An alimony case decided just yesterday by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court would have been of general interest to many people even absent some particular details that truly set it apart from other spousal maintenance-related outcomes.
Those details center on wealth and lifestyle and, importantly, future expectations. It is likely that many so-called “high asset” couples in Massachusetts who are contemplating ending their marriages or presently involved in the divorce process are perusing the specifics in the court’s ruling at this very moment.
The bottom line in the case was this: The ex-wife of a senior financial executive commanding an enviable salary that has seen progressive spikes in the wake of the couple’s divorce several years ago wanted a share of those ratcheted-up assets. To get them, she filed a lawsuit, claiming an entitlement of one-third of her former husband’s future income.
A state probate judge agreed with that, notwithstanding that the husband’s wealth gain had materialized following divorce and in the wake of an already intact divorce settlement.
The high court differed, sending the case back down for determination of a new alimony award. It did so with instructions that the lower court consider the couple’s pre-divorce lifestyle, which it contended was already “lavish.”
The fundamental take away in the case was the court’s disinclination to adjust existing alimony to reflect one spouse’s improved financial situation following divorce.
While refusing to do so in the instant case, the court did acknowledge situations where doing so “is reasonable and fair.”
It added, though, that “those circumstances are not present in this case.”
Alimony considerations can be supremely important in a given Massachusetts divorce. Questions or concerns regarding this spousal maintenance can be directed to an experienced family law attorney.