Michael W. Kleeman
Maureen O'Donoghue et al No. 133863
15, 2016, Filed
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER
J. CURRAN, Associate Justice.
case is the logical result of a well-intended, but
unfortunate, decision by a panel of the Massachusetts Appeals
husband and wife, long-since divorced (see Kleeman v.
Maureen O'Donoghue, Middlesex Superior Probate and
Family Court, MI-D1-10101-DR) are now embroiled in a
complaint for modification pending before that same court on
alleged changed circumstances. A regrettable by-product of
that pending action is yet another lawsuit, this time filed
in the Superior Court, in which the unhappy husband has filed
a complaint in which he now alleges a miscellany of torts:
intentional infliction of emotional distress, deceit,
harassment, and breach of privacy.
Court can only speculate the reasons behind such a legal
stratagem, none of which are flattering, and all of which
could have been avoided by the Appeals Court panel in
Kelso v. Kelso, 86 Mass.App.Ct. 226, 15 N.E.3d 767
(2014). That panel granted a disgruntled divorce litigant the
right to file yet another action in the Superior Court--also
alleging tort claims--on issues that could well have and
indeed, should have, been disposed of in the Probate Court.
words about the structure of the Courts is in order. The
Probate Court is a specialty Court, uniquely designed to hear
and process, inter alia, highly emotionally-charged
marital issues, child care and support issues. G.L.c. 215,
section 3; G.L.c. 208, section 6. The Kelso decision
now requires that Superior Court judges handle the supposed
" ancillary" issues that arise out of a divorce;
that decision was--and is--wrong on many
decision encourages judge-shopping; it continues the vitriol
between former marital partners who, instead of going on with
their lives, are now able to continue their emotional trauma
by employing yet another judicial forum in a second
Trial Court Department. This ought to be wrong as a matter of
law; it is wrong as a matter of public policy; and it is
wrong to provide yet another public platform for such parties
to display their venom, especially where a perfectly adequate
judicial forum already exists to handle such
emotionally-charged and security-issue prone cases.
Appeals Court panel has decided in an academic, but wholly
impractical, decision to enable divorced parties to continue
their vitriol. There can be little doubt that the costs of
such secondary litigation affects others particularly
innocent children who see family life savings set aside for
college tuitions and life events such as weddings squandered
by self-absorbed adults, blinded by emotion.
collateral damage is not just limited to the children. The
public, too, suffers. Cases that should be heard
expeditiously in the Superior Court are subject to further
delay; motion hearings are further backlogged;  and caseloads
needlessly increase. This Court is already strained by its
caseload and diminished support resources.
demonstrate the folly of added disgruntled and/or losing
Probate Court litigants to the Superior Court roster of
cases, we need only examine the caseload of this one civil
session, which presently has 614 other active cases.
second by-product is to encourage judge-shopping. It is
likely that in every divorce proceeding at least one, and
possibly both, parties are unhappy with the outcome.
Squandering limited judicial resources--both finite judge as
well as precious courtroom time--to indulge the continuation
of divorce acrimony--simply makes no sense.
divorce cases do not see the present " tort" claims
that are alleged in this case: deceit is a staple of any
divorce action; hard feelings, cast legally in this Court now
as the " intentional infliction of emotional
distress" is another one; and harassment is hardly a
virginal charge in the Probate Courts. No, these allegations
are best heard in the Probate Court.
Complaint for Modification is presently pending before the
Probate Court. It would waste limited judicial resources ...