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Showing posts from January, 2015

Ditching the Briefcase for a Backpack - The Tom Bihn Synapse 25

In 2012 we sent our office manager (and now recently trained mediator),  Melissa Day , to the ABA Tech Show with one mission:  bring back a plan for transitioning our office to a paperless office.  We have discovered that in the legal business this is never a complete process, but an ongoing mission.  Becoming a paperless office requires finding the right balance with clients and other professionals who aren't ready to take that leap, as well as constantly reevaluating the technology we use. Three years later, it is probably the most important practice management decision we've made, and we're still learning all of the ways it impacts our office.  For the most part, we believe having everything stored electronically gives us more flexibility with our client interactions, storage options, backup, and recently I took a second look at that most iconic of business/lawyer technology: the briefcase. Without Briefs I Don't need a Briefcase! While briefcases have evolv

Can I Modify my Alimony? Updated Flowchart.

The SJC reached a decision on 1/30/2015 on three cases that interpreted the modification provisions of the Alimony Reform Act.  The SJC disagreed with our prior interpretation and decided that the provisions on retirement age and cohabitation can not be read retroactively.  To read more on these decisions check out our post here:  Lifetime Alimony is Back (for some)! - Chin v. Merriot . If your case is a post March 1, 2012 case then all of the Act's provisions apply to you and your case would be modifiable pursuant to the terms of your Judgment read in conjunction with all provisions of the Act.  The following flow-chart depicts the decision tree for determining whether you qualify for a modification of a Massachusetts alimony order under The Alimony Reform Act of 2011 if your original divorce was completed prior to March 1, 2012: You may reprint or distribute this Infographic on your website so long as the copyright and contact information for Kelsey & Trask, P.C. rema

Lifetime Alimony is Back (for some)! - Chin v. Merriot

Three months ago we told you about three very important pending cases that were argued before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, all three having to do with the issue of alimony modification. Today, the SJC released their decision on these three cases ( Chin v. Merriot , Rodman v. Rodman , and Doktor v. Doktor ) and in doing so they have created two clearly separate classes of alimony cases: those cases that were decided prior to March 1, 2012 and those that were decided after March 1, 2012. On March 1, 2012, the Alimony Reform Act took effect, and it included limits on the amount and duration of alimony orders going forward.  It was the law before the Act, and still is, after the Act, that alimony orders which are merged into the Judgment are modifiable if there has been a material and significant change in circumstances.  The Act also provides that the duration of old orders can be modified based solely on the "durational limits" in the new Act, even if there

Let the Judge Decide! - The End of Conflict or Just the Beginning?

"Let the Judge Decide!"   How often have I heard that in my career as a divorce attorney and mediator?  Too many times to count. In many cases, when a spouse or their attorney feels that they are unable to reach an agreement with the other side, they simply decide to put the issue to the Judge.  After all, that's the Judge's job.  The whole reason we have a civil legal system is to resolve disputes in a civilized way between adults, but that system is far from perfect. Have you really been told the truth about what it means to "let the Judge decide?" The Probate and Family Court as a division of the trial court is an (almost) free service available to all members of the public over whom they have jurisdiction.  They will not provide you with a free attorney in most cases, but there are free law libraries throughout the state, and the court will provide you with the necessary forms and an interpreter if you have the need.  If you have a civil disput

Appeals Court confirms Survived Agreements are not Modifiable, even under the Alimony Reform Act: Lalchandani v. Roddy

This post written in collaboration with Jason V. Owens, Esq. of Stevenson & Lynch, P.C. The Appeals Court recently decided another alimony modification case, Lalchandani v. Roddy (AC 13-P-1988) , but don't get excited.  The case doesn't contain any revelations.  The issue presented in Lalchandani v. Roddy is whether a husband who has reached federal retirement age can seek to terminate his alimony obligation, despite a  survival clause prohibiting modification in a divorce agreement , where the parties subsequently agreed to reduce the husband's alimony after the divorce.  In this case, the flaw in the husband’s argument was easy to spot: the modification agreement that the parties entered after the divorce also contained a survival clause that prohibited any further reduction in the alimony unless husband becomes “totally disabled such that he is completely prevented from working”. Since, the Alimony Reform Act is quite clear that surviving alimony provisions

How does a second job affect child support or alimony?

In Massachusetts, both the child support guidelines and the alimony statute address second job income.  One key question for both child support and alimony is determining when the additional income started. The definition of income for both child support and alimony starts the same.   M.G.L. Chapter 208 Section 53b  states (with some limitation) that income for determining alimony shall be defined as set forth in the Massachusetts child support guidelines.  The child support guidelines define income as "gross income from whatever source regardless of whether that income is recognized by the Internal Revenue Code or reported to the Internal Revenue Service or state Department of Revenue or other taxing authority."  The guidelines then go on to list numerous types of income that would be included. In the child support guidelines, second job and overtime income are addressed immediately after the definition of income and start with the presumption that the income is incl