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


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