The short answer, according to a recent Appeals Court Memorandum and Order Pursuant to Rule 23.0, is yes. In the unpublished case of Sanavage v. Chavis, the parties were never married and were the parents of one child together. Following a trial on the father's complaint for custody, support and parenting time, the Probate and Family Court issued a judgment ordering, in relevant part, that the child should continue to reside primarily with the mother, that father would have regular parenting time, and that the parents would abide by specific provisions with respect to their co-parenting communications, such as only communicating with each other about matters related to the child and only via text message or email, among other restrictions. The trial judge inserted these detailed provisions because the evidence presented at trial demonstrated that the parties had experienced difficulty in co-parenting effectively throughout the child's life; presumably, the judge was intending to reduce any similar friction by imposing certain limitations on the parties' future co-parenting communications.
In many divorce cases, the parties and their children maintain common health insurance coverage, often through a plan that is available as the result of one party's employment. If both parties are employed at the time of their divorce, then it is commonplace for each of them to agree to obtain and pay for his or her own individual health insurance post-divorce. However, in cases where one party will not have the ability to access reasonably priced health insurance post-divorce - normally because he or she is not eligible to receive full health insurance coverage through employment - the parties' Separation Agreement or Judgment of Divorce must address how each party will obtain and pay for their health insurance. Luckily, and depending on the specific insurance plan(s) at issue, Massachusetts allows individuals to remain on their ex-spouse's health and dental insurance plans post-divorce, as provided for in G. L. c. 175, 110I. Importantly, this right is not automatic; if one party intends to stay on an ex-spouse's health insurance plan post-divorce, then that entitlement must be specifically incorporated into the parties' Separation Agreement or Judgment of Divorce in order to be enforceable.
It is natural for a couple going through a contentious divorce to lack trust in each other. Accordingly, one of the first questions that a divorcing party will often ask their attorney is how they can be sure that their soon-to-be-ex-spouse has fully and fairly disclosed all of his or her property, and that he or she has not engaged in "divorce planning" - that is, moving or concealing assets that could be considered marital property so that they will not have to be shared with the other spouse upon divorce.
Many litigants, particularly in highly contested divorce or custody modification actions, often insist that their case will never settle, and will ultimately need to proceed to a trial. In fact, only a very small portion of such cases which are filed in the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court proceed to a trial. This is due in part to one of the most important court dates for both lawyers and litigants alike: the pre-trial conference.
The Massachusetts Appeals Court has issued a Rule 1:28 Memorandum and Order in a divorce case entitled Roof v. Abelowitz upholding the validity and enforceability of a prenuptial agreement that the wife signed only one day prior to the wedding. The court considered two particularly interesting factors in finding that the wife's waiver of rights under the prenuptial agreement was valid. In this case, the size and formality of the wedding and the prior married and divorced status of the wife carried weight.
Last month, the Commonwealth's highest appellate court considered how legal parenthood is defined in the context of children born to a same-sex couple as a result of artificial insemination. The case, Partanen v. Gallagher, is currently under advisement by the Supreme Judicial Court. The Court's opinion could result in new parameters for what it means to be a parent in Massachusetts. At issue is the scope of the legal rights that an unmarried woman, who was previously in a relationship with the child's biological mother when the child was conceived using artificial insemination, enjoys after the relationship ends.
The cross-border enforcement of child support has long bedeviled parents and children who seek a delinquent parent's compliance with a court order. Given the many difficulties inherent to the enforcement of court orders in foreign jurisdictions, as well as the heavy costs associated with those efforts, many parents had a difficult time registering and enforcing child support orders if the debtor was in another country.
We've been asked the question "who gets the engagement ring?" by a number of clients whose engagements have been terminated prior to marriage. As so often is the case in family law, the answer to that question is "it depends."
Registering a child support order that was obtained in another state or even in another country is accomplished in Massachusetts by following the procedure outlined in M.G.L. c. 209D. Otherwise known as the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act ("UIFSA"), this statutory scheme allows petitioners to register and enforce child support orders here in Massachusetts even though they were obtained in another state or country.