Part 1

By the street of by and by, one arrives at the house of never.

In this season of marriage equality for same sex couples (!), and the never-ending roil of U.S. race relations, we have been reading An Idea Whose Time Has Come, by Todd S. Purdum. The author chronicles the birth of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which Congress passed and President Johnson signed 50 years ago this month. We have commented before in our blog that the recognition of gay and lesbians’ rights to marry was breathtakingly fast – for everyone except the people directly involved: those who waited and hoped to marry a life partner, with the result hanging in the political balance.

Miguel de Cervantes captured this notion long before, in the quotation above. Mr. Purdum attributed a slight variation of it to New York Representative Emmanuel Celler, during House debate of the Senate’s amended version of HR 7152 (produced by the defeat of a 3-month southern and largely Democratic filibuster). Cervantes resonates today, as much as in 1964, with this country’s continuing struggle with the basic rights of citizens.

As South Carolina recognizes symbolically that the civil war is over, it pains us that it took a massacre of nine praying people, to make it happen. We also long for the return of an era when large bi-partisan majorities in Congress can expand, rather than constrict, rights. I

In too many ways, we, in the United States, are still on the street of by and by; and it is worthwhile to remember the many generations who have only known the house of never.

Part 2

Is it fair to pay ‘ex’ alimony twice as long as unions’ duration

This Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly July 6th headline announced a letter from a Hampshire County litigant, in which the writer bemoaned a recent modification judgment that compels him to pay alimony beyond the ARA’s durational limit. In 2016, Emmett Baraclow will have been paying alimony for twice the length of the parties’ marriage. Mr. Baraclow admits and asks:

    “Yes, my ex-wife needs financial support. But would it not be just to impose a legal obligation to provide that support on her parents, siblings or children?”

We have read the trial court decision; and it holds together. Under prevailing law, the result was probably both correct and inevitable. But, Mr. Barcalow’s question is thought provoking nonetheless. While the legal answer to his question is plainly “no,” in a different culture the answer might be very different.

Part 3

Today’s Guest

We receive a weekly newsletter from John O’Hara of Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation, who has helped many of our mediation clients in grappling with the tricky issues of refinancing and new home purchases for divorcing spouses, especially for support recipients. We have asked John for permission to reproduce a recent issue here about home financing after divorce. It is simple, well put and can be useful for anyone in the “business”. John is always happy to help. His email address is: johno@fairwaymc.com.

Part 4

The Blog

It has been a quiet quarter on the appellate alimony front (we all needed a breather). So, we have recently focused on a variety of issues, from mandatory mediation to the vitality of mediation itself; to arbitration, child support and our gripes with Rule 1:28. Three of these are featured below, and as always, they are a portals to our entire blog offering. Please feel free to root around at levinedisputeresolution.com/divorce-mediation-blog/ and let us know what you think!

Part 5


We are working this summer, except for some vacation and some very welcome long weekends. We continue to teach, write and luxuriate in our numerous and growing brood of grandchildren. Mid-way through our third year here, we still marvel at our good fortune to share this experience with each other, and with you.

Have a great summer.

Bill and Chouteau

Making Decisions about Your Home During Divorce

A couple’s home is often their largest asset, and is central to many of the decisions being made throughout the divorce process. What to do with the family home is often one of the more emotionally challenging issues, packed with legal and financial ramifications.

Those who are contemplating a divorce should seek the help of an experienced loan professional as part of their preliminary process to better understand the issues related to their home, including: who can afford the home; how is child/spousal support counted as income; refinancing prior to divorce; income verification if returning to work after period of unemployment; and related documentation required for loan applications. read more...

Mandatory Mediation is an Oxymoron that the Appeals Court Gets! (At least when the parties have to pay) Ventrice v. Ventrice


Recently, a pair of “transformative” mediators claimed that without mandatory mediation, the pre-destined role of mediators as apostles of self-determination will never be fulfilled. We took the authors to task in the Winter 2015 Issue of the Massachusetts Council on Family Mediations’ Family Mediation Quarterly for many reasons, including this proposition. Putting aside the considerable irony that practitioners who seek to transform relationships, not content to merely settle disputes, think they can do so when people are compelled to pay them to do it, we are pleased to see that the Massachusetts Appeals Court is not similarly deluded. read more...

Matrimonial Arbitration is the Not Credit Card Kind


In the May 25th Opinion page of The Boston Globe, Law Professor Jeff Sovern wrote convincingly that arbitration, the kind that appears in the very small print of credit card agreements should be banned as unfair and anti-consumer. Thinking back to law school the term “contract of adhesion” comes to mind, where the commercially powerful victimizes the weak with terms on which the latter has no practical ability to negotiate.

But the piece also brings us back far more recent events, in which one of us attempted, over a period of nearly 10 years, to advance a proposed Family Law Arbitration Act, on behalf of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, through the pre-legislative stage. In trying to build support among the bar by endorsement of the Massachusetts and Boston Bar Associations, without which legislators will not consider sponsorship, Bill Levine spent parts of 3 separate years successfully obtaining approvals of the associations’ family law sections, only to founder when other sections had interests that viewed family law arbitration as if it emanated from the small print of similarly one-sided transactions. read more...

A Child Support Puzzlah: Martin v. Martin Part 1


The May 13, 2015 "unreported" decision of the Massachusetts Appeals Court, Martin v. Martin, has us scratching our head: it is a Puzzlah, as Tom & Ray used to say.

As always, this Rule 1:28 decision is sparse on facts, but they may be summarized as follows:

  1. In 2009, the husband/father agreed by stipulation/divorce judgment to pay 50% of all of his gross pre-tax income, including salary increases and bonuses, as child support; and that, at no time, would his total annual payment be less than that provided for in the Child Support Guidelines for the parties' (2) unemancipated children. read more...

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