Question: Does Length of the Marriage (for Alimony) =
Length of the Marriage (for Property Division)?
The Alimony Reform Act defines length of the marriage as:
"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 duly filed in a court of the commonwealth or another court with jurisdiction to terminate the marriage; provided, however, that the court may increase the length of the marriage if there is evidence that the parties’ economic marital partnership began during their cohabitation period prior to the marriage." M.G.L. c. 208 § 48The Property Division statute lists "length of the marriage" as one of the numerous factors that the court shall consider "in fixing the nature and value of the property, if any, to be so assigned" from one party to the other. See M.G.L. c. 208 § 34
If these are the same, then property acquired after the date of filing a divorce complaint would not be part of the property division discussion. That was the argument the husband was making in
The Appeals Court disagreed and even though the name of the case is not simple, the court's theory is pretty straightforward: "Nothing in the language of § 48 (or for that matter, in the language of the Alimony Reform Act more generally) indicates or suggests that its definitions are to be exported beyond §§ 49 through 55." Which essentially means that longstanding case law regarding property acquired after the Complaint for Divorce filing still stands, and the Judge has discretion to divide that property in consideration of all the § 34 factors.