781.708.4445

wmlevine@levinedisputeresolution.com

Divorce Mediation Blog

What does Pisano v. Pisano mean? (And why was it “reported”?)

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

The recent case Pisano v. Pisano delivers less than its primary key word (premarital agreements) and name (the wife is the late John Belushi’s sister) might suggest. In fact, we wonder why the Massachusetts Appeals Court chose to make a "reported" decision, rather than a Rule 1:28 opinion (issued primarily for the parties, and not intended to be precedent). The case broke no new ground; it did not illumine any previously uncertain rule of law; and, in the end, we are not really sure of the court's reason for reversing. We may not always agree with the appellate courts’ reasoning, but we usually know what it is. Here? Not so sure.

The Appeals Court upheld the discretionary allocation of responsibility for a debt to the wife; and vacated an order for reimbursement of temporary alimony payments made by the wife to the husband, which the trial court had entered after concluding that alimony was precluded by a valid and enforceable pre-marital agreement. Without explanation, the appellate court rejected the "unjust enrichment" remedy that a special master and Probate and Family Court judge concurred should apply.

The alimony ruling was three-pronged. It cited the SJC's Holmes v. Holmes, presumably (because it was not stated) to establish that temporary alimony order authority stands apart, statutorily, from judgments made after trial. Second, the pre-nuptial agreement didn't explicitly mention temporary alimony. And, third, the court reported that the wife did not insist that the pre-nuptial agreement barred the temporary alimony order before its entry, but rather, she proposed a lesser sum than the husband sought. Thus, the court implied but did not expressly say that she gave up her right to complain later about the $32,000.00 of payments that she made, from sources that a master and two courts all agreed were derived from a validly prohibited source. v So, which factor killed the wife's alimony reimbursement claim: Holmes, the agreement or maybe-imputed waiver? If the case is intended as precedent, should we be left to wonder? Ironically, given our recent blog about Rule 1:28 decisions, maybe this case should be among them.



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



Delivered by FeedBurner

other articles


recent posts


tags

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