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Ketterle v. Ketterle

Massachusetts Appeals Court
814 N.E.2d 385 (2004)


Gabriele Ketterle (plaintiff) and Wolfgang Ketterle (defendant) were married. Gabriele was a part-time teacher’s aide. Gabriele had limited English-language skills and mental-health issues. Wolfgang was in good health and was a tenured professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Wolfgang earned almost $200,000 per year and won the 2001 Nobel Prize for Physics. Gabriele filed for divorce. The trial court determined that, given Wolfgang’s tenured status and recent Nobel Prize, Wolfgang had substantial capacity for acquiring future income, particularly when compared to Gabriele’s ability to obtain future income. Because of this significant disparity, the trial court placed more weight on the Ketterles’ relative abilities to obtain future income than on other statutory categories under the relevant distribution statute. This resulted in the court distributing 62 percent of the marital assets to Gabriele. Wolfgang appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Kafker, J.)

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