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Massachusetts state senator applauds alimony legislation

Massachusetts State Sen. Patricia Jehlen (D-Somerville) announced her support of the recent Alimony Bill that was passed by Gov. Deval Patrick and the state legislature, according to the Winchester Patch.

The bill was signed on Sept. 26, and Jehlen noted that the legislation was the first comprehensive modernization of the state’s alimony law in more than 20 years. She also spoke to the positive effect that it would have on Massachusetts families.

“This important piece of legislation reforms an antiquated and often unfair system,” Jehlen said in a statement. “I have heard too many stories of families hurt by the alimony system. This balanced approach takes account of changes in society and the workplace in order to make the alimony system fairer for all.”

Part of the legislation created a system where alimony will be adjusted for the length of each individual marriage. Another development was the notion that payments will end for spouses when they are of retirement age or when the other person is living with another romantic partner, according to ABC News.

The news source reported that the ruling came after several years of attempts by the 2nd Wives Club, which wanted to limit payments that they considered excessive to former spouses.

Alimony limits officially signed into law in Massachusetts

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick signed new state limits on alimony into law on September 26, which will cut many lifetime alimony payment awards in the future, The New York Times reports.

The bill will bring Massachusetts in line with practices in most other states. Before the new law, judges could award lifetime alimony regardless of the length of a marriage and often these awards continued on after an ex-spouse retired or moved in with a new partner.

The new law puts time limits on alimony arrangements based on the length of a marriage. In addition, alimony will stop in most cases when an ex retires.

“It’s a good bill that balanced the needs of the payees and those who are paying their spouses,” a family law lawyer who worked on writing the bill told the news source. “It strikes a balance between the two.”

Massachusetts’ alimony reform could have nationwide implications, as other states may now also move to set specific guidelines regarding the length of alimony. The new law also will impact many people in the state, like John Duff, president emeritus of University of Massachusetts-Lowell. According to the the Washington Times, Duff, 80, has advanced Alzheimer’s disease, but he still must pay $3,000 a month in alimony to his ex-wife 30 years after their divorce.

Struggling pitcher files for divorce

John Lackey, a pitcher with the Boston Red Sox, has had a rough season, posting a 12-12 record and an earned run average of 6.41. However, off the field, life may be even more difficult for the hurler.

According to the Boston Globe, Lackey has filed for divorce from his wife, Krista, who has been undergoing treatment for breast cancer.

Lackey has battled with the Boston sports media throughout his tenure in the city, but the divorce claims resulted in a fiery press conference following the team’s recent double header against the New York Yankees. Lackey told the media that he had received a text message from a member of the press 30 minutes before his start, asking about personal issues. Also in the press conference, he reportedly said that “this is unbelievable I’ve got to deal with this.”

According to the Los Angeles Times, John Lackey was married to his wife Krista in 2008 and the couple has a pre-nuptial agreement. The divorce petition was filed in Texas on August 30.

Legal challenge on child support from fathers group rejected

Fathers and Families, a Boston-based fathers’ rights group, has lost its legal challenge against Massachusetts child support guidelines enacted in 2009, the Boston Globe reports. The Supreme Judicial Court unanimously upheld Massachusetts’ existing child support laws.

The organization argued that the state’s rules were enacted unlawfully, are unfair to fathers and may cause harm to parents making support payments.

The lawyer representing Fathers and Families told the court that the new guidelines were approved in a manner that was illegal and unconstitutional, because a judiciary made the final decision, not the legislature. However, the attorney representing the judge and the state’s court system explained that the legislature gave the power to amend child support guidelines to the top administrative judge in 1986.

Still, the advocacy group stated that it believes parents can end up paying excessive child support for children from a first marriage, leaving the spawn of subsequent marriages without basic needs due to lack of funds.

According to the Boston Herald, Fathers and Families has not given up the fight.

“We’re in this for the long haul,” Ned Holstein, founder and chairman of the organization told the publication. “The family courts have been hurting children’s lives for several decades.”

Divorce inspires theater performance

Jennifer Morris, an actor and playwright in New York, was inspired by her parents’ divorce and the contested objects involved to create a work of theater, the Huffington Post reports. The play is called “You Better Sit Down: Tales From My Parents’ Divorce.”

Morris collaborated with fellow actors from her Brooklyn-based theater company, The Civilians, who were children of divorce to shape the performance. Each actor conducted interviews with their parents regarding their married and unmarried lives. In the performance, the actors portray one or both of their own parents.

The show is set to premiere at the Williamstown Theater Festival in Massachusetts on August 16.

For Morris, the play was truly inspired by one lone object – a Tiffany Lamp that became the focal point of her parents’ divorce. Her father claimed the lamp was part of his family’s inheritance as it was his mother’s. Her mother argued that it was her because she had put her name on it as they divided up the woman’s possessions after her death. It always stood out to Morris, even decades after the divorce, how an inanimate object could create such emotions.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the divorce rate in the U.S. is 3.4 per 1,000 population.