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NISSENBAUM’S STANDARD SET OF

 SUMMARIES OF LAW - DIVORCE

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XIV. Interest is Mandatory on Awards of Money in Judgment of Divorce.

14.1 By statute, "[e]very judgment for the payment of money shall bear interest from the day of its entry." G. L. c. 235, 8, as appearing in St. 1983, c. 652, 2. Osborne v. Biotti 404 Mass. 112, 113-114 (1989), cited with approval in Karellas v. Karellas, 54 Mass. App. Ct. 469 (2002).

14.2 A judgment is the act of the trial court finally adjudicating the rights of the parties including a decision by the court that a party shall recover a sum certain. Osborne v. Biotti, 404 Mass. 112, 113-114 (1989).

14.3 General Laws c. 235, 8, is applicable to equitable relief expressed in terms of an order for the payment of money. Karellas v. Karellas, 54 Mass. App. Ct. 469 (2002).

14.4 "[A]n equity decree for the payment of money is a judgment made upon a finding of a judge and thus bears interest from the date of the judgment or award to the date the judgment is satisfied." Johnson v. Hazen, 333 Mass. 636, 638 (1956). See Hobbs v. Cunningham, 273 Mass. 529, 536 (1930); Boyer v. Bowles, 316 Mass. 90, 95 (1944); New England Factors, Inc. v. Genstil, 322 Mass. 36, 46 (1947).

14.5 The court in Osborne referred to the language of Mass.R.Civ.P. 54(a), 365 Mass. 820 (1974), in its interpretation of the statute. The language in Mass.R.Dom.Rel.P. 54(a) is identical. Karellas v. Karellas, 54 Mass. App. Ct. 469 (2002).

14.6 Mass.R.Civ.P. 54 (f): "(f) Interest. Every judgment for the payment of money shall bear interest up to the date of payment of said judgment. . . . Unless otherwise ordered by the court, interest from the date of entry of a judgment to the date of execution or order directing the payment of said judgment shall also be computed by the clerk, and the amount of such interest shall be stated on the execution or order."

14.7 Rule 54 (f) was added to clarify the problem identified in Stokosa v. Waltuch, 378 Mass. 617, 620 (1979), as to the duty of the clerk to compute both prejudgment and postjudgment interest. Trinity Church in Boston v. John Hancock Mut. Life Ins Co., 405 Mass. 682, 684-685 (1989).

14.8 Rule 54(f) merely clarifies the duties of the clerk and does not establish the substantive rights of a party to interest on a judgment. See Stokosa v. Waltuch, 378 Mass. 617, 618 (1979), cited with approval in Karellas v. Karellas, 54 Mass. App. Ct. 469 (2002).

14.9 Where the award is announced as a certain monetary sum, G. L. c. 235, 8, acts to provide interest over any period of delayed payment. To hold otherwise would ignore clear legislative intent in enacting that statute and fly in the face of strong public policy supporting the inclusion of interest on monetary judgments. Karellas v. Karellas, 54 Mass. App. Ct. 469 (2002) (order to pay $100,000 in or within 90 days bears interest from the date of the judgment.)

14.10 If the judgment calls for a payment of money, under the plain terms of the statute, the judgment bore interest from the date of its entry. Karellas v. Karellas, 54 Mass. App. Ct. 469 (2002).

14.11 The fact that defendant was permitted to pay in or within 90 days does not affect interest but only whether he could be held in contempt. Karellas v. Karellas, 54 Mass. App. Ct. 469 (2002).

14.12 Although interest is available upon a finding of contempt, it is not a substitute for statutory interest upon a money judgment under G. L. c. 235, 8. Karellas v. Karellas, 54 Mass. App. Ct. 469 (2002).

14.13 Under G. L. c. 235, 8, the rate of interest is computed using the same rate as provided for prejudgment interest. Karellas v. Karellas, 54 Mass. App. Ct. 469 (2002).

14.14 Where there is no statutory prejudgment rate of interest, the 6% standard statutory rate found in G. L. c. 107, 3, applies. See Sharpe v. Springfield Bus Terminal Corp., 406 Mass. 62, 65 (1989); , 22 Mass. App. Ct. 982, 984 (1986).

14.15 Under G. L. c. 235, 8, the rate of interest is computed using the same rate as provided for prejudgment interest.

14.16 Where there is no statutory prejudgment rate of interest, the 6% standard statutory rate found in G. L. c. 107, 3, applies. See Sharpe v. Springfield Bus Terminal Corp., 406 Mass. 62, 65 (1989); Robbins v. Robbins, 22 Mass. App. Ct. 982, 984 (1986), cited with approval in Karellas v. Karellas, 54 Mass. App. Ct. 469 (2002).

14.17 That an order is meant to effect an equitable division does not undermine the character of the judgment as one for the payment of money. Karellas v. Karellas, 54 Mass. App. Ct. 469 (2002).

14.18 The inclusion within the judgment of other orders not requiring the payment of money does not change this result. Karellas v. Karellas, 54 Mass. App. Ct. 469 (2002).

14.19 The fact that the judgment also provided security for the payment of the money does not deprive plaintiff of the statutory right to interest on that portion of the judgment that was an order for the payment of a fixed sum in recognition of an equitable division of the marital estate. Karellas v. Karellas, 54 Mass. App. Ct. 469 (2002).

14.20 There is no consequence to the failure of the judge to include mention of interest in the original judgment nisi. The addition of post-judgment interest is an automatic ministerial task and a judge need not expressly allow it. Osborne v. Biotti, 404 Mass. 112, 117 (1989), cited with approval in Karellas v. Karellas, 54 Mass. App. Ct. 469 (2002).

Interest on Order of Attorneys Fees.

14.21 The ordering of interest on an award of counsel fees was upheld as proper in Robbins v. Robbins, 22 Mass. App. Ct. at 984. Compare Patry v. Liberty Mobilhome Sales, Inc., 394 Mass. 270, 272 (1985) (no interest accrues on attorney's fees awarded under G. L. c. 93A).