alimony reform

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 usually take no position on pending legislation but the proposed changes to the alimony law will adversely affect thousands of pre-existing divorce agreements. If you can, please take the time to read this update and consider calling or writing your State Representative and Senator. There is a lot of well organized force on the other side.

Best,
Nancy

 

Boston Massachusetts State HouseAs an update to an earlier blog post, the recent challenge to the Alimony Reform Act continues to move through the legislature. Bill H4110 is currently pending before the full House of Representatives. On April 19, 2016, the House Committee of Steering, Policy and Scheduling reported Bill H4110 to the next sitting of the House for vote. That same day, the House completed a second reading of the Bill, ordering it to a third reading. This is standard procedure and means that the Bill is eligible for a vote by the full House at any time during the remainder of this legislative session. The last day for formal sessions of this legislative session is July 31, 2016, which is also the last day for recorded votes.… Keep reading

More Alimony Reform in Massachusetts?

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

spring dogwoods

Hi there,

spring dogwoodsWith the coming of spring comes a fresh interpretation of some relatively new legislation that has been closely watched by attorneys around Massachusetts. Any new law will require interpretation by the courts, going up through the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC), before lawyers are sure of how the ambiguities in any new law will be treated. The Alimony Reform Act is no exception. The law went into effect March of 2012, and the first appeal of a case has wound its way through the system. Through Holmes v. Holmes, we now have some clarity on what has been a common yet unclear issue. It is also noteworthy that the SJC took the case from the Appeals Court without waiting for them to decide. This is undoubtedly a reflection by the SJC on the significance of the issue.

Usually folks who will be receiving alimony after their divorce judgement also have been the recipients of temporary alimony. In a lot of cases divorces can take well over a year from first time in court for temporary orders until final agreement or judgement. The first occasion sets temporary alimony, and the second sets alimony under the categories laid … 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

Hi there,

Lately, I have been very bad about posting.  I spent the last two weeks in Florida with my grandchildren (and then recuperating from my grandchildren) and although I had lots of good resolutions about posting they seem to have gone the way of my good resolutions about not eating chocolate.

However, here I am back in the real world (glad to be here too!) and it looks like this may be the year that some sensible, real progress may get made in alimony reform.

Whether you are looking to receive, or fear you may have to pay alimony, the uncertainty and inconsistency of alimony awards must contribute to a lot of the fear of the unknown when facing divorce.

I am a proponent of alimony and also a proponent of alimony reform (go figure).  Anyone embarking on a divorce should be able to have a fairly reasonable understanding of what they may pay or receive, and for how long.  Right now that is not the case in Massachusetts.  A number of the proposed reforms have, I believe, been too draconian; however, there is due to be a new proposal out, apparently finding favor with all sides, so … Keep reading

Hi there,

As Massachusetts considers refining the law on alimony, the public commentary is huge.  It has made me think through exactly what I think about the current law and the proposed changes.  I have initially addressed this in the blog, as I recognize that making alimony payments (or not making them) is one of the truly hard and hot button issues in divorce.  There are both payers and payees who have been deeply hurt and aggrieved by the system.  Most of these individuals may well find this post unpalatable.  As I think about that, I am not sure anyone finds having to pay alimony a good thing.  It is however, often a necessary evil, and as an advocate if I represent the spouse who is paying, I try to get the amount and time frame as minimal as possible.   Alternatively, when I am the advocate for the recipient, I try to get the amount and time frame as broad as possible.  That is the joy of being a litigator – you get to argue both sides of every question, sometimes on the same day.

Joking aside, I firmly believe that setting parameters for judges to follow and then … Keep reading