alimony in Massachusetts

durational limitsThe Supreme Judicial Court’s recent decision of George v. George provides guidance in applying the durational limits contained in the Alimony Reform Act.

The Alimony Reform Act, which went into effect in March 2012, provides that all alimony awards that predate the Act are deemed “general term alimony.” Under G.L. c. 208, §49(b), general term alimony awards end on a date certain based upon the length of the marriage, except upon a written finding by the court that deviation beyond the time limits is required “in the interests of justice.”  Many alimony  payors who file complaints to terminate alimony based on the durational limit are met with the defense that it is in the interests of justice for alimony to continue beyond the durational limits. In the November 28, 2016 decision of George v. George, the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) sets forth guidelines for how a judge of the Probate and Family Court should apply the “interests of justice” standard.… Keep reading

Hi there,

Earlier in 2016 our Private Client group happily welcomed Ann “Hether” Hetherwick Cahill as an associate. Hether’s practice focuses on probate and family court litigation, including will contests, removal claims, trust disputes, equity actions, guardianship and conservatorship proceedings, and family law. We’re pleased to feature some of her thoughts on the recent developments with the Alimony Reform Act!

Best
Nancy

 

There has been a new development in the recent challenge to the Alimony Reform Act. As a backdrop, the landmark Alimony Reform Act (M.G.L. c. 208, sections 48-55), which went into effect on March 1, 2012, changed alimony awards by:

  1. Creating durational limits for payments.
  2. Terminating alimony when a payor reaches retirement age.
  3. Suspending, reducing or terminating an alimony obligation when a payee cohabitates. The Act allows for deviation from these timeframes based upon the circumstances of the case.

On January 20, 2015, the Supreme Judicial Court issued decisions in three cases (Chin v. Merriot, Rodman v. Rodman, and Doktor v. Doktor) interpreting the Act’s language to hold that the retirement and cohabitation provisions apply only prospectively to judgments entered after March 1, 2012 (the date on which the Act became effective).… Keep reading

In March 2012, Massachusetts law on alimony was reformed and codified as General Laws Chapter 208, sections 48 – 55. A judicial hearing has been set for Monday, March 7, 2016 at 1 p.m. at the State House seeking further reform of the alimony statute.

The 2012 alimony reform provided for:

  • Durational limits.
  • Termination of alimony upon a payor reaching retirement age.
  • Reduction or termination of an alimony obligation when a recipient cohabitates.

In 2015, the Supreme Judicial Court issued decisions in three cases interpreting the alimony law and held that only the durational limits apply to alimony cases decided (or settled) before March 1, 2012, while the retirement provisions and cohabitation provisions do not.… Keep reading

Hi there,

As promised, here is an in-depth explanation of the new decisions from the Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”) on the Alimony Reform Act, by my talented and knowledgeable partner, Robin Lynch Nardone.

Robin Lynch Nardone Burns & Levinson Attorney
Robin Lynch Nardone, Partner at Burns & Levinson LLP

Best,
Nancy

On January 30, 2015, the SJC issued three decisions with significant impact on the right to seek modification of an alimony order issued prior to the enactment of Massachusetts’ Alimony Reform Act. The uncodified provisions of the alimony reform act are what the SJC has relied on in determining that only the durational limits on payment of alimony apply to alimony cases decided before March 1, 2012, while the retirement provisions and cohabitation provisions do not. Uncodified provisions of an act express the legislature’s view on some aspect of the act’s operation and are not the source of the substantive provisions of the law. Below are the details on the three cases.… Keep reading