Massachusetts Collaborative Law Attorney

Massachusetts Alimony Reform Act goes into effect March 1, 2012

The following is a summary of highlights of the new Alimony Reform law in Massachusetts.

Alimony: New Law Establishes Durational Limits

  • Long Term marriages (greater than 20 years): Alimony will end at retirement age as defined by Social Security Act;
  • 5 years or less: Maximum Alimony term is 50% of the number of months of marriage;
  • 10 years or less, but greater than 5 years: Maximum Alimony term is 60% of the number of months of marriage;
  • 15 years or less, but greater than 10 years: Maximum Alimony term is 70% of the number of months of marriage;
  • 20 years or less, but greater than 10 years: Maximum Alimony term is 80% of the number of months of marriage;
  • Other durational limits apply for “Rehabilitative Alimony,” “Reimbursement Alimony,” and “Transactional Alimony”; [Read more...]

Lawyers say alimony reform a long time coming

Alimony reform in Massachusetts is an issue that has been discussed for years. On March 1, 2012, a new alimony law went into effect that completely changes the law in Massachusetts. Under the old law, the Court had no authority to set durational limits for even the shortest of marriages. The new law establishes durational limits and establishes various classes of alimony. It also provides those paying under the old law the right to seek a modification or termination of alimony where appropriate.  Following is the article from the Lowell Sun in which I am quoted discussing the need for alimony reform.  You may also review the highlights of the new Massachusetts Alimony Reform Act.

By Lisa Redmond | Lowell Sun Times (original source)

BOSTON — Supporters call it a much-needed divorce.

When Gov. Deval Patrick signed the Massachusetts Alimony Reform Law last September, replacing the state’s antiquated law, the Massachusetts Bar Association described it as “landmark legislation” that will enact “fair and equitable alimony in Massachusetts.”

The new law, which went into effect March 1, includes a major change: Former spouses are no longer locked into a lifetime sentence of paying alimony.

Lowell divorce attorney Eric Schutzbank, of Berid-Schutzbank, described the new law as “absolutely necessary.”

He added, “The law is a good compromise that should enable those going through the difficult process of getting divorced to have a greater opportunity to negotiate an outcome they can be satisfied with as it pertains to alimony.”

Taking a page from the politicians’ playbook, the new law allows for “alimony term limits.” With alimony term limits, alimony from long-term marriages of more than 20 years will end at retirement age. [Read more...]

What are the requirements for an annulment in MA?

Additional Information:

I have been married for 8 months, we have a 10 month old daughter. I just found out that my husband has a criminal background and has been using a fake name since I have known him.   What are the requirements for an annulment in MA?  How should I proceed?

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

It is unfortuate that you’re going through this situation.  There are various grounds for an annulment in Massachusetts.  The one ground that might fit your situation is fraud.  You would have to show that the fraud went to the heart of the marriage.  The fact that your husband did not tell you about his criminal background would not likely qualify as grounds for fraud under the law.  Providing you with a fake name would likely meet those grounds.  It is also possible that your marriage was not valid in the first place if he used a fake name on the marriage certificate.  That being said, you should be aware that granting of the annulment would mean that you would need to then file a separate complaint (either for Patenrity if he did not sign the voluntary acknowledgment at the hospital or for child support) to obtain any support and custody orders.  It would be less expensive to file for divorce so that child support, custody and any visitation he might seek can all be dealt with at the same time.  You should consult with experienced family law attorney to find out more about your rights and obligations in this matter.  [Read more...]

In MA, can an order for child support be modified without going to court?

Additional Information:

My ex and I have agreed to lowered payments and we have drawn up a new agreement which we both signed and had notarized.   Is what we did legally binding or can she sue me for back child support?

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

While parties can agree to modify without going to court, such agreements are nonbinding.  She can in fact file a contempt for back child support if she so wishes in the future.  There is an easy Joint Complaint for Modification of child support that can be filed administratively and approved without going to court if the clerk magistrate determines that the amount being paid is within the child support guidelines or reasonably close to the guidelines amount.  You should consult with an experienced family law attorney to determine if the amount you’re agreeing to is likely to be approved by the court.  [Read more...]