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


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