Can you appeal a divorce decree in Massachusetts?

Whether you’re a regular reader of our blog or a first time visitor, chances are you are aware of the fact that Massachusetts divides property in a divorce according to the equitable distribution rule. Despite what is suggested by its title, equitable distribution doesn’t mean a 50/50 cut of marital property. In fact, there are a lot of things that are taken into consideration, which means one spouse could end up getting “more” in the divorce and yet still have the distribution be considered fair in the eyes of the court.

The problem many here in Massachusetts see with the equitable distribution rule is that is can leave the “losing” spouse feeling disappointed in the final judgment. This might lead them to believe that justice has not been served. In situations such as this, anyone without the right legal background could be left with a large number of questions, which might lead them to the question we’re putting forth in today’s post title: can you appeal a divorce decree in Massachusetts?

The answer is yes, but it depends on the circumstances of the case. For those who don’t know, appeals of family court decisions here in Massachusetts are governed by G.L. c. 215, §§ 9-24, which gives the plaintiff a chance to have the courts reconsider a judgment, resulting in either an affirmation, modification or a reversal of the judgment.

It’s very important for today’s readers to note though that while they may have the right to appeal a divorce decree, appeals also need a valid reason, not simply because you don’t like the outcome of a settlement. The time window in which to file an appeal is also rather small. But above all, the application of the law differs depending on the elements of the case, which means it may be difficult for someone without a legal background to effectively argue their case on their own.

It’s because of these reasons and more that obtaining legal counsel is considered a good idea, especially if they have experience with family law issues and how to resolve them successfully.

Source:, “Chapter 18, Appellate Issues,” 2008, Accessed June 8, 2015