Divorce Mediation Blog

The SJC Weighs in on Self-Adjusting Alimony Orders and Recipient “Need”: Young v. Young, Part 5

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

“What’s a judge to do?”

Levine Dispute Resolution - Alimony

In this entry, we consider a particular challenge that the trial judge will have on remand from the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) in Young v. Young, in grappling with her assessment of the wife’s “need” for alimony. The trial judge tried to quantify the wife’s “need” by the tangible costs thereof, a common means of doing so. But, it appears that the evidence thwarted the judge in doing so, as she bumped up against a too frequent phenomenon: incredible and incredibly rising expense claims on sequential Rule 401 financial statements during litigation.

During an 11-month span of the Young case, the wife’s claims of weekly expense rose a remarkable 44%, from $453,856 per year to $653,906!

We have seen this movie before, as lawyers, judge, special master and divorce arbitrator. While it is certainly challenging for parties to give dispositive expense information when Rule 410 requires a full statement within 45 days, or when a party files motions, just 10 days. Moreover, uncertainty about just what “need” means, can make presenting financial statement expense claims dicey for the preparer.

Yet, litigation strategy plays an undeniable role. And, strategy evolves..

As a result, the judge critically found that the wife lacked “…personal knowledge regarding her own expenses,” and that her financial statements were not “…an accurate reflection of her need.” The wife’s credibility shot, the judge avoided the quantification of need and, instead opted for an ill-fated percentage-of-income order.

So, where the judge simply disbelieved the wife, and where she did not, apparently, find other, more convincing evidence of the wife’s “need” in the trial record (presumably there was no expert “lifestyle” testimony, or none at least that the court found credible), how will she do so now, on remand?

Don’t bet against a Young v. Young II appellate case, when one of these spouses appeals the judgment after remand.

In our next entry, we will consider the role that financial complexity played in undermining the fate of the trial court decision.

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

Delivered by FeedBurner

other articles

recent posts


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