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
The modification process is a bit more streamlined than the divorce process, mainly because there is a lot less discovery. Since the property division portion of a divorce agreement or judgement is not modifiable, issues of valuation are rarely necessary.
Modification has a defined starting date: the date of the divorce. What were the circumstances then? This is shown by the financial statements or the custody plan as well as the court judgement or the parties’ agreement. Then the question becomes: What are the circumstances now and what is the material change in circumstances that warrants a modification?
If the modification is being brought under the new alimony law, then the change in circumstances will have been set forth in the law itself. In these cases, generally the person paying is asking for a reduction. The burden of proof is on the recipient to show why (if she/he can) the reduction or elimination should not take place.
Aside from alimony cases, the party alleging the change in circumstances usually has the burden of proving that a material change in circumstances has occurred. Most judges will not allow modifications at the time of motions for … Keep reading