Category Archives: Alimony

Hassey v. Hassey, 85 Mass.App.Ct. 518 (June 25, 2014)

This case involves an 21-year marriage in which Husband was the primary wage earner and Wife, excluding a brief stint in the late 80s, worked solely in the home. During the marriage, Husband invested in and obtained a greater interest in his dental practice – creating a difficult to estimate income stream which could continue to grow in the future. The judge issued a “self-modifying” alimony order ($8,500 monthly, plus 30% of all Husband’s income above $250,000, to be reported by Husband to Wife on a quarterly basis). Husband appealed the alimony order, arguing that it did not comply with the Alimony Reform Act.

The SJC agreed, holding that the award of $8,500 a month was to high, because it exceeded the 30%-35% presumptive maximum without any findings of Wife’s need (alimony “should generally not exceed the recipient’s need or 30 to 35 per cent of the different between the parties’ gross incomes.” G. L. c. 208, § 53(b)). The court also rejected the “self-modifying” portion of the order. They provided two reasons for rejecting this portion: (1) modifications must be based on judicial determinations supported by subsidiary findings of fact which show one party’s need and the other’s ability to pay, and this order was not based on a judicial determination, supported by subsidiary findings of fact, of an increase in the Wife’s need accompanied by the Husband’s ability to pay; and (2) the order is inequitable because it requires only Husband to disclose quarterly income, without requiring Wife to account for changes in her income which would affect her need for alimony.

Finally, the trial judge’s order set the alimony to terminate at Husband’s “retirement as defined in the [alimony reform act].” As there is not definition of “retirement” in the act, the SJC vacated this portion in order to have the point clarified on remand.

Link to the Full Case: Hassey vs. Hassey

Temporary Alimony is NOT General Term Alimony

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court added new clarification today in its opinion in the Holmes case (see full opinion here). In Holmes, Husband was ordered to pay temporary alimony during the pendency of the divorce modification case.  The SJC held that the 2 years Husband paid “temporary alimony” (during the pendency of the modification case)… Continue Reading

Your first meeting with your divorce lawyer

For most people the first step they take in getting divorced is contacting a divorce lawyer. A lot has been written on how to choose a lawyer. This article assumes that you already have chosen a lawyer who you think you will be satisfied with. There is a fair amount of anxiety surrounding that first… Continue Reading

Filling out your financial statement

One of the more annoying tasks for someone going through a Massachusetts divorce is to have to deal with the financial statement required by the Court. It is typical that in any divorce this form will be redone more than once, because it is required to be current each time there is an important event… Continue Reading

Six Months of experience under the new alimony reform law

We now have been working with the new alimony law for almost six months. What have we learned? Here are my thoughts: The new alimony law has resulted in a sea change. The notion of lifetime alimony in Massachusetts has gone the way of the Dodo bird. Interestingly, the wave of new modifications based upon… Continue Reading

Some little noted clarifications contained in the new alimony reform law

There has been a lot of attention given to the durational limits on alimony contained in the alimony reform law, including termination of alimony at the payor’s  federal retirement age. There are two other clarifications that will reduce litigation in areas where the prior law was unclear. Under the new law alimony cannot exceed the… Continue Reading

Article on new alimony law

This article, co-authored by Howard Goldstein, was incorporated in materials published by the Boston Bar Association on February 28, 2012 in connection with their continuing education program on the new alimony law.   Unintended Consequences of “An Act to Reform and Improve Alimony,” in Massachusetts: Avoiding the Pitfalls on the Road to Reform Janet Miller… Continue Reading

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