SOURCE: Massachusetts Alimony Reform

September 15, 2009 09:08 ET

Massachusetts Alimony Reform to Tell Shocking Stories of People Who Have Lost Almost Everything Because of Archaic Alimony Laws

Incredible Stories of Lifetime Alimony, Bankruptcy and Court Ordered Jail Time to Be Told to Massachusetts Joint Committee of the Judiciary September 17, 2009

BOSTON, MA--(Marketwire - September 15, 2009) - A growing list of Massachusetts residents, some from the group Massachusetts Alimony Reform, will get their chance to testify to the Joint Committee of the Judiciary on September 17, 2009, at the Massachusetts State House, to convince the legislature to change the outdated alimony laws that are on the books in Massachusetts. The hearing will be held in room B1 starting at 1:00pm. House Bill 1785 would change outdated lifetime alimony laws in Massachusetts.

Residents including women and men as well as "second spouses" will talk about their personal stories of jail time, unreasonable demands from judges, bankruptcy, liquidation of retirement accounts and maxing out of credit lines all to comply with alimony obligations that many times are not affordable and unreasonable due to material and substantial changes in their circumstances. Many of these residents who will testify will never have the chance to retire or accumulate any savings under the current Massachusetts laws and will continue to be driven deeper in debt.

Some of the Massachusetts Residents that will testify include:

-- Steve and Jeanie Hitner of Marlborough, MA: The Hitners were recently the subject of a Boston Magazine feature and exposé on the subject of lifetime alimony. Steve Hitner, a small business owner, has been forced to max out all of his credit lines, liquidate assets, and declare bankruptcy to support his ex-wife who is capable but has refused to work both during the marriage and after the divorce. http://www.bostonmagazine.com/articles/till_death_do_us_pay/

-- Brenda Caggiano of Westwood, MA: Since her divorce in 2003, she has given her ex-husband close to $100,000, including $57,000+ from her home equity. Ms. Caggiano is a 70-year-old retired teacher living solely on her Mass. teacher's retirement. From this retirement she pays her ex-husband $500 per month in alimony. She has no savings and still owes money on her home. She has been ordered by the court to keep him on her health insurance. Although he is a CPA, he has consistently, both during the marriage and after the divorce, refused full time employment. Her ex-husband collects social security, and co-habitates in a home with no mortgage.

-- Steven F. Niro, Portland, MA: Married for four and a half years (divorced in Worcester, MA) and has been divorced for over 23 years. After his youngest child graduated from college, his child support ended and his ex-wife hired an attorney for a modification to get an increase in alimony. Although only married for 4 1/2 years, instead of terminating his alimony, the judge increased his alimony payments to her from $65/week to $700/week due to the fact that his child support obligation had ended. She currently works full time and according to him is totally capable of being self-supporting.

"The current laws are more concerned with the needs of the alimony recipient rather than the ability of the payer to comply with a court ordered alimony obligation," says Steve Hitner. "House Bill 1785, if approved, would add structure and guidelines to provide for consistency and predictability in court ordered rulings. Most Judges and Family Court Lawyers admit that the current practice of using out dated and contradictory Case Law for Court decisions has put the system in disarray and dysfunction."

The committee will be hearing testimony from residents who want passage of House Bill 1785 which currently has over 72 co-sponsors in the legislature. House Bill 1785 aims to modify the existing and outdated alimony laws in Massachusetts. The full text of the bill can be viewed here: http://www.mass.gov/legis/bills/house/186/ht01pdf/ht01785.pdf


About Massachusetts Alimony Reform:

Mission of Massachusetts Alimony Reform: "To promote peace and the independence of the parties to divorce, we must amend the alimony laws to clarify guidelines, protect the truly needy and eliminate lifelong marital welfare." http://www.massalimonyreform.org/

Alimony reform has been the subject of many high-profile news reports including the following:

http://www.bostonmagazine.com/articles/till_death_do_us_pay/

http://www.myfoxboston.com/dpp/news/special_reports/paying_alimony_forever_081209

http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2008/06/13/the_chilling_effect_of_states_divorce_laws/

Contact Steve Hitner at Mass. Alimony Reform 508 335-0069 for additional information. A copy of HR 1785, a set of horror stories by people who have been subjected to the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court system, can be found on the website http://www.massalimonyreform.org/. You can also join MAR to find out how you can help change the law.

Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Steve Hitner
    508-335-0069