Category Archives: Divorce

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

Award Winning Book on Collaborative Practice

Proud to announce my participation as one of the co-authors of this award winning book on Collaborative Practice published by Massachusetts Continuing Education (MCLE NEW ENGLAND). Thanks to all of the co-authors who participated and to MCLE for their help. The International Association for Continuing Legal Education (ACLEA) has announced that Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education… Continue Reading

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

New Child Support Guidelines Effective Today

Today, August, 1, 2013, Massachusetts rolled out new Child Support Guidelines, affecting any parent who pays or receives child support.  The new Guidelines can be viewed at  I also find it useful to review the red lined version ( so that you can clearly see the differences between the new and old guidelines. The… Continue Reading

Definition of income under the Massachusetts child support guidelines

The latest version of the Massachusetts child support guidelines contains a long list of items that are to be considered income for purposes of the guidelines. Most people, including lawyers are surprised when they see what is included. It makes no difference if the IRS thinks its taxable income.  There is a catch-all category for… 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

Ask yourself these seven questions before hiring your divorce lawyer.

Your experience with your lawyer will be one of the most important variables that will determine how you feel when your divorce is over. And, to be sure, unlike a chronic illness, your divorce will, at some point be over. There are many things to consider before hiring a lawyer such as experience, education, and training,… Continue Reading

Getting divorced? Should you change your Will?

I am frequently asked by clients if he/she can change a Last Will and Testament during a divorce proceeding. I have had trouble finding any controlling legal authority on this, so I think the decision about whether to do it is up to you. If you have a Will that gives all your property to… 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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