Current choices of the court docket of attraction to make clear the everlasting upkeep limits: Half 2 | Burns & Levinson LLP
In my last blog post, I discussed the Clement v Owens case, one of two recent appeals court rulings that further defined and refined the length of maintenance limits in Massachusetts under the Alimony Reform Act 2012. In this blog post I will focus on the second case, Clemence v. Sklenak, who dealt with the question of whether the in GL c. 208, section 49 (b), began on the day of the divorce decree (with the husband waiving past, present, and future alimony, except in certain circumstances) or as alimony based on an amending decree. The appellate court found that the duration restrictions began at the time the divorce decree was received, as the divorce decree provided for an initial “zero alimony supplement”.
In the Clemence case, the parties were married for approximately thirteen (13) years. In January 2017, a divorce decree was issued on the parties’ separation agreement. According to the terms of the parties’ separation agreement, the husband waived past, present and future alimony. The agreement also provided that the husband’s maintenance waiver was based on the receipt of a disproportionate share (60%) of the equity in the marital residence and additional real estate. His maintenance waiver was conditional on the sale of the marital home to an independent party for $ 725,000. The agreement stipulated that if the sale did not go as planned, the husband could file a complaint for amendment to claim maintenance from the wife. These terms merged with the divorce decree – meaning that they could be changed if circumstances changed.
In August 2017, after the marital home sold for just $ 433,000, contrary to the $ 725,000 envisaged in the parties’ separation agreement, the husband filed an amendment complaint to demand maintenance from the wife. After the trial, the woman was ordered to pay child support to the husband. The amending order provided that maintenance would last until October 2026, approximately 98 months after the date of the amending order, unless otherwise changed, terminated or suspended due to the death of a party, the remarriage of the husband or husband earlier Living together. When setting the general term maintenance limit in October 2026, the court treated the amending judgment as the initial general term maintenance decision. The woman appealed, alleging that the court wrongly used the date of the amending judgment instead of the divorce date as the starting point for the duration of the maintenance.
Citing the Buckley v. Buckley, 42 Mass. App. Ct. In Case 716 (1997), the appeals court agreed with the wife. As in Buckley, the divorce decree contained nisi express waivers of alimony in the past and present. For the purposes of the Maintenance Reform Act, these waivers were equivalent to a “zero dollar maintenance allowance” as each of the legal factors for a maintenance allowance was considered at the time of the divorce and it was agreed that no allowance was appropriate at the time.
Moreover, the husband’s conditional maintenance waiver, based on the sale of the marital home for a certain amount, was tantamount to establishing a substantial and substantial change in the circumstances that would enable the husband to claim maintenance from the wife. Establishing a major and major change in circumstances in and of itself shows that the divorce decree included an initial (albeit nil) allocation of general purpose alimony to start the clock at the perpetual alimony limits. The Court of Appeal in the Clemence case overturned the judgment of the court and ordered the duration to be shortened from October 2026 to March 2025, recognizing that the duration began at the time the divorce judgment was received and not at the time of the entry of the Change judgment.