Posts tagged "1016214"

Bower v. Bournay-Bower (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-162-14)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.  If you find a typographical error or other formal error, please notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, 1 Pemberton Square, Suite 2500, Boston, MA, 02108-1750; (617) 557-1030; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us   SJC-11478   WILLIAM J. BOWER  vs.  MICHELLE A. BOURNAY-BOWER. Norfolk.     May 8, 2014. – September 15, 2014.   Present:  Spina, Cordy, Botsford, Gants, Duffly, & Lenk, JJ.     Divorce and Separation, Parent coordinator.  Constitutional Law, Judicial review, Delegation of powers.  Due Process of Law, Right to hearing, Delay in rendering decision.       Complaint for divorce filed in the Norfolk Division of the Probate and Family Court Department on March 25, 2009.   A complaint for contempt, filed on October 13, 2011, was heard by Christina L. Harms, J., and entry of judgment was ordered by Jennifer M.R. Ulwick, J.   The Supreme Judicial Court on its own initiative transferred the case from the Appeals Court.     Susan E. Stenger (Francine Gardikas with her) for Michelle A. Bournay-Bower. Lisa A. Ruggieri & Jocelyn A. Thomsen for William J. Bower. Kirsten V. Mayer, Nicole P. Cate, Sara Perkins Jones, Susan R. Elsen, & Julia E. Schlozman, for Massachusetts Law Reform Institute & others, amici curiae, submitted a brief.     SPINA, J.  This case raises an issue of first impression in the Commonwealth regarding the authority of a judge in a divorce or custody proceeding in the Probate and Family Court to appoint, over the objection of one of the parties, a “parent coordinator”[1] to assist parents in resolving conflicts that arise in implementing the custody and visitation provisions set forth in a final judgment of divorce.  Additionally, this case raises the issue whether a judge may grant binding decision-making authority to the parent coordinator, again without the consent of both parties, to resolve conflicts that arise between the parents regarding custody or visitation.[2]  We transferred this case from the Appeals Court on our own motion, and we conclude that the judge in this case exceeded the bounds of inherent judicial authority in appointing, without all parties’ approval, a parent coordinator with binding decision-making authority.  We further conclude that the breadth of authority vested in the parent coordinator constitutes an unlawful delegation of judicial authority.  Accordingly, we vacate the order.[3]      1.  Background.  a.  Facts.  The parties in this case, whom we shall call the mother and the father, are divorced parents of four minor children.  The initial complaint for divorce was filed in March, 2009.  After more than two years of litigation, a judgment of divorce nisi entered […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - September 15, 2014 at 8:52 pm

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