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Rhode Island Supreme Court Overturns Family Court Divorce Ruling

The Rhode Island Supreme Court recently overturned a post divorce ruling by Judge Laureen D'Ambra in Carny v. Carney. The dispute between the two divorced spouses centered on the interpretation of a marital settlement agreement which called for the distribution of marital assets upon the sale of the former marital domicile. The parties disagreed about the trigger date for distribution. The Family Court trial judge found that the marital settlement agreement was ambiguous and "apparently assumed that it was the intent of the parties that their children remain in the marital domicile until 2024." On appeal, the Supreme Court agreed that the provision was "susceptible to two reasonable meanings" but held that the trial judge "did not make sufficient factual findings on the record with respect to the intent of the parties" and instead merely "assumed" without proper evidence what the parties intent was when entering the agreement. Accordingly, the court remanded the case for further testimony and evidentiary determination of "the intent of the parties at the time they entered into the agreement.
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