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Showing posts from February, 2010

If my ex-spouse files for Bankruptcy, can they discharge support they owe?

We recently posted this answer on our Bankruptcy Blog and thought that it could be useful to our family law audience as well.

Under the current Bankruptcy Code, a debtor who files a Chapter 7 bankruptcy will not receive a discharge from debts defined in paragraph 5 of 11 U.S.C. § 523(a) as "domestic support obligations" or debts under 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(15) owed "to a spouse, former spouse, or child of the debtor and not of the kind described in paragraph (5) that is incurred by the debtor in the course of a divorce or separation or in connection with a separation agreement, divorce decree or other order of a court of record, or a determination made in accordance with State or territorial law by a governmental unit."

"Domestic support obligations" are defined by 11 U.S.C. § 101(14A) as debts "in the nature of alimony, maintenance, or support" owed to a spouse, former spouse, or child.

These limitations on dischargability therefore apply to both c…

Mass Attorney General asking Federal Judge to declare DOMA unconstitutional.

According to a Boston Globe article, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley filed a request with the U.S. District Court last Thursday, February 19, 2010, to rule on the constitutionality of the Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The reasoning behind the A.G.'s request is that DOMA forces Massachusetts to discriminate against same-sex spouses in order to maintain certain federal funding for programs like Medicaid and Veteran's burials.
These are only two examples of how DOMA affects same-sex spouses. Despite Massachusetts law granting same-sex couples the right to marry, there are Federal benefits that traditional spouses enjoy which same-sex couples do not because of DOMA. Many of these differences are related to tax benefits for spouses. For example, spouses can transfer property between each other without certain tax consequences where non-spouses cannot.
This can be a particularly difficult issue in same-sex divorces as it relates to retirement accounts. …

It's a Trap!: The Massachusetts Alimony Debate

UPDATE: There is pending legislation for major changes to the alimony statute in Massachusetts. The Alimony Reform Act of 2011 was filed on January 18, 2011 and you can learn more about the Act at MassAlimonyFormula.com or in our recent blog post highlighting the differences between the bill and the current law.

Because of my involvement in the creation of the Divorce Spousal Support Calculator I am often asked if I think alimony in Massachusetts is fair.

Of course, this is a loaded question, and so my typical answer is that nothing in the law is "fair", it is simply our best efforts to be "fair and equitable." In creating the Calculator, however, I have already expressed a desire for greater consistency. This in itself is an admission that I would like to see improvement in the current statute.

Many others have expressed there displeasure with the current statute as well. As a result there is an ongoing (and at times heated) debate in Massachusetts right now over …

Divorce Spousal Support Calculator: An Alimony Formula Resource

UPDATE: There is pending legislation for major changes to the alimony statute in Massachusetts. The Alimony Reform Act of 2011 was filed on January 18, 2011 and you can learn more about the Act at MassAlimonyFormula.com or in our recent blog post highlighting the differences between the bill and the current law.

The Stevenson-Kelsey Spousal Support Calculator has been renamed. It will now be known as the Divorce Spousal Support Calculator: An Alimony Formula Resource.

We are hoping that this name change will reflect our intention that the calculator be used by everyone to evaluate the reasonableness of alimony proposals in divorce cases. In keeping with that goal, we have also updated the latest calculator worksheet and article to include statutes from both Texas and Maine relating to alimony.

In addition, the article contains reference to the latest debate in Massachusetts surrounding a House and Senate bill both proposing changes to the current Massachusetts statute relating to ali…

What is LAR and why you should care!

Limited Assistance Represetation (also called "unbundling" or "LAR") is a program that allows a lawyer to provide partial services to a client, limiting the attorney's representation to only a specific matter while the client mangages the remainder of the case. On May 1, 2009, the Supreme Judicial Court issued a press release that LAR is now permitted in all trial court departments in Massachusetts.

In Famly Law, this often means that the lawyer either assists in the preparation of court pleadings, but doesn't go to court, or agrees to only go to court for specific events. Limiting services in this way allows for greater predictability in the amount of time an attorney might spend working on your case. This predictability allows us to provide a flat fee for many family law related services.

The LAR program is an exception to the normal rules, in which attorneys file unlimited appearances and "ghostwriting" is frowned upon. Under the LAR program, &…

What is a Complaint for Modification?

A Complaint for Modification is the action by which you can request that the Court make a change to past Court Judgments. If the Orders that you want changed are only Temporary Orders then you must request a change by Motion.

A Complaint for Modification is the beginning of a new action and should only be used to change permanent orders which are called Judgments. To succeed on a Complaint for Modification you must prove two things: first you must prove that there has been a "significant material change in circumstances;" and second you must prove that the change in circumstances warrants a change in the Court's Order.

A "significant material change in circumstances" is a change in your life that is big enough to have an effect on the factors that related to the original Order of the Court. For example, if the Order that you want to change is a Child Support Order, then you must demonstrate that there has been a change to the factors that affect a Child Support…