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Barnes v. Devlin (Lawyers Weekly No. 11-102-13)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.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       12‑P‑1283                                       Appeals Court   CAROL BARNES  vs.  JAMES A. DEVLIN.     No. 12‑P‑1283. Middlesex.     May 1, 2013.  ‑  August 16, 2013. Present:  Berry, Katzmann, & Rubin, JJ.   Divorce and Separation, Child support, Separation agreement, Modification of judgment, Postminority support to third party.  Parent and Child, Child support.  Contempt.  Practice, Civil, Contempt, Stipulation.       Complaint for divorce filed in the Middlesex Division of the Probate and Family Court Department on July 28, 1998.   A complaint for contempt, filed on March 4, 2011, was heard by Spencer M. Kagan, J.     David F. Bernardin for the father.     KATZMANN, J.  The central issue posed by this appeal is the interface of bargained-for stipulations and agreements incorporated into court judgments, with the restrictions of G. L. c. 208, § 28 (which conditions postminority support and education upon a child’s being domiciled in the home of a parent and principally dependent upon that parent for maintenance).  James A. Devlin (father) appeals from a judgment entered by a Probate and Family Court judge on a complaint of contempt filed by Carol Barnes (mother).  The mother alleged that the father failed to pay child support and education expenses as required by a court-approved separation agreement (as modified) that was mutually agreed to by the parties upon their divorce, and subsequently incorporated and merged into a judgment of divorce nisi.  After a one-day trial, the judge found the father in civil contempt and ordered him to pay $ 9,200 to the mother in child support arrears and $ 6,448 per year toward the parties’ son’s education expenses.  We affirm. Background.  The parties have one child, who was born in 1991.  On June 14, 2000, the parties entered into and filed a separation agreement; that same day, a judgment of divorce nisi entered pursuant to G. L. c. 208, § 1B.  Pursuant to the separation agreement, the parties agreed that they would share legal custody of their son and that the mother would have sole physical custody.  The parties also agreed to share their son’s post-high school education expenses, consistent with the financial abilities and resources available to each party.  Finally, the separation agreement required the father to pay the mother $ 140 per week in child support “until emancipation” of their son.  The separation agreement provided a list of conditions that would result in the […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - August 16, 2013 at 11:22 pm

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