Friday, June 20, 2008

Women Cancel Marriage - Follow-up To Previous Post

“Alimony is a system by which, when two people make a mistake, one of them keeps paying for it” -- Peggy Joyce

In a follow-up to the article and within hours of an op-ed piece appearing in the Boston Globe that condemns Massachusetts' out-of-date and lopsided alimony laws ("The Chilling Effect of the State's Divorce Laws," June 13, 2008), we can see the growing influence that alimony has on parties decisions whether or not to get married. In turn, it is the primary cause that is responsible for the current Marriage Strike that is changing the landscape and structure of the family and institution of marriage in our society.

Undisclosed in these reports is the fact that The Alliance For Freedom From Alimony, Inc., which is the national organization for alimony reform in the U.S., has been supporting the efforts of the Reform Massachusetts Alimony which is the Massachusetts chapter branch of the Alliance. The Alliance's legal team has been responsible for assisting them in their legal efforts from its inception though to the appeals court.

Women Cancel Weddings Within Hours of Boston Globe Op-ed Regarding State's Alimony Laws

BOSTON, June 18, 2008 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Within hours of an op-ed piece appearing in the Boston Globe that condemns Massachusetts' out-of-date and lopsided alimony laws ("The Chilling Effect of the State's Divorce Laws," June 13, 2008), Mass Alimony Reform received a phone call from a woman who had planned to marry a divorced man in September, but after reading the article, decided to cancel her wedding.

Link to Boston Globe op-ed:

The op-ed mentions the story of Cathy Ortiz, who works as a secretary in Fairhaven, MA. In 2007 she was ordered to write a weekly check to her husband's ex-wife, because her husband is out of work, even though the ex-wife works full-time and receives benefits. Under the state's current laws, she is entitled to lifetime alimony even though she works full-time and received an equitable share of marital assets in the divorce.

By Monday evening, three days after the op-ed appeared, Steve Hitner, founder Mass Alimony Reform, and Deb Scanlan, founder of The 2nd Wives Club, who support reforms in the state law, had received numerous emails from women saying that they are canceling weddings rather than become subject to divorce laws that could involve their paying alimony to their new husbands' ex-wives once they married.

"We have been astonished by the reaction to the op-ed," said Hitner, whose organization is backing a comprehensive bill, HR 1567, in the Massachusetts legislature. "People are calling from all over the country who are suffering under Massachusetts alimony laws because they got divorced here decades ago."

The op-ed has provoked radio and television media attention, on major stations, including WBZ AM talk radio and WRKO AM.

The author of the op-ed, writer Elizabeth Benedict, has also received queries from strangers concerning their marriage plans. In the op-ed, Benedict describes herself as one of a growing number of people in Massachusetts who refuse to marry because of the state's harsh divorce laws, and particularly those that affect men with lifetime alimony obligations.

"There is no other state in the country that has alimony laws that remotely resemble those of Massachusetts," said attorney Tim Taylor, Lincoln, MA, who drafted HR 1567 and modeled it on California's law, which is considered the state that is most protective of women's interests. HR 1567 was introduced earlier this year but sent for "further study" by the Judiciary Committee. "These laws desperately need to be updated," Taylor said.

Massachusetts alimony practices are not based on statutes passed by the legislature, but on case law, the details of which are unknown to most legislators. Alimony law is gender neutral, but 96 percent of alimony in Massachusetts is paid by men to women.

Currently these are common practices:

-- Alimony is awarded after marriages as short as five years.
-- Couples who sign prenups that waive their right to alimony can and do have their prenups overruled by judges.
-- Alimony is almost always awarded with no time limit. Current law does not permit putting an end date on alimony.
-- Alimony payments do not automatically end or decline when a man retires. A man may be ordered to pay his ex-wife alimony from the pension he lives on and from which she has already received an equitable share at the time of divorce.
-- Alimony is commonly awarded at 30 to 40 percent of total household income, including second spouse.
-- Alimony without end is awarded to women with full-time jobs with benefits and to women with advanced degrees, technical skills, and/or licenses, such as nurses, realtors, and financial analysts.

About Massachusetts Alimony Reform:

Mission of Massachusetts Alimony Reform: "To promote peace and the independence of the parties to divorce, we must amend the alimony laws to clarify guidelines, protect the truly needy and eliminate lifelong marital welfare" .

Please contact Mass Alimony Reform 508 335-0069 for additional information, including a copy of HR 1567, a set of horror stories by people subject to the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court system, and to find out how you can help change the law.
SOURCE Massachusetts Alimony Reform
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