Divorce Mediation Blog

“Non-compete” Orders in Massachusetts Divorce: Yes they can!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

In recent case of Cesar v. Sundelin, the Massachusetts Appeals Court ruled that a Probate & Family Court judge has the power to order one spouse not to compete with the other spouse after a division of property that includes a business. This is new law here, though it had been addressed by a couple of other jurisdictions earlier.

The argument is: if a judge is going to force one person to buy out the interest of the other in a private business, what is the business owner buying if the other spouse can walk across the street (figuratively or literally), set up shop and compete for the same customers? The counter argument is: if the spouse who is being bought out made a living doing the same or similar work, how can that spouse be prevented from making a living, or without being compensated for the loss of an ability to make one?

This ruling is important for at least three reasons. First, it broadens the powers of Probate & Family Court judges to do something that at least one judge thought he could not do (in Cesar the trial judge had refused to enter a non-compete because he thought he lacked that power – and one suspects that others agreed); and it raises questions about how this should factor in to valuation questions, and with regard to alimony based on the “needs” of the spouse who is restrained from competing. Arguably, this issue is limited to cases in which the spouse shared a business activity, but that makes the alimony question more acute.

Should judges have this breadth of power in divorce cases? The Appeals Court thought so, when it is necessary to protect the integrity of the property division order. We will all see how this plays out, over time.

Get e-mail notifications of new blog posts! Enter email address below.:

Delivered by FeedBurner

other articles

recent posts


Divorce litigation fraud family and probate law disputes Levine Dispute Resolutions mediations annulment mediation lawyer-attended mediation Levine Dispute Resolution Center Levine Dispute Resolution how baseball arbitration works lawyers traditional negotiations General term alimony Massachusetts Alimony Reform Act high-risk methodology divorce mediator health coverage special master family law private dispute resolution separation divorce and family law mediators Massachusetts MLB labor agreement Boston divorce litigation Cohabitation IRC §2704 Act Reforming Alimony in the Commonwealth divorce lawyers divorce judgment Family Law Arbitration Defense of Marriage Act dispute resolution Baseball Arbitration Divorce Agreements med-arb arbitrators divorce mediations Baseball mediator Massachusetts lawyers pre-ARA alimony divorce mediation Massachusetts divorce mediators resolve disputes divorce arbitrator arbitrator divorce mediators SJC alimony reform legislation divorce and family law family law arbitrators Uniform Arbitration Act family support Massachusetts alimony and child support mediators rehabilitative alimony health insurance divorce process family law mediation family law arbitrator Chouteau Levine self-adjusting alimony Child Support Guidelines Obamacare Massachusetts alimony divorce arbitrators support orders Levine Dispute Resolution Center LLC divorce arbitration med/arb lawyer alimony COLA Self-adjusting alimony orders disputes child support medical benefits Major League Baseball Arbitration divorced alimony law arbitration The Seven Sins of Alimony alimony statute family mediation Alimony Reform Act Matrimonial Arbitration conciliation alimony orders LDRC Massachusetts divorce lawyers DOMA Baseball Players facilitated negotiations Same Sex Marriage Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly divorce agreement