I was proud to learn that the prestigious Journal of the Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers has honored for its “exceptional ” quality my recent article published in their pages about prenuptial agreements.
The NYT reports on a trend where couples stay married for long periods without getting legal divorces. Who knew that Warren Buffet was separated from his wife for over 25 years until she died — all the while living with another woman?
Litigants needing more warnings about self-representation in court should check out this piece in the WSJ.
Check your privacy settings, divorcing couples. A recent Newsweek piece notes that divorce attorneys routinely scour Facebook looking for dirt on the other spouse. Indeed, a CNN article points out that Facebook has become ” a tool for cheating spouses and that an increasing number of cases involve Facebook in some way. Confirming that there’s a niche for everything, a Massachusetts man has even started a website, FacebookCheating.com, in order to “help others cope with someone…who is using Facebook to cheat on them.”
On Sunday, The Boston Globe headlined a piece that highlighted some of the problems with our state’s alimony law and reported on some efforts to reform the law. It’s definitely worth the read.
A recent case provides yet another illustration of the importance of careful drafting. A separation agreement provided simply that the “Alternate Payee [the wife] is assigned 60% of the Participant’s [the husband’s] pension benefits.” The agreement was incorporated into a divorce judgment and all provisions relating to the distribution of assets survived. The husband later prepared a QDRO which provided that the wife receive “60% of the Participant’s Vested Accrued Benefit earned as of the date of the Judgment of Divorce Nisi.” The Wife filed a complaint for contempt; she objected to the husband’s QDRO because, contrary to the agreement, it did not permit her to share in post-divorce accruals to the husband’s pension. Noting that the provision did not “limit her entitlement to that amount of the pension that was accrued during the marriage,” the Probate and Family Court agreed with the wife’s interpretation of the agreement and found the husband in contempt. The Appeals Court vacated the contempt but otherwise affirmed the judgment. (Editorial Comment: It seems clear that the language at issue here was the result of a drafting error or oversight – and that the wife exploited this. That said, I can’t help but wonder whether the husband would have had any success had he filed a complaint in equity.) Johnson v. Johnson, 2010 Mass. App. Unpub. LEXIS 711 (June 2, 2010) (Unpublished)
In a case involving really bad timing, the Appeals Court found that the Probate and Family Court properly considered the husband’s substantial inheritance that vested after the final day of trial but prior to the judgment of divorce nisi. The Husband argued that the marital estate should be identified at the close of trial. The Wife argued that the marital estate should be identified at the date of divorce. In upholding the lower court judgment, the Appeals Court noted the wide judicial discretion in the area of property division. Nicholas v. Nicholas, 2010 Mass App. Unpub. LEXIS 593 (May 28, 2010) (Unpublished)