Divorce & Family Law: November 2020 Archives

A Zero is Something: The Massachusetts Appeals Court Concludes that a Divorce Judgment Provided for a "Zero-Dollar Alimony Award"

People often think about the number zero as only nothing, when in fact, the invention of the humble zero constantly forces us to realize that the absence of something is a thing in and of itself.  In a recent decision, the Massachusetts Appeals Court changed the durational limits of an alimony award based on an implicit "zero-dollar alimony award" in the separation agreement, once again proving that when it comes to zero, nothing absolutely matters. 

Can a judge grant a deviation from the durational alimony limits when a complaint for modification of alimony is filed after the presumptive alimony durational limit has already expired?

The Appeals Court addressed this issue in the recent case, Clement v. Owens-Clement. In that case, the Husband and the Wife were married for a total of six years before they divorced in 2013. The parties' separation agreement, which was incorporated into their divorce judgment, included a merged alimony provision in which the parties waived past and present alimony, but presumptively left open the option to seek alimony in the future. 

Can a Judge Order a Party to a Divorce to Get a Job?

In a recent decision by the Appeals Court of Massachusetts - albeit under Rule 23, so it is not considered binding precedent though it can be cited for persuasive purposes - the Court overturned a portion of a divorce judgment that required the Wife, who would be receiving alimony, to seek full-time employment as a bookkeeper and to accept any offer of employment in that specific field. The trial court's judgment, the Appeals Court reasoned, overstepped its statutory authority.

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