Caselaw

Caselaw consists of past cases that have been decided by an appellate level court. In Massachusetts, the state appellate level courts are the Massachusetts Appeals Court and the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. After the trial judge makes a decision (enters a judgment) in your case, each party has the right to appeal to an appellate court. It's important to remember that an appeal because you disagree with the trial judge will not be successful. Appeals are successful when the trial judge makes an error of law. For example, if your trial judge applied the wrong law, or applied the law incorrectly, that might give rise to an appealable issue.

Appeals are expensive, and are usually unsuccessful. Your lawyer can advise you about whether an appeal makes sense in your case.

After an appellate court considers a case, it issues a written decision, also called an opinion. These opinions have value as precedent, and guide judges in the Probate and Family Court (and other trial courts in Massachusetts) as they apply the law in the cases which come before them.

We have included here many of the appellate decisions in the area of family law. There are thousands of cases which make up the accumulated caselaw in the field of family law. Of course we do not include all of them here; however, will try to include the more important decisions, and will continue to build this online library slowly over time for your use.

You may search for cases here either alphabetically by the name of the case, or by subject, the issues raised in the case. Many cases are appealed on multiple issues. In those cases, we will include them under all relevant subject headings.