WE HELP FAMILIES RESOLVE CONFLICT PEACEFULLY


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The New Massachusetts Standing Order on Parent Coordination: An Overview

Guest Post by Tony Pelusi*

Well it has finally come to be; earlier this month the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court issued Standing Order 1-17 setting forth the qualifications, standards of practice, and scope of authority for Massachusetts Parenting Coordinators (PC).  For the first time in the history of the Commonwealth this rule informs clients, attorneys, and judges what is necessary to avail themselves of the multitude of benefits of the PC process provides. Those who wish to access the full text of rule directly may click here.  What follows is a summary of the salient provisions for practitioners and parents.

First, Qualifications & Training:

For starters, a PC must be a licensed, experienced, and specially trained lawyer or mental health professional.   To qualify for appointment as a PC individuals must apply to the Court and be approved, demonstrating that they have completed at least

  • 30 hours of mediation training, 
  • 6 hours of training in intimate partner abuse and family violence, and
  • 35 hours of accredited specialty training on matters relevant to parenting, conflict resolution, problem solving and communication skills.
They must also carry at least $100,000.00 of professional liability insurance.  Once approved that individual is required to commit to a minimum of 6 hours of continuing education each year. When approved by the court, their name is placed on a list in no more than four counties where judges can appoint and, attorneys and client may choose to engage their services.

Next, the Protocol:

The standing order establishes uniform standards of practice for all parties to follow.  For example, once an individual is selected to serve, the clients, attorneys and PC must enter into a written stipulation that with judicial approval sets forth at least the following:

  • The PC is qualified and on the approved list;
  • There is a written service agreement signed by both parents and the PC;
  • The duties of the PC (including whether the parents agree that the PC shall have binding decision-making authority) are clearly established;
  • The scope of the PC’s authority;
  • The term of appointment – not to exceed two years;
  • The amount or rate of compensation to be paid, how the fees are to be allocated between the parents, and the maximum expenditure of each parent during the term of the engagement; and
  • The appointment is consistent with the best interests of the children.

Before entering the order or incorporating the agreement into a judgement the judge must inquire of the parents and determine that they fully understand the following:
"(i) if incorporated into an order, the agreement cannot be changed by the court without the filing of a motion and a showing of good cause and a showing that such change is in the best interests of the child or children; or  
(ii) if incorporated into a judgment, cannot be modified by the court without the filing of complaint for modification and a showing of a material change in circumstances and a showing that such modification is in the best interests of the child or children; and  
(iii) the parties have the right to access the court so that the court can determine fundamental issues of care and custody and/or parenting time and support, even where the parties have agreed to binding decision-making authority of the parenting coordinator; and  
(iv) the court will not draw any adverse inference if the party does not agree to use a parenting coordinator."
        Appointment of a PC even if the parties don't agree:

        .The standing order also sets forth similar provisions for the appointment of a PC without the agreement of the parties.  Here the court must first determine that the level of conflict between the parents is such that it warrants the appointment of a PC.   In addition to that which is set forth above, the court must also determine that:
        "(i) it is in the best interests of the child or children involved in the parenting plan; and  
        (ii) the parties have failed to successfully implement the parenting plan; or 
        (iii) the level of parental conflict is, or may become, detrimental to the child or children involved in the parenting plan."
        In circumstances such as this the parents have the right to notice and a hearing before any appointment.  And, if the matter is still pending, the appointment will be effective only so long as the matter is pending and will terminate upon entry of a judgement in the action.  Here, the court is also required to make written finding as to why the PC is being appointed, the full contact information for the PC, the duties of the PC,  the term of service of the PC, and how the fees and expenses of the PC are to be allocated between the parents.

        Most notably the rule states:
        "Notwithstanding any other provisions of this standing order, 'a judge may not require the parties to use the services of a parent[ing] coordinator if the order would require one or both parents to pay for the services without his or her consent.' Bower v. Bournay-Bower , 469 Mass. 690 (2014). If neither party agrees to pay to use the services of a parenting coordinator, the court is not permitted to enter an order or judgment requiring the use of a parenting coordinator. (emphasis added)"
        Only after these procedural protections have been met will the appointment become effective.

        The Scope of Authority & Process:

        Standing Order 1-17 also provides an extensive list of duties that the parents may agree are permissible for the PC to perform.  The primary function of every PC is to assist the parents to amicably resolve disputes and reach agreements about the implementation of and compliance with the order and parenting plan.  Some of the particular duties that a PC can perform in furtherance of this responsibility are to make minor changes or clarifications to the existing parenting plan, determinations concerning transitions of children between parents including date, time, place, and means of and responsibilities for transportation, education and day care, tutoring, after school programs, extracurricular and enrichment activities, children’s travel and passport, psychotherapy and mental health care, religious education and observances, and the role and contact with significant others.  PC’s may also support their clients in developing guidelines for appropriate communication between them, suggesting resources to assist parents, and as an objective observer identify and address certain patterns of behavior that negatively impact coparenting.

        Whenever parents come to a facilitated agreement that modifies and existing court order or judgement it is incumbent on the PC to advise them that such agreements are not enforceable unless and until it is submitted to the court for ratification.

        There are also specific duties that all PC’s are prohibited from performing:  PC are not permitted to communicate with the court unless by motion with service on all parties and counsel.  They may not testify as an expert witness, change legal or physical custody in a manner that impacts child support, offer legal advice, representation, therapy or counselling, delegate any portion of their responsibilities, or make binding decisions without the express permission to do so set forth in writing in the stipulation, court order or judgment, and PC service agreement.

        While the author of this article and his clients’ agree otherwise in writing, it is permissible for PC to testify in court as a fact witness if subpoenaed, to produce documents, and file a motion or complaint for the appointment of a GAL to assert or waive a child’s privilege, and/or to request and immediate hearing if a child is perceived to be in imminent physical or emotional danger.  And while not provided in this order most PC service agreements contain a clause that notifies parents’ that the PC reserves the right to report reasonable fears concerning an individual’s safety, child maltreatment and or abuse.

        PC’s are typically permitted access to all non-impounded case records.  This means that the judge must specifically authorize the PC to receive a copy of any GAL reports.  Parents may choose to and cannot be required by their PC to release confidential or privileged information.  PC’s are obligated to hold all information received during an engagement as confidential.  And, all information acquired by the PC during the course of the engagement may be disclosed to either or both parents, subject to the PC’s discretion and the law, and can be used as a basis for any decision.  Parents have the right to authorize the release to the PC all non-confidential or privileged information concerning their children. However, only a GAL appointed by the court can recommend the release of information from the child’s psychotherapist, counsellor, and/or social worker.

        The rule provides that it is an impermissible conflict of interest for a PC to serve in a dual or multiple capacity with their clients; for example, attorney, therapist, GAL, etc.

        In matters where domestic violence is a credible concern the court is obligated to offer parties the opportunity to consult with an attorney or domestic violence advocate of their choosing.  Further the court is prohibited from appointing a PC over the objection of a party in matters where domestic violence is a credible concern.

        How the PC process terminates:

        Next the order sets forth detailed and specific requirements and parameters for the replacement, extension of and/or early termination of a PC’s term of service.  The process is similar except that the standard differs depending on whether or not the matter is pending.  In each instance a parent must file with the court.  In either instance the court must that the requested action is in the best interests of the children.  If the matter is not pending, the court must find that there has been a material change in circumstances; if the matter is pending the court need only find good cause.  When the parents seek to extend the term of the PC they must seek court approval and the extended term is limited to 1 year which may be renewed as needed.   If both parents agree to replace one PC with another, again, their preference must be approved by the court and depending on the status of the action meet the standards set forth above.

        If the PC chooses to resign they must provide written notice sent by first class mail to each parent and all attorneys involved in the matter.  This notice must state the effective date of the resignation which cannot be less than 15 days after the date the notice is mailed.  Then the PC must file a copy of the resignation with the court at least seven days prior to its effective date.  The parents may thereafter agree on a replacement PC the appointment of which must be approved by the court as set forth in the order.

        The scope of duties of the PC may be modified by agreement of the parents in accordance with the procedures outlined above pertaining to extension and or early termination.  And to be enforceable the court must recognize this stipulation as an Order or part of an Agreement.


        *Tony Pelusi, Jr., JD, CPCC is a Boston area Lawyer, parenting coordinator, professional coach and relationship facilitator. He uses his skill and experience to help individuals, couples, families, and cohorts realize their full potential.  Learn more about Tony here.

        Tuesday, February 7, 2017

        Unvested Stock Options may be Income for Alimony Purposes - Ludwig v. Lamee-Ludwig

        In Hoegen v. Hoegen, the Massachusetts Appeals Court addressed whether it was a double dip to include restricted stock unit income in a child support order when those stocks had already been considered in the asset division.  The Appeals Court determined that the income should be included in the calculation, because the child support income definition is broad.  For more on that decision visit: Income: What's In and What's Out when Calculating Child Support?

        In contrast to the child support guidelines, Massachusetts law on alimony specifically excludes income from previously divided assets: "When issuing an order for alimony, the court shall exclude from its income calculation: (1) capital gains income and dividend and interest income which derive from assets equitably divided between the parties under section 34..." MGL c. 208 § 53  This means that the RSUs addressed in the Hoegen case would not be included for alimony calculations.  But what about stock options that were unvested at the time of divorce?

        Are future and unvested stock options included in calculating alimony?

        The Appeals Court addressed this question regarding the inclusion of unvested & future employee stock options for alimony calculations in Ludwig v. Lamee-Ludwig.  The short answer is that they can be included, and it is not a double dip because they were not part of the asset division in the divorce.

        In Ludwig, the trial judge concluded that "it would not constitute double counting if such income were included in determining the husband's alimony obligation to the wife" and that the options should be valued on a date "closest in time to entry of the original divorce judgment."  The husband appealed both issues and the Appeals Court agreed with the trial court.

        It is worth noting that the parties divorce was completed by agreement, leaving only these two issues to the judge's discretion.  They failed to reach agreement on these issues in their divorce agreement thereby leading to this additional litigation and appeal.  This highlights the importance and value of mediation and collaborative approaches, which place self-determination above the risk and expense of court resolution.

        Because of the application of the "time-rule" from the Bacanti case, the unvested options were not included in the asset division by the parties' agreement.  The appeals court noted that this avoids the injustice of a double-dip "because the contested shares were not part of the equitable distribution of assets; by operation of the time rule, they were assigned to and retained by the husband outright."  The husband relied on language in the Bacanti case indicating that unvested options "belong solely to the employee spouse."  However, the appeals court distinguished Bacanti as dealing only with asset division and not alimony obligations.

        The husband also appealed the timing of valuation, which the court chose as the date of the divorce, but the husband argues should have been the time of separation.  The appeals court defers to the discretion of the trial judge on this issue.

        Double Counting in the Dicta

        There is also an important "dicta" in this decision which might concern other payors resorting to litigation.  The Appeals Court noted that "[w]hile disfavored, double counting is not prohibited as a matter of law", thereby opening the door for other recipients to argue that a double dip may be appropriate even beyond the facts in Hoegen or Ludwig.



        Thursday, January 19, 2017

        Online Tool for Creating Parenting Plans

        It is our hope that all families find a way to resolve conflict peacefully.  This is especially true when children are involved.  Divorced or separated parenting has many complications and the first is just deciding how to share time with a child from two separate households.  Developing a schedule can result in a lot of tension, especially if parents have trouble picturing how this new schedule will interact with their work schedules and the schedules of their children.

        To help make this easier, we've created an online tool for creating parenting plans that is simple and easy to use:

        We encourage parents, regardless of the process they are using to divorce, to use this form to assist in evaluating and settling custody disputes. The form allows you to choose between the Model Parenting Plan proposals or customize your parenting plan over a four week period by clicking directly on the form.  When you click on a section of the calendar it switches between Mom and Dad, and if you choose to print the calendar directly from the web it results in this user-friendly printable format:
        We have also provided a gender-neutral version of this form for parents for whom that is more appropriate:


        The form is not intended to convey a preference for one type of parenting plan over another, but instead to recognize that every family is unique and should develop a plan that fits their needs.  Every block in the worksheet can be toggled back and forth between parents so they can easily see what different schedules will look like.  We hope that this tool is used by parents and practitioners to assist in reducing family conflict.

        If you have any questions about the form or want to provide us feedback please don't hesitate to e-mail us or call at 508.655.5980.


        Monday, January 16, 2017

        The Absurdity of Death & Divorce and the Importance of Professional Optimism

        I recently discovered Reply All, which is a podcast that explores interesting and amazing stories about the internet.  I've been listening to past episodes and today I discovered Episode #2: The Secret, Gruesome Internet For Doctors, which focuses on the existence of an app for doctors called Figure One.  Figure One is essentially an Instagram of gruesome photos of bodily diseases and injuries posted by doctors, potentially for educational purposes but mostly just for story sharing.  What's really interesting about this app is how normal it seems to doctors and how abnormal/gross/scary it is to everyone else.

        There are professions, like soldier or doctor, that deal with death and the fragility of life on such a regular basis that it becomes normal to them.  This creates a disconnect between what feels normal to a doctor and what feels normal to a patient.  The doctor has faced the absurdity of death in a way that the rest of us try to remain ignorant of.  Good doctors use empathy to bridge that gap.  They can't go back and unsee the things they've seen but they can try to understand that a patient doesn't have that same experience and doesn't want to have it.

        We, the pool of potential patients, survive by not worrying constantly about the 100% likelihood of our eventual demise.  That blind optimism about our own moment-to-moment immortality is actually very similar to how most people view (or want to view) relationships.  As a divorce mediator/attorney I deal constantly with the death of relationships.  Like a doctor who may see thousands of different ways that people can die, I spend my days dissecting the remains of broken relationships.  For many divorce attorneys and mediators that familiarity with the end of relationships becomes our normal and can callous us to the raw emotion and loss that people feel at the end of a relationship.

        This disconnect was highlighted for me recently when I heard about and visited the webpage for the Museum of Broken Relationships.  While many would see these exhibits as something sad or perhaps cathartic, my first reaction was that of a clinician, wondering the legal status of the personal property on display.  As I thought about it more, though, I was curious about what my clients would put in the museum.  Did I know any of them well enough to guess what the symbol of their break up would be for them?  Would asking them to think about that be helpful or too painful?

        The Secret, Gruesome, Internet for Doctors and the Museum of Broken Relationships could both be viewed as cold reminders that all things come to an end, and if that's all they were then the only interest would be from clinicians or those with a morbid curiosity.  However, there is a benefit to collecting reminders of pain in one place and putting them on display.  Anything can become normal if you deal with it enough, but reminding ourselves of that makes us a little uncomfortable.  It reminds us that we weren't always jaded.  Knowledge of the underbelly of life doesn't mean you have to lose the capacity for hope and empathy.  In fact, a practitioner who knows the worst that can happen and still has hope is the best possible model for a person in pain.

        When I teach mediation, I tell students that there are two important traits the mediator should bring to the mediation.  In addition to the skills a mediator must learn to help clients resolve their disputes, mediators must be curious and optimistic.  While curiosity helps the mediator get to the heart of the issue, optimism helps clients feel comfortable exposing their heart.  Even when people believe there is no way they can resolve their dispute, the mediator's belief that it can be resolved keeps the door open, and gives the clients hope.  Patients and clients might hire you for your experience or your knowledge, but they can't succeed without hope.
        "Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.


        Friday, December 9, 2016

        Why do People go to Court to get Divorced? Because that's where the money is...

        There is a story that Willie Sutton, a famous bank robber, once responded to a reporter who asked "Why do you rob banks?" with the simple answer "Because that's where the money is!"  While that story is probably made up, it reminds me of the reason that most people go to court to get divorced: because that's where the paperwork has to be filed.

        Of course, if divorce was as simple as filling out the paperwork then there would be no need to write anything further.  However, the act of getting divorced involves numerous aspects of a couple's lives including finances, parenting, communication, loss of a relationship, forming of new relationship dynamic, etc.


        One Court's Answer:

        One court in San Francisco, California has recognized this problem by "strongly recommending" that people filing with the court in family law matters first consider out-of-court dispute resolution options:
        "The San Francisco Superior Court and its Family Law Department strongly recommend the use of alternative dispute resolution methods in family law matters. This Notice is intended to inform parties and counsel about the nature and availability of such methods. All parties and all counsel in such matters must file and serve a signed copy of this Notice in the manner prescribed in Rule 11.17 of these Rules."  NOTICE OF NATURE AND AVAILABILITY OF ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION METHODS IN FAMILY LAW MATTERS
        The Notice explains the options of mediation and collaborative law in depth, as well as describing areas where those options might not be appropriate.  While you can't force someone to really consider all their options, this Notice at least ensures that the parties are aware they had options.

        How does Massachusetts Compare?

        In Massachusetts, we have a similar rule about informing parties of ADR options but the Uniform Counsel Certification Form is only signed by counsel and this is the entire text:
        In accordance with Rule 5 of the Supreme Judicial Court Uniform Rules on Dispute Resolution (SJC Rule 1:18) which states in part: 
        "...Attorneys shall provide their clients with this information about court-connected dispute resolution services; discuss with their clients the advantages and disadvantages of the various methods of dispute resolution; and certify their compliance with this requirement on the civil cover sheet or its equivalent." 
        I hereby certify that I have complied with this requirement.
        Many people don't go to court because that is their best option, it's often because they don't know that they have other options.  The Rule 5 form is an opportunity to educate, instead of just treating it like a formality.

        Dealing with the Conflict of Interest:

        Critics of how family court is structured in the United States often point to the conflict of interest that divorce attorneys have:  attorneys make more when there is more conflict and when cases go to court instead of settling.  In fact, there's a whole "documentary" dedicated to the subject: Divorce Corp.
        This type of conflict is not unique to the legal field.  In medical ethics, for example, one answer to addressing this type of conflict has been to require "informed consent": "But signing a form alone does not necessarily prove that the patient gave informed consent. The doctor must actually discuss the procedure and risks with the patient. And the patient must understand, to the extent possible, the risks he or she faces."

        If attorneys and the family court are serious about client autonomy and the right of parties to settle on an informed basis, then the parties have to know their options before proceeding in court.  Otherwise, it's a fair criticism to say that clients are often encouraged to go to court "because that's where the money is" for the lawyers.

        I truly believe that the majority of divorce attorneys are not following purely financial motivation, but if I'm right then we need to support better efforts for "informed consent" by our clients.  California is clearly leading on this front, and Massachusetts courts should follow suit.

        Sunday, November 27, 2016

        Can Child Support be Modified Retroactively? The Appeals Court Answers in Rosen v. Rosen

        The Massachusetts statute on the enforcement of child support judgments is very clear that child support judgments are not "subject to retroactive modification except with respect to any period during which there is pending a complaint for modification." M.G.L. c. 119A §13(a).  A recent Massachusetts Appeals Court decision recognized some exceptions to this rule "in certain very limited circumstances." Rosen v. Rosen (2016)

        The Rosen case involved a couple who were married fourteen years and divorced by agreement in 2003.  The mother had primary physical custody of three children and the father paid monthly child support of $4,500.  Upon the oldest child moving in with the father, he unilaterally reduced his support by 1/3 without court approval.  The parties later reached an agreement (2009) memorializing a change in support to $3,400.  The agreement was filed but not approved by the court due to procedural issues.

        In 2011, a second child moved in with father and he filed a Complaint for Modification seeking to reduce his support and force the mother to contribute to college education expenses.  The mother filed a Complaint for Contempt seeking retroactive repayment of the child support that was underpaid on the original separation agreement.

        The trial judge acknowledged that she could not retroactively enforce the 2009 agreement, but she did give an equitable credit to the father for the fact that the older son had been living with him for a period of time.  The mother challenged the equitable credit among other decisions of the trial judge.  The Appeals Court reviewed in depth the standards used in other jurisdictions for creating exceptions to the limitation on retroactive changes, but decided to create their own very specific exception.  In order to avoid confusion or abuse of any exception created, the Appeals Court in Rosen "favor[ed] a clearly delineated standard that relies on objectively verifiable facts in order to allow an equitable credit."

        The Appeals Court set out the following requirements for an equitable credit to be received against a child support arrearage:

        The payor must demonstrate the following to receive an equitable credit:

        1. the support recipient agreed (a) to transfer custody of the child to the payor for an extended period of time not contemplated in the original custody order,  and (b) to accept the payor's direct support of the child as an alternative method of satisfying the payor's child support obligation; 
        2. the custody transfer was not the result of duress, coercion, or undue influence exerted by the payor against either the recipient or the child; 
        3. the payor provided the child with adequate support and maintenance while the child was principally domiciled in the payor's home; 
        4. the recipient was relieved of supporting the child during the period in question; 
        5. the alternative support arrangement was not contrary to the child's best interests; and 
        6. granting a credit to the payor for his or her direct support of the child would not result in injustice or undue hardship to the recipient. - Rosen v. Rosen (2016)
        Applying these narrow principles in the Rosen case, the Appeals Court concluded that the trial judge was justified in finding that this case presented "compelling circumstances of an equitable nature" and affirmed the trial judge's award of an equitable credit to the father.  The court also dealt with the standard for a finding of Contempt, corrected calculation errors as to the arrearage amount, and affirmed a college education contribution award against the mother.  

        There are two takeaways from the Rosen case on the primary discussion regarding retroactive credits:
        1. There is now a very clear test for determining whether a retroactive change in child support prior to the service of a Modification Complaint is appropriate, and it is a very narrow test.  In other words, child support is almost never retroactively modifiable prior to the date of service of the Complaint of Modification.
        2. If two parents reach an agreement for modifying support, even in writing, it has to be approved by the court or it will not be enforceable.  



        Wednesday, November 23, 2016

        Post-Divorce Lessons from the Massachusetts Appeals Court: Fehrm-Cappucino v. Cappucino

        Even after a divorce the conflict between couples sometimes continues due to an ongoing support order or co-parenting relationship.  If spouses don't settle on an agreed upon process for addressing future changes, these disagreements can often lead to additional court cases.

        In the case of Fehrm-Cappucino v. Cappucino, a 2016 Massachusetts Appeals Court case, the parties took a modification and contempt action to trial and appeal, resulting in a remand of both cases back to the trial court for new findings.  In Fehrm-Cappucino, the father sought a reduction in his child support in a modification, and the mother sought a finding of contempt against the father for non-payment of a lump sum owed under their agreement.

        Here is what we can learn from the Fehrm-Cappucino decision:

        1.  Rental Income Is Includible for Child Support Calculations

        The trial Judge excluded rental income each parent had from properties they had an interest in.  The trial Judge excluded the father's rental income because the underlying property was divided in the divorce.  However, the Appeals Court didn't agree that the division of the asset in divorce resulted in a waiver of the income's inclusion in the child support calculation.  This is not a double-dip because income from the asset and the underlying principal value are different, and there is no exclusion in the child support income list for assets divided during the marriage (as there is in the alimony statute).  This issue was therefore remanded to the trial court.

        2.  Contribution from the Mother's Boyfriend to Rent Is Not Includible for Child Support Calculations

        The mother appealed the trial Judge's decision to attribute income to her based on contributions from her cohabiting boyfriend.  The appeals court indicated that the findings were insufficient because the trial judge should have made additional findings as defined in Murray v. Super, 87 Mass. App. Ct. at 155:
        "[a]dditional findings that would aid our analysis, includ[ing], but . . . not limited to, . . . the lack of an obligation of the mother's [boy friend] to support the children, the manner in which the mother's and the children's lifestyles are altered by these funds, the discretion that the mother's [boy friend] maintains in payment of these funds, and the manner in which the mother would support her household absent these funds." Murray v. Super, 87 Mass. App. Ct. at 155.
        This issue was therefore remanded to the trial court.

        3. Attribution of Income to the Mother was Not Sufficiently Supported

        The mother also appealed the trial Judge's decision to attribute income to her based on her own earning capacity.  According to the child support guidelines:
        "[t]he Court shall consider all relevant factors including without limitation the education, training, health, past employment history of the party, and the availability of employment at the attributed income level. The Court shall also consider the age, number, needs and care of the children covered by this order. If the Court makes a determination that either party is earning less than he or she could through reasonable effort, the Court should consider potential earning capacity rather than actual earnings in making its order."
        The trial judge found that the mother was capable of working thirty hours per week at her previous hourly rate of $25.  However, the trial Judge did not make specific findings as to the availability of employment at the attributed level and the Appeals Court therefore remanded this issue as well.

        4. It's Difficult to Prove a Negative

        The trial Judge also concluded that the father was not in contempt for failing to pay a $10,000 lump sum.  The Judge found there was a lack of direct evidence.  While the Appeals Court did indicate that the trial Judge is not required to accept the wife's testimony that the payment wasn't made, they noted that the trial Judge failed to list a rationale for ignoring her testimony without any opposing evidence or a finding of credibility.  Therefore the contempt adjudication was also remanded for further rationale or a different disposition.

        All of these Appeals Court rulings are helpful in approaching other post-divorce matters that might arise but it is an expensive lesson for these parties.  It is noteworthy that these parties spent a considerable amount of time fighting these post-divorce cases only to be returned to trial by the Appeals Court.  This is another example of a case where early intervention dispute resolution through mediation or other forms of conflict resolution could have resulted in a faster and more efficient result.


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