alimony reform 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

The Appeals Court decision in DeMarco v. DeMarco reminds us that a deal is a deal, even when it’s entered into based upon advice from a trial judge who misinterprets the law.

In this case, the husband and wife were divorced in May 2010. At that time they signed a separation agreement calling for the husband to pay alimony to his wife of until the death of either party, the wife’s remarriage, or such time as the husband had no gross earned income after reaching age 68. After the Alimony Reform Act was passed into law in 2012, the husband filed a complaint for modification seeking to terminate his alimony obligation based upon his having reached full retirement age.… Keep reading

gavelThe latest in a series of cases interpreting and clarifying the Alimony Reform Act of 2011 has just been decided. Duff-Kareores vs. Kareores was decided by the Supreme Judicial Court on June 15, 2016.

What’s the Story?

The parties were married in 1995, had two children and divorced in 2004. They then lived separately, complying with their divorce agreement, until they began living together as a family again in 2007. They remarried in December 2012. Alas, things didn’t work out as planned, and the wife filed for a second divorce in June of 2013.

The Alimony Decision

The trial judge held that the length of their marriage, for the purpose of determining the alimony term under the Alimony Reform Act, ran from the date of their first marriage till the service of the second divorce. This included the period when they were living separately, under the terms of a divorce agreement, in the calculation of time that alimony in the new divorce would last. Not surprisingly, this was appealed.… Keep reading

Hi there,

I hope you are enjoying our belated summer weather as much as I have been.  I missed posting last week because I couldn’t drag myself out of my garden to sit at the computer.

It looks like alimony reform is almost here!

The next legislative steps appear pretty certain and those in the know (not me) seem to be anticipating passage in the current legislative session, which ends with June.  The bill was due to be debated today, it is already out of the judiciary committee, but debate on the floor was delayed due to efforts to help the folks in Springfield.

The act makes a lengthy and complex change in the law, which will trigger a lot of modification cases.  It will also cause a lot of unexpected litigation, as payors attempt to prove their exes are cohabiting.

I think that an unanticipated side effect will be a surge in divorce filings, as the bill contains drop dead times when filing for divorce later rather than sooner, will result in paying alimony longer.

But there is a law of unintended consequences.  Any time the legislature or the courts change the way families are dissolved there are … Keep reading