Mass.App.Ct. 151 (1996). The parties co-habited for ten (10) years prior to their marriage, and it was no error by the judge to consider their pre-marital contributions when determining an equitable division under G.L.c. 208, § 34.
  • Putnam v. Putnam 5 Mass. App. Ct. 10(1977) Division of assets may not
    be justified purely by bad conduct by one of the parties. All factors
    under 208 Section 34 must be considered.
  • Rice v. Rice: 372 Mass. 398, 400 (1977). A party’s estate is defined as “all property to which he holds title, however, acquired.” This allows a judge to assign “to one spouse property of the other whenever and however acquired.”
  • Savides v. Savides: 400 Mass. 250 (1987). After a lengthy separation, it was appropriate for the Court to value the marital assets at the date of separation because the spouse made no further financial contributions to the marriage.
  • Williams v. Massa: (2000) Leading Case on Inherited property.

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Child Custody Cases

  • Ardizoni v. Raymond: 40 Mass.App.Ct. 734 (1996). The best interests of the child is the guiding principle when determining child custody awards.
  • Rosenthal v. Maney, 51 Mass. App. Ct. 257 (2001). A parent may remove a child out of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts if he/she has established a “good, sincere, reason” or a “real advantage” for moving.
  • Bailey v. Bailey 27 Mass. App. Ct. 502(1989) The trial court has the power to decide which parent gets the child dependency exemptions for federal tax purposes.

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Child Support Cases

  • Brooks v. Piela, 61 Mass.App.Ct. 731(2004). In a modification action for child support the probate judge did not abuse her discretion by considering the non-custodial parent’s enhanced income and the disparity of the standard of living in each household, where the judge considered the children’s needs and stipulated evidence that the children’s ages and their increased expenses justified an increase in child support.
  • Department of Revenue v. Roe, 29 Mass.App.Ct. 967 (1990) In paternity cases, pursuant to M.G.L.A. c. 209C, § 9, courts have the authority to order retroactive child support for this period from the birth of the child to the entry of the order.
  • Department of Revenue v. Doe, 31 Mass.App.Ct. 924 (1991) In paternity cases, pursuant to M.G.L.A. c. 209C, § 9, courts have the authority to order retroactive child support for this period from the birth of the child to the entry of the order.
  • Department of Revenue v. G.W.A, 412 Mass. 435 (1992) In paternity cases, pursuant to M.G.L.A. c. 209C, § 9, courts have the authority to order retroactive child support for this period from the birth of the child to the entry of the order.
  • Donovan v. Donovan 15 Mass. App. Ct 61(1982) Worker’s compensation benefits can be assigned for payment of alimony and child support.
  • O’Meara v. Doherty, 53. Mass.App.Ct. 599 (2002). In paternity cases, pursuant to M.G.L.A. c. 209C, § 9, courts have the authority to order retroactive child support for this period from the birth of the child to the entry of the order.
  • Passemato v. Passemato: (1998) Leading Case of Educational Trust for College Expenses.
  • Richardson v. Department of Revenue, 423 Mass. 378 (1996). A person who voluntarily acknowledges his paternity, and agrees to pay child support is not entitled to recover child support payments when it was determined that he was not the father nine (9) years later.
  • Schuler v. Schuler: 382 Mass. 366 (1981). The husband filed a Complaint for Modification to reduce his support obligations because he had a substantial reduction in income. The Court refused to reduce his support payments because he failed to show “a material change in circumstances” as he still had the ability to pay his current support obligations.
  • Silvia v. Silvia 9 Mass. Appt. Ct 339(1980)—The income or assets of a second spouse can be considered by the court in awarding child support because the existence of these assets or income effects the ability of parents to use their own resources to pay child support.

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Visitation Cases

Grandparent Visitation
  • Blixt v. Blixt: 437 Mass. 649 (2002). In a Complaint for Grandparent Visitation, the grandparent must show that the “failure to grant visitation will cause the child significant harm by adversely affecting the child’s health, safety, or welfare. The requirement of significant harm presupposes proof of a showing of a significant preexisting relationship between the grandparent and the child. In the absence of such a relationship, the grandparent must prove that visitation between the grandparent and the child is nevertheless necessary to protect the child from significant harm.”
  • Dearborn v. Deausault: 61 Mass.App.Ct. 234 (2004). A substantial, meaningful and nurturing relationship between a grandparent and grandchild is not the kind of relationship that failure to grant visitation will cause the child significant harm. If, however, the grandparent can show through "expert testimony or otherwise" that visitation is necessary to protect the children from significant harm, the grandparent may present such evidence to the court.

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Prenuptial Agreement Cases

  • Dematteo v. Dematteo: (2002) Leading Massachusetts Case on Prenuptial Agreements.
  • Knox v. Remick: 371 Mass. 433 (1976). If a judge finds that a parties' separation agreement "was not a product of fraud or coercion," fair and reasonable at the time of entry of the judgment nisi, and the parties agreed to the finality of their agreement's provision regarding spousal support, then the separation agreement should be specifically enforced 'absent countervailing equities.' An example of ‘countervailing equities’ may be that a spouse is or will become a public charge or where a party has not complied with a provision of the separation agreement.
  • Austin v. Austin: Divorce and Separation, Antenuptial agreement. Complaint for divorce filed in the Barnstable Division of the Probate and Family Court Department on May 31, 2001.

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College Education & Divorce Cases

  • Lang v. Koon, 61 Mass.App.Ct. 22 (2004). A judge erred by ordering future college expenses where there were no special circumstances to justify the order.
  • McCarthy v. McCarthy: 36 Mass.App.Ct. 490 (1994). The parties’ separation agreement survived the judgment of divorce and had independent legal significance, and there was no provision regarding college education. As such, there was no significant change in circumstances to justify a modification of the parties’ agreement to order the husband to pay for college educational expenses.
  • Purdy v. Colangelo, 61 Mass.App.Ct. 362 (2004). When a separation agreement is silent as to college education, a party may not seek a judicial modification of the agreement for college contribution after the child graduates, unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Alimony Cases

  • Cohan v. Feuer 442 Mass. 151, (2004) The general rule is that the payment of alimony terminates when the obligor spouse dies or the obligee remarries, “unless either (1) the original decree on agreement provides otherwise or the parties legally amend their agreement to provide otherwise, or (2) in the case of the obligor’s death, the court makes written findings establishing that termination of the award would work a substantial injustice because of facts not present in most cases.
  • Cooper v. Cooper, 62 Mass.App.Ct. 130 (2004). A judge’s finding did support its order to modify alimony in excess of the terms of the original divorce judgment. Thus; its judgment was vacated as to the alimony order that was in excess of the original divorce judgment, unless a judge found that “the husband’s income was of such magnitude as to be well in excess of adjustments to income reasonably anticipated by the parties’ separation agreement and that the agreement’s provisions for support and property were inadequate to maintain the wife in the standard of living enjoyed by the parties while married.”
  • D.L. v. G.L., 61 Mass.App.Ct. 488 (2004). Based on the circumstances in this case, it was an error to limit the duration of the Wife’s alimony award, as her future income from employment was uncertain and her expected inheritence was too indefinite in time.
  • Goldman v. Goldman 28 Mass App. Ct. 603 (1990.) Court disapproved a trial court order of eight years of alimony in a 20 year marriage.
  • Gottsegen v. Gottsegen 397 Mass. 617(1986.) Important case on the issue of enforceability of co-habitation clauses terminating alimony.
  • Grubert v. Grubert: 20 Mass. App. Ct. 811, 819 (1985). When awarding alimony to a spouse, the “need” of a spouse is determined by “the ‘station’ of the parties --- by what is required to maintain a standard of living comparable to the one enjoyed during the marriage.”
  • Lynch v. Lynch 5 Mass. Appt. Ct. 167(1977.) Marital conduct cannot be the primary determinant of the amount of alimony.
  • Rosenberg v. Rosenberg 33 Mass. App. Ct. 903(1992) In high asset case, involving a long term marriage, the wife received $4,000,000 in cash and other assets equivalent to approximately 30 percent of a marital estate worth $22,000,000. The court approved a judgment awarding $2000 per week alimony in addition to this property settlement.
  • Sampson v. Sampson, 62 Mass.App.Ct. 366 (2004). The alimony award was vacated and the issue of property division was remanded for reconsideration because the probate judge’s order left the wife in “economically strained circumstances while [the husband was] guaranteed continued enjoyment of the secure, comfortable marital lifestyle.”
  • Thomsen v. Thomsen 12 Mass. Appt. Ct 1010 (1981)—Alimony award which included cost of living increase was permissible.

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Jurisdiction Cases

Residency Requiremments
  • Caffyn v. Caffyn: (2004) Leading case on residency requirement for filing for divorce in Massachusetts.
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Alphabetical Index of Massachusetts Appellate Cases