Boston Globe Editorial: Plug the loopholes in alimony reform

UNTIL A much-needed reform in 2011, the alimony and divorce laws in Massachusetts were among the most antiquated and unfair in the nation. The law that the Legislature approved unanimously that year modernized alimony rules and curbed abuses in the system, in which some spouses continued to receive alimony long after it was appropriate.

Now the Legislature is confronting a thorny question with no obvious answer: Should couples who divorced under the old law — the very law whose flaws were the whole reason for the reform — have to continue living under its legacy?

Or, to put it in human terms: Should the Legislature cut off alimony payments to some spouses, mostly women, who feel that divorce terms negotiated under the old rules should stand, or should they require paying spouses, mostly men, to continue paying alimony under conditions that the Legislature has recognized may be unreasonable?

State Senator William Brownsberger, whose judiciary committee is looking at the legislation, called it a zero-sum game, and he’s right: Someone is going to come away feeling robbed. But while applying the reforms retroactively will undoubtedly create disruption, legislators should approve a bill that would extend the 2011 reforms. As a matter of fairness, all couples in Massachusetts should be subject to the same rules. More...

Full Editorial is here.

Mass Judiciary Committee of the Legislature is Suffering from Constipation

June 22, 2017 Newsletter by Steve Hitner; Download June 22 Newsletter

Now, I know we fed them the proper diet of information.  

We gave to them many doses of our Horror Stories  at the Commonwealth Conversations meetings, and provided them with plenty of reading material to allow them to get things moving.

The chairman of the Joint Committee, Senator Will Brownsberger seems to be ignoring the urge to push things along claiming that  he is afraid of causing pain.   While there are some recipients of Spousal Support that may experience some discomfort with the Passage of H 740, it is a question of NEED vs. GREED.  At least one of the complaints at the Judiciary Hearing was mostly HOT AIR as she is worth well over a million dollars.  As I have repeated many time, a recipient spouse with solid evidence of need is protected by Judicial Discretion in the form of Deviation Factors.

Currently Senator Brownsberger says that the Judiciary is working on other issues and will not be dealing with the Alimony Reform issue until next February, 2018.  While I do respect the Senator as an honorable person, I do not feel very comfortable that after all of our efforts he is not sympathetic to the plight of the Alimony Payer.   

So, what do we do to get things moving along? (Read Newsletter)

Another Alimony Suicide

June 15, 2017 By Steve Hitner Download June 15 2017 Newsletter

On March 1, 2012 the Alimony Reform Act of 2011 went into effect.  The members of the Task Force intended the new Law to be available for all divorces with modifiable agreements. 

Unfortunately, due to the misinterpretation of the Law the SJC ruled that for Retirement and Cohabitation, pre 2012 divorces could not apply for relief. 

This is old news, however, there are those Legislators who feel compelled to disregard the wishes and wisdom of the Alimony Reform Task Force and not support H 740.  They say that "The ability for a pre 2012 divorced payer to file for a modification to terminate is "Unconstitutional".  Well, the SJC recently ruled that not to be so.  H 740 is constitutional.

They say that it costs too much for a receiving spouse to go to court.  I say, they knew that some day the alimony would end. (See more by downloading the Newsletter)

Advocates want lawmakers to revisit alimony law

 May 25, 2017 By Christian M. WadeCNHI State Reporter

BOSTON — Six years ago, lawmakers passed a raft of reforms meant to address inequities in the state’s antiquated divorce laws, ending lifetime alimony payments and capping how much one spouse is required to pay the other.

But recent rulings by the state’s highest court have people who were divorced before the 2012 reforms still bound to the old rules, including a requirement that they must pay alimony if they have reached retirement age or their former spouse is living with a new partner.

“For those people, alimony essentially still means indentured servitude, even if their ex-spouse is working or supported by a new partner,” said Stephen Hitner, a divorce mediator and president of the advocacy group Massachusetts Alimony Reform.

Hitner and other advocates are backing legislation to make the new provisions of alimony law apply to settlements before 2012, as well as new ones. Read More