Whether the issue is divorce, modification of a prior divorce, custody, alimony, child support, or grand-parent's rights, every case and every client is different. For that reason, I offer a variety of options to address each client's specific family law needs.
In general terms, there are three alternatives when it comes to dealing with family law disputes:
COURT CANNOT ORDER MEDIATION AS A CONDITION TO ACCESS TO COURT, UNLESS THE PARTIES AGREE
While parties may agree that they will attempt to resolve parenting disputes through alternative dispute resolution methods before resorting to court, Judges may not require parties to present parenting issues to a mediator or parenting coordinator prior to filing a modification action, according to two recent decisions.
The Supreme Judicial Court, in Bower v. Bourney-Bower, Docket No.: SJC-11478 (September 15, 2014), reversed a trial judge’s order that required a mother and father to present parenting disputes to parenting coordinator before seeking relief from the court and the Massachusetts Appeals Court, in Ventrice v. Ventrice, Docket No.: 13-P-1992 (March 19, 2015), said that a trial judge could not order parties to mediate parenting disputes with a paid mediator as a precursor to court involvement. In so ruling, the SJC and the Appeals Court reasoned that such orders violate Article 11 of the Declaration of Rights of the Massachusetts Constitution, which guarantees the right of speedy and free access to the Courts. Nor may a Court transfer to a mediator or parenting coordinator the responsibility to make the final binding resolution of the matter, as that duty must lie with the judge.
The Alimony Reform Act was designed to limit the duration of alimony and create predictability. In some cases, it may offer relief to a paying spouse or restrict the duration of alimony received by a recipient spouse. Below, are some of the highlights of the new alimony statute:
Perhaps the most important aspect of the Alimony Reform Act of 2011 is the time limits it imposes on alimony. In most cases, a paying spouse may be obligated to pay alimony for a maximum period that is equal to a percentage of the number of months of the marriage:
Years of marriage:Maximum Duration Date on which Modification (% of months of marriage): Action may be Brought:
0-5 years 50% March 1, 2013
5-10 years 60% March 1, 2014
10-15 years 70% March 1, 2015
15-20 years 80% September 1, 2015
Over 20 years Indefinite – based on Judge’s discretion.
For divorces that entered after March 1, 2012, alimony will end when the paying spouse reaches “full retirement age”
While alimony is based on need and ability to pay, in most cases, the amount of alimony will be 30-35% of the difference between the parties’ gross incomes.
As to people whose divorce entered after March 1, 2012, the co-habitation of the recipient spouse may result in the suspension, termination or modification of alimony.
Although the new law went into effect on March 1, 2012, a person currently paying alimony may not seek modification of an existing order until the dates in the right-hand column of the table, above. It should be noted that if the parties’ Separation Agreement prohibits modification, the new law will not give them the right to modify or terminate alimony.
These are only some of the highlights, expressed in general terms. I would be happy to meet with you to discusshow the Alimony Reform Act of 2011 may apply to your individual situation.
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