At least they aren't throwing food at each other, or publicly calling each other names, as the current U.S. Supreme Court is wont to do. In our last blog entry, we discussed the interesting turn in this appeal, from a minority of 1, to a majority of 3 justices, in search of consensus of all Massachusetts Appeals Court, taking this important case away from the judges who heard it, in favor of a majority of the overall bench.
But, the reconstituted majority opinion doesn’t even agree with itself. Here’s why.
Almost casually, the prevailing opinion concluded that:
This, despite the fact that the husband is part of a beneficiary class that is open to expansion, and that the trust (no matter how indifferently administered in the past) provides no apparent means by which the husband could compel distributions to pay out the required sums to the wife.
But having concluded and implicitly ruled that the husband could make the required payments…
The court then proceeded to vacate the trial court’s judgment of contempt, in which she found the husband guilty, after he stopped paying the monthly sum to the wife. The reason: that he did not have the ability to pay because the trustees had declined to distribute the funds.
Thus, in the same decision, the Appeals Court ruled that:
At least, the trial court had the courage of its conviction.
So, what does this opinion do for Mrs. Pfannenstiehl, as a practical matter? We’ll tackle that in our next entry.