While we’re all waiting for the Legislature to act on the new alimony bill, it pays to remember that Pierce is still good law. The controversial 2009 decision held that a modification or termination of alimony should not be solely premised on a supporting spouses retirement. A recent appellate decision clarifies Pierce further. A sixty-five year old ex- husband filed a complaint to terminate his alimony because he had retired. The Probate judge allowed the ex-husbands complaint and the ex-wife appealed, asserting in her appeal that the judges order was inconsistent with Pierce. The Appeals Court affirmed, noting that the judge properly based her decision on an analysis of the recipients need and the payors ability to pay and not solely on the fact of the ex-husbands retirement. Importantly, the court also noted that the ex-husbands retirement was in good faith and at the customary retirement age of 65.
Ross v. Ross, 2011 Mass. Unpub. LEXIS 434 (April 6, 2011)