On April 5, 2016, the collective eyes of Massachusetts divorce attorneys and estate planners were fixed on the Supreme Judicial Court, where the highly-anticipated oral arguments on “further appellate review” of Pfannenstiehl v. Pfannenstiehl took place.
The 2015 Appeals Court decision received national attention for its potential detrimental impact on the estate planning goals of families who desire to shield trust assets from divorce claims. In Pfannenstiehl, both the Trial Court and the Appeals Court went to great lengths to ensure that the wife would benefit, at least indirectly, from an irrevocable trust established by her soon-to-be-ex-husband’s father even though the husband had no control over the trust and could receive distributions only at the discretion of the trustees. The husband had no present, guaranteed, enforceable interest to receive or use assets or income from the trust. The trustees’ discretion was limited to making distributions under an “ascertainable standard” for a beneficiary’s health, education, maintenance and support. The Trial Court and Appeals Court decisions failed to account for the fact that the trustees did not make distributions to the husband for most of the marriage, and that the husband received distributions only during the final two years of … Keep reading
There have been rumors for months that the Supreme Court was going to make a final decision about how America will handle gay marriage.
As of today, I’m thrilled to report that gay marriage is now the law of the land!
For the couples around the country who have waited for years to make their unions legally official, for their children, for all of us who champion equality – this is so good on so many levels.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, author of today’s ruling legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States, said it best.
No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than they once were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live
With 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