Divorce Mediation Blog

Can’t Blame a Guy for Trying, But the Courts Do their Job in Dilanian v. Dilanian

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Levine Dispute Resolution - Alimony

The recent decision, Dilanian v. Dilanian, from the Massachusetts Appeals Court describes a litany of unreliable evidence from which a trial judge drew negative inferences about the malfeasance of a divorce-litigant husband, finding that he tried to obscure and shelter both assets and income from his wife and from the court. The Appeals Court agreed with the Probate and Family Court judge, and upheld her decision.

The self-employed husband depressed his apparent income after the divorce filing, by decreasing his profit distributions and increasing his retained, undistributed earnings, without legitimate explanation. You can’t do that!

On a defined contribution plan, the sole- business-owner husband presented documents with the number of retirement plan participants yo-yoing periodically, attempting to reduce his share of the pension pool, for equitable division with his wife. Can’t do that either.

By post-trial motion, the executor-trustee-beneficiary husband tried to take back his inaccurate trial testimony in which he overstated his rights in his father’s estate, which the court had accepted, and later sourced to the husband’s own inexcusable neglect. That doesn’t work.

But the howler in the bunch, of which the Appeals Court made but passing note, the pension plan-administrator husband tried to dilute his share of a defined benefit pension plan by including his late father as a member of the plan, thus trying to divert a chunk of the pension from the court’s equitable division powers.

Only problem was that the plan documents that the husband himself offered in evidence showed that his father was no longer alive when the plan was created.

None of this is particularly surprising in the Probate & Family Court, where Stephen Colbert’s notion of “truthiness” has a long history. But, the audacity to lie in plain sight of a dated document that he himself put into evidence is, simply put, Trumpian.

To borrow a cliché from left wing TV, the “institutions held”: the trial judge sniffed out the ruse, and the appellate court backed her up.

Good for them.

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