According to the Appeals Court, it is unequivocally mean for an ex-husband to tell an ex-wife that her son wished she would die. A judgment (incorporating an agreement) prohibited interparty communications that were “negative or mean.” The Probate and Family Court found the ex-husband in contempt for sending a letter alleging that his ex-wife suffered from a “mental illness” and claiming that her son “wished [her] to die.” The ex-husband appealed, presumably on the grounds that his action did not rise to a “clear and undoubted disobedience” of the judgment. After all, what does “mean” mean anyway? Distinguishing the “mean” prohibition here from the “customary nondisparagement provision,” the Appeals Court affirmed, concluding that the ex-husband’s language was so clearly “mean” and “well outside the range of possible ambiguity,” that a contempt finding was appropriate. The lesson for mediators may be that the nondisparagement provisions the Appeals Court sought to distinguish here may not be as unenforceable as we might think. Fawzi v. Elaskalani, 2010 Mass. App. Unpub. LEXIS 602 (June 4, 2010) (Unpublished).
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