In the recent case of Snow v. Snow, SJC-12102 (2017), the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court determined that in the circumstances where the wife in a divorce case did not pursue a claim for alimony during the divorce proceedings but sough alimony more than four years after the divorce judgment that the durational limit of general term alimony under G.L. c. 208, Sec. 49 runs from the date alimony was awarded and not on the date of the divorce judgment or date temporary alimony was awarded.
In this case, wife defaulted in the case then pending in New York. The New York Judge granted a divorce but no maintenance to wife because wife did not pursue her claim for maintenance. Wife later filed a modification action in Massachusetts, where both parties were domiciled, seeking alimony.
The trial judge ordered, among other things, alimony to wife and determined the duration of alimony was 179 months based upon a marriage of 224 months (18 years and eight months) and ordered alimony for the full durational limit beginning on the date of the first temporary alimony payment.
The case was appealed and transferred to the SJC and, after a discussion of the form of the complaint before the court (modification vs. initial complaint for alimony), the inclusion of overtime pay in calculating alimony and the issue of health insurance, the SJC remanded the case to the trial court with instructions to reevaluate the alimony judgment according the the SJC’s opinion.
This case is a must read for practitioners as it may affect how alimony is handled going forward and as the revised alimony statute in Massachusetts continues to evolve through the courts.