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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.

South Carolina couples must live apart before spousal support can be awarded

Couples who are looking to divorce in South Carolina must first live apart before spousal support can be sought. While this law has been on the books for many years, a recent ruling by the state’s Supreme Court proves that there is no exception for spouses without incomes, The Associated Press reports.

The ruling came after a judge in family court dismissed Eileen Theisen’s request for alimony because, while divorced, she still lived under the same roof with her ex-husband. The South Carolina Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s ruling.

According to the South Carolina Legislature, the state’s law prohibits divorce except in cases of adultery, desertion for a period of one year, physical cruelty, habitual drunkenness or after the husband and wife have lived apart without cohabitation for a period of one year.

The court’s decision offers some clarity to an increasingly hazy issue, as many people have kept living together after a divorce due to the difficult economy. However, the ruling may not help stay-at-home caregivers like Theisen, according to a family law attorney, because they have no income stream to allow them to set up a separate household.

Spousal support award reversed in Tennessee Supreme Court

When Craig Gonsewski went through a divorce from his wife Johanna after 21 years of marriage, he was ordered to pay lifetime alimony to his ex-spouse. However, the Tennessee Supreme Court has absolved him of that duty because his ex-wife holds a stable job with considerable income, the Chattanoogan reports.

After the divorce, spousal support was denied because both parties were college educated with high-paying jobs, according to the news source, but on an appeal to the Court of Appeals, that decision was reversed and Gonsewski was forced to pay $1,250 per month in alimony until his ex-wife’s death or remarriage.

Then the state Supreme Court stepped in, unanimously voting to eliminate the lifetime alimony award because of Johanna Gonsewski’s stable finances and her significant amount of assets taken during the division of property. The ex-wife argued to the court that she could not maintain her previous standard of living before the divorce, which is a major factor in awarding alimony, but the Supreme Court disagreed.

According to WDEF, the divorce rate in Tennessee is above the national average, at 11.4 percent for men and 11.6 percent for women. The news source reports that spike could be due to the shorter divorce process in the state compared to other areas.

Spousal support debated at McCourt divorce battle

The divorce saga of Frank and Jamie McCourt, owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers, is continuing as a judge has agreed to consider reducing the amount of spousal support paid, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Frank McCourt was previously ordered to pay $225,000 per month in alimony and more than $400,000 a month to maintain the ex-couple’s six homes and one condominium. He argued, however, that he has already paid more than $5 million annually to cover the homes and that his ex-wife should pay the mortgages herself or sell the properties.

Due to the divorce and resulting financial instability, the Los Angeles Dodgers filed for bankruptcy protection in August 2011 and Major League Baseball assumed the club’s day-to-day operations in April of that year.

After going through very public divorces, some celebrities have shied away from other marriages. Eva Longoria, the actress who filed for divorce from basketball star Tony Parker in late 2010, recently told Fox News that she wasn’t sure if she would ever marry again. She has been reportedly dating the brother of actress Penelope Cruz since January 2011.

A guide to alimony payments after a divorce

In a divorce agreement, alimony payments are often included as a way for a former spouse to maintain a lifestyle similar to married life. Also known as spousal support, these payments are determined by a court.

According to financial professional Jamie Kresge in a recent column for the Abington Journal, the court will address certain characteristics of a divorce when determining the amount of alimony granted.

First, need is considered. If the recipient spouse can’t afford to pay what is needed, alimony is likely. The paying spouse must be in good financial shape in order to make payments, however. These spouses must be able to make the alimony payments and have enough money to meet basic needs and preserve a similar pre-divorce lifestyle. If a couple lived an extravagant lifestyle while together, the court will likely take that into account when the amount of alimony is decided upon, writes Kresge.

According to the Washington Times, many states have toyed with the idea of doing away with alimony for life arrangements. The most serious challenge occurred recently in Massachusetts, when the state Senate voted unanimously to pursue alimony reform.