Divorce and Alimony: State-By-State Reform, Massachusetts Edition

divorce cake

divorce cake

The Wall Street Journal has a great report on the abusive practices of Massachusetts family courts, and a bill that would reform the system and end the presumption of permanent alimony:

Paul and Theresa Taylor were married for 17 years. He was an engineer for Boston’s public-works department, while she worked in accounting at a publishing company. They had three children, a weekend cottage on the bay and a house in the suburbs, on a leafy street called Cranberry Lane. In 1982, when they got divorced, the split was amicable. She got the family home; he got the second home. Both agreed “to waive any right to past, present or future alimony.”

But recently, more than two decades after the divorce, Ms. Taylor, 64, told a Massachusetts judge she had no job, retirement savings or health insurance. Earlier this year, the judge ordered Mr. Taylor, now 68 and remarried, to pay $400 per week to support his ex-wife.

“This is insane,” Mr. Taylor says, adding that the payments cut his after-tax pension by more than one-third. “Someone can just come back 25 years later and say, ‘My life went down the toilet, and you’re doing good—so now I want some of your money’?”

It seems state law allows a judge to reopen a long-settled agreement if the judge believes the party asking for support might otherwise become an expense to the state.

In Massachusetts a bill backed by a group called “Reform Massachusetts Alimony Laws Now!” has 72 sponsors and would require a spouse receiving alimony to become self-sufficient, or attempt to, after a reasonable time. That would establish alimony as a temporary payment instead of a permanent entitlement, as is often the case now….

The House bill would end the currently common practice of using the assets of a second spouse to determine the ability of a person to pay alimony. Alimony could only be adjusted upward for cost-of-living increases, and alimony obligations would end upon the retirement of the payer, though judges would still have the flexibility to take into account special circumstances.

As it stands currently, in MA as well as some other states, the spouse paying alimony can be asked to pay more if he (or, rarely, she) marries another earner, while the spouse receiving alimony is rarely cut off for cohabiting with a high earner. As someone points out, even this reform bill still gives judges discretion to find a retired person liable for continued alimony payments. What this means is that once you have married, the state takes the power to take your assets when it finds your ex-partner needs them, and the costs of going to court to change alimony or support orders is many thousands of dollars and possibly years of delay. Divorce attorneys make a lot of money from the system as it is, and are quietly resisting reform:

Opponents of the bill say it may not adequately protect those who rely on alimony payments. Massachusetts State Sen. Cynthia Stone Creem, a Democrat and a divorce lawyer who co-chairs the joint judiciary committee, has called for a commission to study all the alimony legislation, a move that could delay a vote until next summer. Sen. Stone Creem filed her own bill, which would modify the state’s law slightly, giving judges greater leeway in setting the duration of alimony payments.

In Florida:

In April, for example, Palm Beach County Circuit Court Judge David French prevailed following a 16-year battle to stop or reduce his alimony payments. A state appeals court ruled that Mr. French should not be forced to pay $3,400 a month to his ex-wife, who has lived for nearly 20 years with another man. The judge ordered the ex-wife to pay Mr. French $151,000, the amount she had received from him since he filed a previous case in 2005. Ms. French’s lawyer did not return a call seeking comment. Amy Shield, Mr. French’s lawyer, said he was pleased with the decision.

And the rare case of an ex-husband receiving alimony and abusing the privilege:

Last month, Massachusetts representatives heard testimony from Brenda Caggiano, a 70-year-old retired first-grade teacher who supports her ex-husband, Robert, a certified public accountant. When the Caggianos divorced in 2003, they split their assets. He got their home on Cape Cod. She got their home in a Boston suburb, and paid him the $57,000 difference in the value of the homes.

Ms. Caggiano earned more at the time, so the court ordered her to pay $125 in weekly alimony until her death or her former husband’s remarriage. Since Massachusetts is a “no-fault” divorce state, it made no difference that it was, as both parties acknowledge, Mr. Caggiano who left home.

Ms. Caggiano says she’s living pension-check-to-pension-check and has had to tap a home-equity line of credit to fix her roof. “It’s a disgrace that this man is taking my money when he’s perfectly capable of supporting himself,” she says.

Mr. Caggiano, who is 68, said in an interview he has no mortgage and that his girlfriend, who works full-time, has moved in. He says the couple recently traveled to Italy, and that he spent $60,000 to install hardwood floors, granite countertops and big windows “to get a beautiful view of the water.” He keeps his accounting practice to a few clients: “I’m not going out there trying to develop new business.”

It’s well past time to recognize that the victories of feminism that equalized access to jobs and professions imply that men and women who marry should not be yoked together for life by mutual obligation after divorce. The state’s role in this system is parasitic and harmful, creating incentives not to work or remarry for the alimony receiver, and putting crushing financial loads on the payer. The system’s cost and lack of flexibility hurt everyone. Reform should include an absence of any obligation to support an ex-spouse (unless provided for by their marriage contract or pre-nup) and presumed equal custody and equal child support obligations unless it can be shown a parent is unfit.

Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples OrganizationsDeath by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

[From Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations,  available now in Kindle and trade paperback.]

The first review is in: by Elmer T. Jones, author of The Employment Game. Here’s the condensed version; view the entire review here.

Corporate HR Scrambles to Halt Publication of “Death by HR”

Nobody gets a job through HR. The purpose of HR is to protect their parent organization against lawsuits for running afoul of the government’s diversity extortion bureaus. HR kills companies by blanketing industry with onerous gender and race labor compliance rules and forcing companies to hire useless HR staff to process the associated paperwork… a tour de force… carefully explains to CEOs how HR poisons their companies and what steps they may take to marginalize this threat… It is time to turn the tide against this madness, and Death by HR is an important research tool… All CEOs should read this book. If you are a mere worker drone but care about your company, you should forward an anonymous copy to him.


More on Divorce, Marriage, and Mateseeking

Marriages Happening Late, Are Good for You
Monogamy and Relationship Failure; “Love Illuminated”
“Millionaire Matchmaker”
More reasons to find a good partner: lower heart disease!
“Princeton Mom” Susan Patton: “Marry Smart” not so smart
“Blue Valentine”
“All the Taken Men are Best” – why women poach married men….
“Marriage Rate Lowest in a Century”
Making Divorce Hard to Strengthen Marriages?
Student Loan Debt: Problems in Divorce
“The Upside of ‘Marrying Down’”
The High Cost of Divorce
Separate Beds Save Marriages?
Marital Discord Linked to Depression
Marriage Contracts: Give People More Legal Options
Older Couples Avoiding Marriage For Financial Reasons
Divorced Men 8 Times as Likely to Commit Suicide as Divorced Women
Vox Charts Millennial Marriage Depression
What’s the Matter with Marriage?
Life Is Unfair! The Great Chain of Dysfunction Ends With You.
Leftover Women: The Chinese Scene
Constant Arguing Can Be Deadly…
“If a fraught relationship significantly shortens your life, are you better off alone?
“Divorce in America: Who Really Wants Out and Why”
View Marriage as a Private Contract?
“It’s up there with ‘Men Are From Mars’ and ‘The Road Less Travelled’”
Free Love, eHarmony, Matchmaking Pseudoscience
Love Songs of the Secure Attachment Type
“The New ‘I Do’”
Unrealistic Expectations: Liberal Arts Woman and Amazon Men
Mark Manson’s “Six Healthy Relationship Habits”
“The Science of Happily Ever After” – Couples Communications
Free Dating Sites: Which Have Attachment Type Screening?
Dating Pool Danger: Harder to Find Good Partners After 30
Mate-Seeking: The Science of Finding Your Best Partner
Perfect Soulmates or Fellow Travelers: Being Happy Depends on Perspective
No Marriage, Please: Cohabiting Taking Over
“Marriage Markets” – Marriage Beyond Our Means?
Rules for Relationships: Realism and Empathy
Limerence vs. Love
The “Fairy Tale” Myth: Both False and Destructive
When to Break Up or Divorce? The Economic View
“Why Are Great Husbands Being Abandoned?”
Divorce and Alimony: State-By-State Reform, Massachusetts Edition
“Sliding” Into Marriage, Small Weddings Associated with Poor Outcomes
Subconscious Positivity Predicts Marriage Success…
Why We Are Attracted to Bad Partners (Who Resemble a Parent)

For more on family law, Red Pill men, and modern feminists:

Divorced Men 8 Times as Likely to Commit Suicide as Divorced Women
Life Is Unfair! The Militant Red Pill Movement
Leftover Women: The Chinese Scene
“Divorce in America: Who Really Wants Out and Why”
View Marriage as a Private Contract?
Madmen, Red Pill, and Social Justice Wars
Unrealistic Expectations: Liberal Arts Woman and Amazon Men
Stable is Boring? “Psychology Today” Article on Bad Boyfriends
Ross Douthat on Unstable Families and Culture
Ev Psych: Parental Preferences in Partners
Purge: the Feminist Grievance Bubble
The Social Decay of Black Neighborhoods (And Yours!)
Modern Feminism: Victim-Based Special Pleading
Stereotype Inaccuracy: False Dichotomies
Real-Life “Hunger Games”: Soft Oppression Destroys the Poor
Red Pill Women — Female MRAs
Why Did Black Crime Syndicates Fail to Go Legit?
The “Fairy Tale” Myth: Both False and Destructive
Feminism’s Heritage: Freedom vs. Special Protections
Evolve or Die: Survival Value of the Feminine Imperative
“Why Are Great Husbands Being Abandoned?”
Reading “50 Shades of Grey” Gives You Anorexia and an Abusive Partner!
Why We Are Attracted to Bad Partners (Who Resemble a Parent)
Gaming and Science Fiction: Social Justice Warriors Strike Again
Culture Wars: Peace Through Limited Government


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