Fitch Law Partners LLP
Excellence in Complex Litigation
617-542-5542

Alimony

Alternative Dispute Resolution In Massachusetts: What Is Conciliation?

Supreme Judicial Court Rule 1:18 encompasses the Uniform Rules on Dispute Resolution ("Rules"). The Rules govern court-connected dispute resolution services provided in civil and criminal cases in the Commonwealth's trial courts. One of the express purposes of the Rules is to "foster innovation" in the delivery of court-connected dispute resolution services. Conciliation is an alternative dispute resolution process offered in many of the Commonwealth's Probate & Family Courts, and in some District and Superior Courts.

Court Deviates From Durational Limit With Extension Of Alimony Paid To A Disabled Spouse

Since the enactment of the Alimony Reform Act of 2011 (the "Act"), alimony awards once considered ambiguous or lifetime entitlements are now subject to specific, durational time limits based upon the length of the parties' marriage. But, under what circumstances might such durational limits be extended?  In a recent decision, a Probate and Family Court (Hampshire Division) judge has ruled that a former husband's obligation to pay alimony to his disabled former wife shall continue beyond durational limits.  Barcalow v. Barcalow (Lawyers Weekly No. 15-003-12.) In the Barcalow case, the parties were married for approximately 6 years, 2 months (or 74 months).  By the terms of the Act, if the duration of the marriage is 10 years or less, but more than 5 years, general term alimony shall be no greater than 60 percent of the number of months of the marriage.  G.L. c. 208, § 49(b).  Following passage of the Act and more than 7-years post divorce, Mr. Barcalow filed a Complaint for Modification, seeking to terminate his alimony obligation to his former wife based, in part, upon the fact that his obligation exceeded the Act's durational limit.

Supreme Judicial Court Determines that Retirement Provision of Massachusetts Alimony Reform Act Is Not Retroactive

On January 20, 2015, the Supreme Judicial Court issued decisions in three cases involving an important provision of the Massachusetts Alimony Reform Act ("the Act").  In each of these cases, which are described more fully below, the alimony payor wanted to terminate their alimony obligation based upon the Act's language that alimony "shall terminate upon the payor attaining the full retirement age."  See G.L. c. 208, § 49(f).   

Trial Court Declines to Extend Alimony Despite Wealthy Former Husband's Ability to Pay

The Alimony Reform Act of 2011 provides for alimony to presumptively terminate when a payor reaches full retirement age unless a Court finds that a material change in circumstances has occurred and there is clear and convincing evidence to support an extension of the payments.  While appellate courts have yet to rule as to what facts and circumstances may justify such an extension, at least one trial court has found that the ability of a wealthy former spouse to continue to pay support after reaching full retirement age is not, in and of itself, sufficient to justify an extended alimony order.

"Self-Modifying" Alimony Provision Struck Down by Massachusetts Appeals Court

In a recent Appeals Court case of Hassey v. Hassey, a provision in a divorce judgment requiring a husband to pay thirty percent of his anticipated future gross income to his former wife was struck down as inconsistent with the terms of the Alimony Reform Act of 2011.

Highest Court Rules that Temporary Alimony is "Separate and Distinct" from General Term Alimony

The enactment of the Alimony Reform Act of 2011, which went into effect March 1, 2012, was hailed as the most dramatic reform in family law in decades.  The sweeping new law effectively ended the reign of lifetime alimony in Massachusetts, tying the length of time that a former spouse could be ordered to pay "general term" alimony (traditional alimony paid to an economically dependent spouse) to the length of the marriage in marriages of 20 years or less, and to hard limits of three years for "transitional alimony" (paid to help a spouse adjust to the change in lifestyle or location after divorce) and five years for "rehabilitative alimony" (intended to assist a recipient spouse in the short term who is expected to become self-supporting by a specific time).  The Act further provides for the termination of alimony upon the payor reaching full retirement age or the recipient's remarriage.

"What Happened in Vegas" is Fair Game in Divorce Court... and the "Cost" of a Weekend in Sin City Could be Alimony and Property Payments to Your Former Spouse

The Bachelor Party.  In the UK, it's known as "Stag Night"; in France, "enterrement de vie de garcon" - literally, "burial/funeral of the life as a bachelor."  For grooms-to-be across the globe, it is a time honored tradition, and in the US, Las Vegas is commonly known as the ideal destination for this debaucherous weekend of gambling, drinking and good-natured hazing. Perhaps thanks to the oft-uttered mantra of "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas", most bachelors return home no worse for the wear.  For others, however, "what happened in Vegas" has resulted in damaged or broken marriages, and one Massachusetts husband will be paying the price for his misdeeds in cold hard cash.

Contact Us

Fitch Law Partners LLP
1 Beacon Street
Boston, MA 02108

Phone: 617-542-5542
Fax: 617-542-1542
Boston Law Office Map

Fitch Law Partners LLP
56 Pine St
Providence, RI 02903

Phone: 401-521-6500
Fax: 401-274-2780
Providence Law Office Map

Fitch Law Partners LLP
110 Cedar Street
Suite 250
Wellesley Hills, MA 02481

Phone: 617-542-5542
Fax: 617-542-1542
Map & Directions