My co-worker was telling me that his alimony was reduced this year because of some new legislation. How do I know if I am eligible for something similar?
Let’s Make a (better) Deal
Based on the new Alimony Reform Act, which was effective March 1, 2012, the court has the power to make changes to existing and new alimony. Within the new Alimony Reform Act, there are three major changes:
- Alimony can be reduced, suspended, or terminated if the recipient cohabitates for more than three months;
- Alimony is terminated when the person paying reaches retirement age;
- Alimony is no longer a lifetime obligation and the duration is determined by the length of the marriage.
Since you already have an obligation to pay alimony, you might be able to change the amount or duration of that obligation if your former wife is cohabitating, if you’ve reached retirement age, or if the duration of your alimony is now shorter as it is now calculated in relation to the length of your marriage. If you fall into any of these categories you might have a basis to file a Complaint for Modification.
Each of these three categories has some quirks that warrant a conversation with a qualified attorney to determine whether you qualify.
Grossman & Associates, Ltd.
Newton & Nantucket
I am in the middle of a divorce and I can barely stand talking to my soon-to-be ex-spouse. How should I plan for my children’s schedules?
Solo in Salem
The Parenting Plan negotiated between divorcing parties is a delicate part of the process, influenced by work schedules, children’s needs and activities, finances and distance. It is best to keep the schedules as “normal” as possible, meaning that as little as possible should change, and deference should be given to existing activities and schedules. The best way for parents to communicate is by text or email if they cannot be civil speaking with one another. If necessary, both parents can agree to use a Parenting Coordinator, who is used to help make parenting decisions when the parents cannot agree. Co-parenting while divorcing, and even after the divorce, is very challenging. The best co-parents are able to set aside their emotional and financial differences for the joint purpose of raising well-adjusted and happy children.
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My spouse is more involved in the parenting process. I’m worried I won’t get to see my kids as much as I want to if we get a divorce. How will the court determined custody of our children?
Busy in Brookline
If there is a custody battle, judges use the standard of “best interest of the child” when determining the custodial parent. There are two kinds of custody: legal and physical custody. Unless there are extreme circumstances both parents typically share legal custody. Primary physical custody suggests the location where the children primarily reside, which often informs the choice of school systems. The terms primary physical custody and visitation are less often used and more recently have been replaced by the expression “Parenting Plan” which outlines the times each parent spends with the children.
Sometimes one side or the other will request that a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) is appointed by the judge to determine which parent is better suited as the custodial parent. The GAL interviews the parents and other collaterals, such as doctors and teachers, writes a report, and makes a recommendation to the judge. As the judge will not meet or interview the children, the GAL is effectively acting as the judge’s eyes and ears by conveying observations and facts in the report, so the judge can make the final custody decision.
Hindell S. Grossman, Esq.
Grossman & Associates, Ltd.