Reminder: On October 1, 2018,
LDRC moved its Boston Area office to:

858 Washington Street, Suite 200 Dedham, MA 02026

Part 1:
The Other Shoe Has Dropped

Well, we all survived the Great Alimony Scare of 2018, scrambling to get clients over the finish line with qualifying deals before the ball dropped on New Year’s Eve. It was pretty intense, I have to say. Some parties made it and others did not. And, life goes on.

So now we are on to the next phase: fixing the orders that got into court timely but came out or will come out with 2019 dates on them despite the parties’ and counsel’s efforts to obtain court approvals in 2018; amending temporary order and/or agreements to which parties did agree on time, but in which they dropped numbers that were not quite fully baked; incorporating temporary orders into final agreements, hopefully without losing future deductibility; the first rounds of tax filings with foreign looking forms and schedules; and dealing with a state alimony statute, with or without the help of the legislature, made instantly lame by the change in federal tax law,

And that is just the alimony part of TCJA 2017…

Part 2:
Video Mediation

Lately, I’ve need doing quite a bit of work on video: mediations with and without counsel; and introductory/arbitration/special master conferences with parties and/or counsel. It is efficient, flexible and just a bit removed from the emotions of the “scene”. All good, so far. I am curious to hear from those of you who may be doing the same thing, wondering about the challenges that you are experiencing, thus far. Email me or give me a call and let me know.

Part 3:

Today, we share two guest pieces. First, attorney Harry Margolis of Margolis & Bloom, presents a really neat summary of Massachusetts Estate Tax law. It is important to not lose sight of the fact that even though only the most-wealthy families are subject to federal estate tax law, that is not the case locally. Harry makes easy what otherwise makes your hair hurt to parse out of original sources.

We also present Gosule, Butkus & Jesson LLP’s David Goodman, CPA, with his interesting take on the fate of alimony trusts post the TCJA 2017 alimony deductibility repeal. They aren’t common and a few may just survive the change of federal law, yet.

Thanks Harry & David, for your fruitful writings. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist so closely after the holidays.)

Part 3:
The Blog

Finally, in this fact-free and values-challenged era, I share two blog entries from the end of 2018, that I think of as the Bad Boys Good News pairing. In the recent cases of Dilanian and Boblis v. Costa, litigants threw it all against the wall in the Probate Court, and were, in each case, called on the carpet and told to knock it off, by both a trial judge, and in the Appeals Court. The back stories are disheartening but the courts’ non-nonsense approaches equally encouraging.

As always, these are merely an introduction to the blog. Please feel free to rummage around once you have entered.

Happy, healthy New Year to you all.


A Primer on the Massachusetts Estate Tax

By Harry S. Margolis

While very few estates are subject to a federal estate tax, which only applies to those exceeding $11.2 million (in 2018), many more are subject to the Massachusetts estate tax for which the threshold is $1 million. While the Massachusetts estate tax rate is not nearly as high as the federal rate, which is 40%, many clients still prefer to take steps to reduce or eliminate the estate tax their heirs will have to pay. Read more...

The Future of Alimony Trusts under TCJA

By David H. Goodman, CPA/CFF/ABV, CVA

Congress passed, and the President signed, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) in December 2017. Under TCJA, alimony paid under a separation agreement entered into after December 31, 2018 will no longer deductible to the payer or taxable to the recipient . Section 682 of the Internal Revenue Code is also repealed. Section 682 allowed a spouse to be a beneficiary of a trust created by a grantor spouse under a decree o f divorce or separate maintenance, or a written separation agreement. A trust created for this purpose is commonly referred to as an alimony trust. Read more...

“Thanks for your service, son. Now, about that child support…” Bobblis v. Costa


I’ve drafted a lot of separation agreements over the years. I have also been accused, on occasion, of trying to anticipate some pretty unlikely events. But I never considered the possibility that a child support payor might try to stop paying because his kid earned a college scholarship, let alone one that committed him to military service after graduation!


Instead of saying “congratulations, and thank you, son”, the father demanded retroactive termination of child support to the start of his son’s ROTC training, junior year, citing the “military enlistment” emancipation provision of the parties’ divorce agreement. And to think, Claire Booth Luce had never heard of the Bobblis case when she coined “No good deed goes unpunished”. Read more...

Can’t Blame a Guy for Trying, But the Courts Do their Job in Dilanian v. Dilanian


The recent decision, Dilanian v. Dilanian, from the Massachusetts Appeals Court describes a litany of unreliable evidence from which a trial judge drew negative inferences about the malfeasance of a divorce-litigant husband, finding that he tried to obscure and shelter both assets and income from his wife and from the court. The Appeals Court agreed with the Probate and Family Court judge, and upheld her decision.

The self-employed husband depressed his apparent income after the divorce filing, by decreasing his profit distributions and increasing his retained, undistributed earnings, without legitimate explanation. You can’t do that! Read more...

© 2019 Levine Dispute Resolution Center LLC. Dedham and Northampton, MA
781.708.4445 | 413.341.1017 | Email: wmlevine@levinedisputeresolution.com

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