Divorce Mediation Blog

Alimony: Double Dipping In a New Light?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Massachusetts appellate courts have long struggled with whether a “seeming[ly] unjust” double counting of income occurs when a trial judge divides property that includes a closely held business, values that business using an “income theory”, and then orders alimony to be paid from the same source. The cases boil down to a definite maybe, requiring a court to discern an unfair double dip from an acceptable one, including whether or not there are “separate parts” of the asset. A variety of circumstances could lead the fact-finder to different outcomes.

Now, alimony “reform” legislation (eff. 3/1/12) precludes the Court counting expected capital gains, interest or dividend income from any divided assets, as income for alimony computation. Does this settle the double dip question for all time and purposes? Is the judgmental task of fair or unfair double counting over?

We doubt that the business valuation question was squarely in mind of the legislators when they passed the alimony bill; but it seems inconceivable that the next time an appellate panel hears this issue that the business owner will not argue for a blanket exclusion of any business income for alimony computation purposes, citing the alimony statute. If the argument succeeds, and there is no other source of income to tap for the support of a dependent spouse, where does that leave the parties?

Settlement of one issue always seems to beget another.

Get e-mail notifications of new blog posts! Enter email address below.:

Delivered by FeedBurner

other articles

recent posts


family law Same Sex Marriage disputes alimony reform legislation divorce mediations family and probate law disputes Levine Dispute Resolution Center LLC family law arbitrator child support Uniform Arbitration Act Massachusetts alimony Baseball Baseball Arbitration annulment conciliation divorce litigation lawyers support orders med-arb fraud Family Law Arbitration Massachusetts Alimony Reform Act self-adjusting alimony Divorce Agreements family law arbitrators high-risk methodology Massachusetts divorce mediators family law mediation Massachusetts lawyers Boston divorce arbitrators mediation alimony Matrimonial Arbitration Levine Dispute Resolutions traditional negotiations rehabilitative alimony IRC §2704 mediator special master Massachusetts Obamacare MLB labor agreement pre-ARA alimony divorce agreement divorce arbitration alimony law mediators Self-adjusting alimony orders Cohabitation litigation Levine Dispute Resolution lawyer health coverage Major League Baseball Arbitration facilitated negotiations Massachusetts divorce lawyers private dispute resolution mediations divorce mediator The Seven Sins of Alimony lawyer-attended mediation DOMA divorced dispute resolution Alimony Reform Act divorce judgment arbitrator resolve disputes how baseball arbitration works divorce mediators Divorce divorce lawyers arbitration Chouteau Levine divorce and family law divorce process COLA health insurance Defense of Marriage Act Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly family mediation alimony statute LDRC Massachusetts alimony and child support divorce and family law mediators divorce arbitrator Baseball Players Levine Dispute Resolution Center med/arb family support divorce mediation arbitrators medical benefits Act Reforming Alimony in the Commonwealth SJC alimony orders General term alimony separation Child Support Guidelines