Does the bad economy make for strange bedfellows?

Hi there,

I have been saving articles on how bad economic times cause folks to stay together since last fall. These pieces have been really prevalent and I had been wondering what it was that made my practice and the domestic relations practice in general at Burns & Levinson different.  We have been extraordinarily busy since January.  I had come to the conclusion that because most of our cases are high end divorces the bad economy was causing more of my clients to move forward rather than wait.  This was confirmed by an article in the American Bar Association Journal.

I think the reality for the decrease in some divorce practices is more complex than simply a result of the recession.  If you look at this post from the Freaknomics blog it is clear that divorce is decreasing not as a result of economic change, but just as a general demographic reality.

I would love to think that this is because people are becoming wiser or kinder, and that may be true, or more likely the young middle aged generation now is the first generation to grow up that were children of divorce, and children of divorce understand firsthand what divorce means.




  1. I am interested in the situration where after a divorce, assets having been split and support determined, the ex-spouse(in this case an ex-husband from a 35 year marriage)who had a lucrative career and after only 4years of alimony is now working part time at a severely reduced income and intends to pay support on only that reduced amount. What are the chances of the court
    attributing income and thus enforcing a higher level of alimony? What are the pertinent arguments for this?
    I recently read an article in Boston Magazine (7/2009) concerning Ma. alimony law which in my opinion was a very poor and biased journalistic discussion about ongoing alimony obligations for divorced men. I would love to hear your thoughts on the article and/or the issue.
    Thank your for sharing your expertise with a very interested public.
    Carolyn Arrington

  2. Dear Caroline,
    I do not have enough information to give you advice or even an informed opinion on your circumstances, but my off the cuff thoughts are as follows: Is this a voluntary or involuntary change in circumstances? How old is he? Judges do not retire until they are 70, so they can possibly view someone seeking to retire earlier as slacking. How he is currently making his ends meet? Is someone else supporting him? Then, I would focus on your needs and most importantly that he apparently had the obligation to support you prior to the change in circumstances?
    The list of questions can go on and on. I shared your frustration to a degree with the article on alimony, as I feel that this is an area where there are deep fairness issues on both sides of the stream, and instead of a hard and fast rule maybe the judges should have the discretion to make decisions based on the facts of the cases. I am still thinking through what I actually want to say and expect to do a post in more detail on that topic soon. In the meantime go see a good attorney and find out what your rights are.

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