The week of August 18th, the MA House of Representatives vote to approve a bill that will change the Commonwealth’s alimony rules. The new law establishes guidelines for setting alimony payments and does away with the ability of judges to approve “lifetime alimony.”
Under the new law, the length of alimony is dependent on the length of the marriage, and in most cases, ends at the age of retirement. In the context of the proposed statute, retirement is defined as when one would qualify for full benefits under social security. This distinction needs to be made so as not to confuse someone into thinking that early retirement would qualify for termination of alimony. In the past, judges had discretion to consider a variety of factors, including assets and employment status.
The proposed law also proposed new types of alimony including “transitional alimony” which would occur when a spouse needs temporary assistance or job training. Also proposed in the law is “reimbursement alimony” which would be for repayment of money spent on helping a spouse through school or training while married.
The new law would not change alimony rulings already in place but it would allow divorced parties to ask for alimony modifications. If approved by the Senate, this new law is sure to result in more consistent alimony rulings throughout the state, while taking discretion away from judges and creating new forms of alimony.
The Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act (MMLA) guarantees eligible employees 8 weeks of unpaid leave for giving birth, adopting a child under the age of 18, or adopting a child under the age of 23, if the child is mentally or physically disabled. The bounds of this legislation and maternity rights in general were recently challenged in the case of Global NAPs v. Awiszus.
In Awiszus, an employee-plaintiff became pregnant and informed her supervisor of her intention to utilize her guaranteed 8 weeks of unpaid maternity leave. Her employer promised her an additional 3 weeks of unpaid leave if she required a Cesarean section. The employee required a Cesarean section and tried to return to work after taking 11 weeks of unpaid leave. The employer reneged on its promise and informed the employee that she no longer had a job. The employee sued and was awarded compensatory and punitive damages.
The decision was appealed to the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) where they overturned the lower court’s decision. Specifically, the SJC held that the employee "was not entitled to the protections afforded by the MMLA, given that she was absent from employment for more than eight weeks." The SJC noted, however, that the employer's broken promise may give rise to a claim "for breach of contract."
In light of the Awiszus decision, employees need to be sure that they understand their rights under the MMLA. Employees should not assume that verbal commitments from employers that claim to extend their rights under MMLA actually give the employee any addition rights beyond those that would exist in an ordinary contract. The SJC has clearly stated that employees who rely solely on the word of an employer that promises more maternity leave than the MMLA guarantees can only seek a breach of contract remedy.
Balancing a parent's need to know what a child says to his therapist against a child's need to trust the confidentiality of what he tells that therapist is a sticky issue. This video will help you understand the implications of your decision. Michael J. Grilli, MGrilli@BaconWilson.com, 413.781.0560
We have repaired the damage caused by the tornado and restored full parking in our lot. We are back to business as usual on Friday June 3. There is no need to check with your attorney before coming to your appointment.
Thank you for your understanding during our repairs on Thursday. Please use caution, as some streets in Springfield may remain blocked.
2011 may bring about a radical change in the alimony laws in Massachusetts. In MA, short-term marriages can result in lifetime alimony obligations, and legislation is pending to change that to a definitive time frame. This video reviews the pending legislation. Michael J. Grilli, Esq. 413.781.0560, MGrilli@BaconWilson.com
Many factors come into play when a court considers spousal support, including need, ability to pay, and children. Every case is different but this video will help you understand the variables. Michael J. Grilli, Esq, 413.781.0560, MGrilli@BaconWilson.com
Collaborative law brings in professionals from many specialties to assist in mutually beneficial resolution. This is becoming an increasingly popular method of divorcing, as it assures both parties that there is an expectation of collaboration to achieve a respectful result. Julie A, Dialessi-Lafley, Esq. 413.781.0560, JDialessi-Lafley@BaconWilson.com
Massachusetts case law is very clear about the choices parents make with respect to grandparents' relationships with their grandchildren. This video may help you understand what your rights are as a grandparent. MIchael J. Grilli, Esq. 413.781.0560, MGrilli@BaconWilson.com