SOURCE: Massachusetts Alimony Reform

September 11, 2009 08:30 ET

Massachusetts Residents to Testify at Statehouse in Effort to Reshape Outdated Alimony Laws

Joint Committee of the Judiciary to Hold Hearing at Statehouse Sept 17 to Hear Residents' Experiences of Lifetime Alimony, Bankruptcy and Unnecessary Jail Time

BOSTON, MA--(Marketwire - September 11, 2009) - Massachusetts residents from around the commonwealth will have a chance to share their alimony horror stories to the Joint Committee of the Judiciary, starting at 1:00pm on September 17, 2009, at the Massachusetts State House, room B1. Much of the testimony will come from members of the group Massachusetts Alimony Reform.

Many of the people testifying have been forced into bankruptcy and spent time in jail because of these outdated laws that do not take into consideration a person's finances due to economic conditions, poor health, downturns in business and other variables that can limit a person's ability to earn adequate income to pay an alimony obligation. Judges, according to many testifying, are consistently inflexible and intolerant of these everyday life changes that affect a person's income.

It is the position of Massachusetts Alimony Reform and others looking for a change in these laws not to abolish alimony, but to reform the current laws on the books that allow for a lifetime of alimony regardless of personal finances or situations. Currently court decisions are based on outdated "case law" that awarded alimony for punitive reasons. Massachusetts is now a "no fault" divorce state and reform is needed to provide structure and guidelines for predictability and consistency in court decisions.

Current laws discourage the recipient from supporting themselves, discourage a payer from working to capacity, and discourages marriage of divorced paying ex-spouses. Many understand that some ex-spouses need short-term maintenance, help with job training, and temporary support. The proposed bill takes these into account.

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 House Bill 1785 aims to modify the existing and outdated alimony laws in Massachusetts.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.

The bill among other things changes the outdated Massachusetts alimony laws in a number of very significant ways including:

--  Puts duration of alimony to one-half of the length of the entire
    marriage, or maximum 12 years.
--  Allows the payer the right to retire by ending alimony upon retirement
    age as defined in Title II, section 216, of the Social Security Act (42 USC
    416.)
--  Takes into consideration the marketable skills of a spouse and
    assistance needed with employment counseling and training
--  Takes away any consideration of a "Second Spouse's" income in
    determining alimony upon modification
    

Many of the residents that will address the committee regarding alimony reform are women who are the second wives of husbands once divorced. Many of the women's income is included by the court in establishing the amount required to provide support for their present husband's first wives who refuse to support themselves; something the proposed legislation would change.


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