In The News

News - 2019

Sep. 2019

Rich Novitch quoted in news article on SJC case concerning how courts should handle allegations of domestic abuse in custody disputes

Richard M. Novitch was quoted in a news article concerning a case before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court that could alter how family court judges deal with allegations of domestic violence in child custody matters.

The case involves whether a family court judge should take into account allegations of domestic violence in a custody battle subsequent to the closing of a divorce case.  In the underlying matter, the parents were divorced in 2015 and they agreed to share physical and legal custody of their minor daughter.

The father later sought full custody, even though he admitted in court that he had abused his ex-wife during their marriage, at least twice in front of their child.  But the family court judge presiding over the custody dispute refused to consider the abuse allegations because it happened before the divorce, and ultimately awarded the father legal custody.

The case is on appeal before the SJC, and a key issue is whether the court will rule that a family court judge must consider evidence of domestic violence in evaluating later custody matters, regardless of whether the domestic abuse allegations were raised at the time of the divorce proceeding.

Mr. Novitch told the Republican/MassLive that judges are "all over the map" on this issue.

"What would be helpful for the SJC would be to provide guidance to all trial court judges to do the same thing so there's more consistency in application on matters as important as spousal abuse," he told the publication.

Mr. Novitch, who filed an amicus brief in the case on behalf of the mother, represents clients in all aspects of domestic relations law.  He has extensive experience handling complex cases and issues on appeal, including matters before the SJC and Massachusetts Appeals Court.