After more than seven years of litigation, the Rhode Island Supreme Court
handed down a landmark decision on an appeal of a Family Court divorce
decision. On June 25, the Supreme Court overturned a trial judge's
divorce ruling which awarded a wife a 25% interest in a husband's
business (Microfibres) valued at between $106 million and $126 million
finding that the lower court erred in 1) not arriving at a specific valuation
of the business and 2) awarding an unliquidated minority interest to wife.
At the divorce trial each spouse presented expert business valuation testimony
and the judge also retained the services of an appraiser. Nonetheless,
he failed to arrive at a specific valuation figure, which the Supreme
Court criticized as "an abuse of discretion." Additionally,
the court upheld the trial judge's rulings denying the wife attorneys
fees, reimubursement for expert expenses and her request to obtain copies
of his will, trust and other estate-planning documents.