Selected Massachusetts Cases on Alimony

by | Apr 12, 2022 | Divorce |

Here are important Massachusetts cases on alimony:

Alison Voorhis v. Paul AB. Relle, 97 Mass. App. Ct. 46 (2020)

The Appeals Court held that “marital lifestyle is not a factor that should be considered when assessing whether deviation beyond an alimony durational limit is warranted.”…  “The analysis is in the “here and now,” not the marital lifestyle at the time of the divorce.”

Balistreri v. Balistreri, 93 Mass. App. Ct. 515 (2018)

“Where there are one or more pre-divorce-judgment complaints (whether for support, modification, or divorce) that result in a judgment of spousal support, it lies within the judge’s discretion — taking into account the totality of the circumstances — to determine which of these pleadings is to be used to calculate the length of a marriage for purposes of the alimony reform act.”

Chin v. Merriot, 470 Mass. 527 (2015), Rodman v. Rodman , 470 Mass. 539 (2015) and Doktor v. Doktor, 470 Mass. 547 (2015). 
The retirement provision of the Alimony Reform Act of 2011 does not apply retroactively to alimony orders in divorce judgments that entered before March 1, 2012

Connor v. Benedict, 481 Mass. 567 (2019)
A former spouse’s payment of alimony to the wife did not prevent the wife from forming an “economic marital partnership” with her husband in the years before their marriage.

Dolan v. Dolan, 99 Mass. App. Ct. 284 (2021)
Capital gains from an asset that was part of an equitable division of property can be considered in deciding whether there has been a material change in circumstances justifying a modification of alimony. 

Duff-Kareores v. Kareores, 474 Mass. 528 (2016)
In-depth discussion of “length of marriage” where a couple had married, divorced, remarried and were now divorcing again.

George v. George, 476 Mass. 65 (2016)
“Discussion of how a judge should apply the ‘interests of justice’ standard when determining whether to deviate from the presumptive termination dates for general term alimony obligations set forth in G. L. c. 208, § 49 (b).”

Green v. Green, 84 Mass. App. Ct. 1109 (2013)
Supports the proposition that alimony might continue beyond an obligor’s retirement.

Holmes v. Holmes, 467 Mass. 653 (2014)
Generally, “the maximum presumptive duration of an award of general term alimony (based on the length of the marriage)” begins when the judgment of divorce is issued, and “does not include the time period during which temporary alimony was paid” while the divorce was pending.

Jacquelyn D. Snow v. Withrop E. Snow, 476 Mass. 425 (2017)
The SJC held that: “1) the durational limit of general term alimony starts to run on the date that the alimony was awarded, not on the date of the divorce judgment or on the date temporary alimony was awarded, 2) Income earned from overtime pay must be considered in making an initial alimony award determination, regardless of whether that determination is made before or after the divorce judgment, 3) when an award of alimony is made, the judge must specifically address the issue of health insurance coverage for the recipient spouse.”

L.J.S. v. J.E.S., 464 Mass. 346 (2013)
“[I]f presented with evidence of potential tax consequences, a judge should consider those consequences when creating or modifying alimony provisions in a divorce instrument..”

Pierce v. Pierce, 455 Mass. 286 (2009)
Discusses the factors a judge must take into consideration in making an award of alimony or a modification of an award and the balance a judge must strive for when resources are inadequate to maintain the marital standard of living. The court found that the Probate judge “did not abuse her discretion in finding that a reduction in the amount of alimony, but not a termination of alimony, was warranted in view of the totality of the circumstances.” Also provides a good review of the history of alimony in Mass.

Sbrogna v. Sbrogna, 92 Mass. App. Ct. 639 (2018)
In determining the length of the marriage for alimony, “the number of months from the date of legal marriage to the date of service of a complaint or petition for divorce or separate support,” counts from the date of the marriage to the date of the pleading upon which the judgment of divorce is ultimately entered.

Van Arsdale v. Van Arsdale, 477 Mass. 218 (2017)
“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.’”

Young v. Young, 478 Mass. 1 (2017)
“[W]here the supporting spouse (here, the husband) has the ability to pay, the need for support of the recipient spouse (here, the wife) 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.”

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