MARGOT E. FROST-STUART
CHARLES F. STUART.
Heard: April 15, 2016.
for divorce filed in the Middlesex Division of the Probate
and Family Court Department on March 4, 2010.
complaint for modification and complaints for contempt were
heard by George F. Phelan, J., and a motion for
reconsideration was considered by him.
L. Petrakis (Karen W. Stuntz with her) for the mother.
Alexander D. Jones for the father.
Present: Cypher, Agnes, & Massing, JJ.
E. Frost-Stuart (mother) appeals from a modification
judgment, as amended, of the Probate and Family Court
terminating alimony and increasing child support paid by her
former husband, Charles F. Stuart (father), and also
disposing of several complaints for contempt. We affirm in
part and vacate in part.
fifteen years of marriage, the parties divorced in July,
2010, pursuant to a judgment of divorce nisi. The separation
agreement (agreement), which was incorporated into the
judgment, required the father to pay to the mother a minimum
amount of $63, 000 each year as alimony and $4, 750 each
month as child support. The agreement further provided that
the father's "support obligation may be reviewed and
adjusted upon a change in circumstances, including but not
limited to . . . his loss or change of employment, [or] the
[mother's] cohabitation with a dating partner."
parties share legal custody of their three children, aged
ten, seven, and four years at the time of the modification
judgment. The father remarried and has two children with his
new wife. The mother has cohabited with her boy friend since
September, 2010. The father has been employed as a portfolio
manager at two successive investment management companies,
and the mother has been out of the workforce for many years.
March, 2013, the father filed a complaint for modification,
primarily seeking termination of alimony on the basis that
the mother had been cohabitating with a dating partner for
more than three months, and that the father had a new job
with fee-based income and no longer received an annual bonus.
The mother counterclaimed, requesting that the father's
child support payments be increased if alimony payments are
reduced or terminated. Between May 24, 2013, and February 14,
2014, the parties filed seven complaints for contempt -- six
filed by the mother against the father and one filed by the
father against the mother. In a decision dated April 29,
2014, after trial on the consolidated complaints and
counterclaims, a judge of the Probate and Family Court
terminated the father's alimony obligation and increased
his child support payments from $4, 750 to $5, 529 per month.
Thereafter, the judge ruled on a motion for relief from
judgment based on clerical errors, filed by the mother. In a
margin notation, the judge effectively amended the
modification judgment to reflect that the father did not make
alimony payments of $49, 975 in 2013 and that the father owes
the mother an additional $33, 000 in the form of retirement
assets. The judge did not write further
findings of fact or conclusions of law, nor did he order the
entry of a corrected or amended judgment. This appeal
terminating alimony, the judge expressly relied on the
Alimony Reform Act, G. L. c. 208, §§ 48-55 (act),
citing the mother's cohabitation. In January, 2015,
the Supreme Judicial Court held that the act's
cohabitation provision applies only prospectively to support
obligations established after the act's effective date of
March 1, 2012. Chinv. ...