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New and Amended Laws (MA)
Alimony Reform Bill for Bay State
Divorce Lawyers May be Biggest Losers
July 10, 2009 (18:49:18 EST)
A bill presented by Massachusetts State Rep. Steven M. Walsh, (D., Eleventh Essex), and over 70 other legislators and/or citizens, which is quietly captioned, "An Act Relative to the Determination of Alimony Payments", the bill seeks to align alimony payment determination into line with the formulas and guidelines used by many other states. And to abolish the lifelong payments so many divorce attorneys seek for their clients.
Current alimony laws only require a divorcing party demonstrate they have been "customarily" supported by their spouse for all of their needs, and that circumstances such as being a home-maker and majority caretaker of the divorcing couple's children are enough to entitle the stay-at-home parent not only the house, a car, child support, medical and dental insurance, (and in many cases the payer must purchase life insurance to insure the payee will get the money even if the payer dies).
In many cases the alimony is a perpetual source of income based on one party's ability to earn and the other party's simple refusal to get a job.
Telling the supported ex-spouse "Get a job!" is what this bill is all about. If they have no skills, the bill proposes they have a reasonable time to learn how to do something marketable, and then do it.
Although I have written this article is gender neutral terms, the simple fact that women in Massachusetts employ divorce lawyers who at times, the women themselves fail to understand, will destroy any chance of peace between the divorcing parties -- and it is all about money.
Very few divorce attorney are truly happy for their clients who call and say, "Just letting you know, we've worked things out, and I won't be needing you any longer".
The horror stories have all been told, over and over -- usually with the same basic premise; Wife's attorney suggests she get a restraining order, many times accompanied with false allegations of verbal, psychological and physical abuse. I have heard women in court tell the Judge, "No your honor, he's not violent, but when finds out I want a divorce and am dating his [friend/brother/employer] he'll kill me". Most of the time the Judge issues the restraining order "just in case". Sometimes within hours the husband is out of the house, if he's lucky he's allowed to take a few personal items from the home.
By no strange coincidence, even with allegations of abuse, "settlement" of all issues is usually reached when the defendant/husband caves in after realizing he will either be paying her, (and sometimes her attorney), as well as his own divorce attorney -- none of whom have any desire to stop the clock on billable hours. Yearly trips to court for Complaints for Modification, Motions, Contempt and other actions can keep the billable hour clock running indefinitely.
Filed on January 13, 2009, Massachusetts House of Representatives Bill No. 1785, (House Docket No. 3352), makes sense for contemporary divorces where many times both spouses contribute equally to raising the children, earning the family income and paying the mortgage and other bills.
Read the bill in it's entirety at: