State/Prov.  : Massachusetts

Case name    : Ventrice v. Ventrice

Case #          : No. 13–P–1992

Court             : Massachusetts Appeals Court

Reviewed by : Laura W. Morgan

Main issue     : Divorce Procedure

Probate and Family Court’s divorce judgment, requiring the parties to engage in out-of-court mediation, at their own expense, before either could file a subsequent action in the Probate and Family Court, violated free access to courts provision in the Declaration of Rights; preventing the parties from bringing a subsequent action until they had borne the costs of mediation was an unconstitutional burden, precondition could discourage or even prevent one of the parties from seeking to modify divorce judgment if material change in circumstances or best interests of the children so required, and, because the Probate and Family Court had exclusive jurisdiction, parties would have no alternative forum in which to pursue claim.

Laura W. Morgan is the owner and operator at Family Law Consulting in Charlottesville, Virginia.Laura is available for consultation, brief writing and research on family law issues throughout the country. She can be reached through her website.