Success Stories

Probate & Family Court Judge Decision of a Parent Coordinator Challenged

On May 8, 2014, I had the privilege of presenting an oral argument at the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts in the case of Bower v. Bournay-Bower. I represented the Father, William Bower. The issue before the Court was whether a Probate & Family Court Judge had the authority to appoint a parent coordinator where both parties did not agree to the appointment.

The decision has not yet been decided, but the case will have significant impact in many cases in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. If you are interested, oral argument of the case can be found at www.suffolk.edu/sjc/archive.

What Happened in Bower v. Bournay-Bower?

In Bower v. Bournay-Bower, the parties were involved in high conflict litigation for several years. When their divorce was finalized, the parties filed cross complaints for contempt. Father was frustrated because Mother was not abiding by the joint legal custody order. Father requested the court to appoint a parent coordinator with binding authority to assist the parties resolve their ongoing disputes relating to the children. The Mother was opposed to a parent coordinator. The Probate and Family Court Judge granted Father's request. The Judge explained that by the time the complaints for contempt were in front of her, the time-sensitive nature of the issues raised in the complaints had made it such that she had no ability to offer either aggrieved party any relief.

The Father agreed with the appointment of a parent coordinator and Mother appealed.
A final decision is still pending, but we will soon see a significant change regarding whether or not a Probate and Family Court has the authority to appoint parent coordinators in high conflict divorce and post- divorce cases.
If you have questions about the use and appointment of parent coordinators, call the Law Offices of Lisa A. Ruggieri at 781-239-8984.