781.708.4445

wmlevine@levinedisputeresolution.com

Divorce Mediation Blog

Another Rehabiliative Alimony Case Highlights Important Issues, But Muddles “Needs” Further Vedensky v. Vedensky – Part 2

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The New Year began with the January 2d release of an alimony case, Vedensky v. Vedensky, by the Massachusetts Appeals Court. In our last entry, we reviewed several important aspects of the case that the appellate court addressed clearly and helpfully. We suggested that they could have, and should have stopped there, as addressing the question of the Husband’s needs was unnecessary – and we say problematic - in the way that they chose to do it.

Every alimony case requires a determination of needs of the recipient. This was true under statutory and case law before the Alimony Reform Act (eff.3.1.12); and it is no less true now. In earlier blog entries, we expressed concern about the direction of previous ARA cases, Hassey and Zaleski, in particular, on the matter of needs

In this case, the trial court found that the husband’s expenses exceeded his reported income by $525 per week. Yet the judge ordered the wife to pay him $635 of weekly alimony. Since the appellate judges were reversing on the question of the wife’s income anyway (see our previous entry) they need not have addressed this issue at all. But, instead, the Appeals Court examined what they identified as “alimony beyond stated needs” and concluded that the trial judge was justified in exceeding the husband’s claim of needs presumably because the judge was imposing new uninsured medical expenses on the husband because his judgment mandated psychological treatment during the 2-year period of alimony.

If the judge increased the husband’s expenses, that could certainly translate into higher need; and, the husband’s expenses then might be higher than that which he, himself, had claimed. In this highly unusual context, the Appeals Court’s conclusion that “A judge…is not bound strictly by the stated needs of an alimony recipient” is fair enough, but not so as a general statement of principle. In the critical early period of ARA case development, we fear that this broad brush will come back to the courts as a lever to further distance alimony determinations from the historical anchor of needs. In most cases most of the time, litigants should not expect that their alimony results will exceed their own, often self-serving, assessments of need; and the appellate courts should not imply otherwise.

In our last blog entry, we speculated on the potential impact of having general alimony law decided so heavily in short term rehabilitative alimony cases, and we worry that this case may be one example of that effect.



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



Delivered by FeedBurner

other articles


recent posts


tags

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