Massachusetts Alimony Reform has been working for more than 15 years to bring peace, independence, and self-sufficiency to the parties of divorce. Our multi-year efforts culminated in the Alimony Reform Act becoming law on September 26, 2011.
Unfortunately, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, in 3 decisions, misinterpreted the law's clear intent in 2015.
We continue to work to restore the alimony reform Passed Unanimously in Massachusetts, in 2011..
If you believe that the job of the SJC is to “Interpret the Law” and NOT Make Law by “Legislating from the Bench”, WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT.
To join the Movement,
button in the upper right corner.
Contact your Legislators
Insist they support The effort to return the alimony reform act of 2011, back to it's original intent.
Help FUND the EFFORT with a DONATION
If you have an unfair alimony obligation,
CONTACT - STEVE HITNER at:
Alimony No Longer Tax Deductable
The new tax reform bill currently contains some wording that could have a dramatic impact on people seeking a divorce or alimony modification, AFTER DECEMBER 2018.
1. "The deduction for alimony paid to an ex-spouse would be disallowed, and the income would no longer be taxable to the recipient.
2. This would only apply to divorces entered into after 2018 (the original proposal applied after 2017), so existing agreements generally would not be impacted.
3. However, if an existing agreement is modified after 2018, it would become subject to this new rule."
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Atty. Jason Owens has a blog which contains an excellent in depth review of the New Tax Reform Law.
Please copy and paste the the link below in your browser:
Recent Decisions that might effect your situation.
JEFFREY W. FLORvs. THERESA M. FLOR.
No. 16-P-752. Berkshire. December 8, 2016. - October 4, 2017. Present:Green, Agnes, & Desmond, JJ.
Divorce and Separation, Modification of judgment, Alimony.
Complaint for divorce filed in the Berkshire Division of the Probate and Family Court Department on August 24, 2007.
A complaint for modification, filed October 7, 2015, was heard by Richard A. Simons, J., and a motion for reconsideration was considered by him.
Dennis M. LaRochelle for the husband.
Please Click the link below for more information.
Young v. Young
The Supreme Judicial Court remanded this divorce action to the probate and family court with instructions to reevaluate the alimony judgment in light of this opinion and enter a new judgment accordingly. The court held (1) where the supporting spouse has the ability to pay, the need for support of the recipient spouse under general term alimony is the amount required to enable her to maintain the standard of living she had at the time of the separation leading to the divorce, not the amount required to enable her to maintain the standard of living she would have had in the future if the couple had not divorced; and (2) although there might be circumstances where it is reasonable a fair to award a percentage of the supporting spouse’s income as general term alimony to the recipient spouse, those circumstances were not present in this case.
Multiple Errors Distort 2017 Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines. Fixes Reportedly Coming.
By Attorney, Jason Owens
October 6, 2017
As the product of a closed and secretive process, it probably isn’t a surprise that the 2017 Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines contain a critical error. Unless changes are made to the 2017 Guidelines, this error is likely to complicate and confuse parties, judges and attorneys in thousands of child support cases for parents who share physical custody in Massachusetts over the next four years.
As we recently blogged, the 2017 Guidelinesincorporate an ambitious new approach for crediting parents with substantial medical and child care costsin the child support calculation. However, the new medical and child care credits result in glaring errors when applied to shared physical custody cases in which parents share parenting time equally.
In many shared custody cases, the error in the 2017 Guidelines will seriously distort the child support calculation. Here’s the rub: the 2017 Guidelines erroneously doublethe generous new medical/child care credit in shared custody cases. Thus, a parent with shared custody and a medical insurance expense of $100 per week is likely to see his or her child support change by $130 per week. In effect, this parent is being paid$130 for incurring a $100 expense.
The error in the 2017 Guidelines does not dramatically affect child support in every shared custody case. For parents with relatively low incomes and minor medical insurance and child care costs, the distortion is less dramatic. However, in higher income shared custody cases, even relatively modest medical and child care deductions result in serious distortions of the final child support order.
To read more, click on the link below or copy and paste in your browser.
Women and men seeking term limits to alimony.
cohabitation and the right to retire nixed by the SJC
For women and Men divorced before march 1, 2012
Mass Alimony Reform is working to fix the Supreme Judicial Court's (SJC) decisions in three January 2015 cases (Chin v Merriot, Rodman v Rodman, Doktor v Doktor). Despite the clear intent of the Alimony Reform Act of 2011, these decisions ended the benefits of the alimony reform law for persons divorced before March 1, 2012. The court's action reinstated alimony payments: a) for life, and b) to recipients who share a common household (co-habitating ex-spouses).
The SJC's decision also ignored the House and Senate's Alimony Reform Task Force and the many participants supporting the unanimous vote of both the House and Senate for alimony reform, including the Massachusetts Bar Association, The Women's Bar Association, and the Boston Bar Association).
January 22, 2019
Three Identical Bills Titled:
An Act Reforming Alimony in the Commonwealth (last session - H 3088, H 740)
Bill H 3088 (H 740) was originally drafted by the Alimony Reform Task Force as a "Legislative Correction " to the SJC's misinterpretation of the intent of the Alimony Reform Act of 2011.
The Members of the Alimony Reform Task Force, who enthusiastically approved both the Alimony Reform Act of 2011 and the "Legislative Correction" ( H740) were appointed by the Chairs of the Judiciary because of their positions on the Mass Bar, Boston Bar, Woman's Bar, American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, Chief Justice of the Probate and Stephen Hitner (MAR). The group also included several Legislators.
When the ARA of 2011 was brought before the Senate, it received accolades from Senator Creem, Senator Candaras, and Senator Eldridge. The Act was approved unanimously by the Senate.
Last year, H 3088, also known as H 740, was approved unanimously by the House. When the Bill got to the Senate, it was killed by Senator Will Brownsberger on August 9, 2018, who referred to the Bill as "Chaff".
While it is not understood why the Bill was not allowed a vote in the Senate in 2018, our goal is to hit the ball out of the park in 2019.
THE BILLS and SPONSORS
Senator Paul Feeney
* These are "Docket Numbers". An official BILL NUMBER will be assigned after BILLS are sent to the JUDICIARY COMMITTEE.
Now that we have Sponsors, it is critical to get as many Co-Sponsors as possible to show support.
YOUR ACTION PLAN
The co-sponsorship period will be open for two weeks from now until Friday February 1, 2019.
Step 1: Communicate! "Support H.740 To Fix Court Revisions"
Let your House and Senate members simply know that you want their support for House Bill H.740, a bill to provide a technical fix to the court's 2015 decision. H.740 was sponsored by 40 Massachusetts senators and hose members.
What H.740 Does and Does Not Do.
Does: Allows all alimony payers the right to file a complaint for modification with the Massachusetts Probate & Family Court to terminate alimony payments based on their ex-spouse's cohabitation, the durational guidelines of the Alimony Reform Act [the "Act"], and reaching the age for full retirement under Social Security regardless if their marriage ended prior to March 1, 2012.
Does Not Do: H.740 is not an automatic termination of alimony. While the alimony payer has the right to file for modification with the court, the filing does not grant an automatic end to alimony payments. Under the Alimony Reform Act, reaching the Act's durational limits shall be deemed a material change of circumstance to be considered by the court. However, the court will only grant alimony termination if the court finds that deviation from those limits is warranted for good cause and such cause is in writing.
Does: The burden of proof to continue alimony payments after the durational limits of the Act rests with the alimony receiver after the payers' filing of a modification with the court. The alimony receiver must meet specified conditions -- in accordance with the Act -- to continue receiving payments from their divorced, alimony-paying spouse. Such conditions shall be considered by the court.
Does Not Do: Similar to the durational limits, cohabitation does not result in an automatic termination. A complaint for modification must be filed with the court. The payor must meet the burden of proof whether the alimony should be reduced, suspended, or terminated.
Does Not Do: Non-modifiable separation agreements are not changed by H.740 or the Alimony Reform Law. "No existing alimony judgment under this section where the parties have agreed in writing that the existing alimony judgment survives or is not modifiable shall be modified by a court without the consent of both parties."
Step 2: Tell Your Legislators to Support Passage of All Three Bills.
The best way to get a bill passed into law is encourage your House and Senate members to support the bill
To get started, click the link for your State legislator contact information. We recommend calling your legislator directly, rather than initially sending an email. Use an email to follow-up on the call, and then to keep following up.
Please contact Steve Hitner and arrange a meeting with your legislators, so that Steve can bring his supporting information on a) why the Bill is needed, b) the history of the Bill, and c) why supporting the Bill is necessary now.
Divorce Coach, Consultant, and Mediator
President, Mass Alimony Reform
Member, 2011 Alimony Reform Task Force
Steveh [@] usdivorcemediation.com
Step 3: Support mass Alimony Reform with time and donations
Also, please support the Alimony Reform efforts with your time and a donation. Your donation offsets the cost of printing the legislative briefing notebooks, parking in Boston, and other expenses to get the Bill introduced and passed into law.
Update: SJC Approves Constitutionality Of Ending Alimony Payments For Marriages Less Than 20 years For Divorces Prior To March 1, 2012
Some good SJC news! Two spring 2017 SJC decisions ruled the constitutionality of ending alimony payments for divorces prior to March 1, 2012 that are subject to durational limits of the Alimony Reform Act. "The durational limits, outlined in G. L. c. 208, s. 49(b) of the Act, provide termination dates for general term alimony obligations arising from marriages lasting fewer than twenty (20) years." [Reference]
The ruling did not change the SJC 2015 ruling that restricted alimony reform for divorces prior to March 1, 2012 involving long term marriages greater than 20 years. We still need legislation to fix the 2015 court decision. However, these newer SJC decisions are important for overcoming the negative criticsm that the new alimony reform bill H.740 is unconstitutional because it applies alimony reform provision retroactively.
Van Arsdale Vs. Van Arsdale. "This appeal raises the constitutionality of applying the durational limits of the Alimony Reform Act of 2011 (act), St. 2011, c. 124, to certain alimony agreements predating the act's effective date. We conclude that the application of the act's durational limits to certain alimony agreements that predate the act is not unconstitutionally retroactive because the statute does not attach "new legal consequences to events completed before its enactment." [Reference]
Popp Vs. Popp. "For reasons set forth in its decision issued today in Van Arsdale v. Van Arsdale, 477 Mass. __ (2017), the Supreme Judicial Court held that the durational limits of the Alimony Reform Act of 2011 are constitutional." [Reference]