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Alimony for Cohabiters: A Bitter Pill?

Should alimony payments keep going to ex-spouses who live with new partners? Many feel Connecticut's cohabitation laws need an update.

Alimony is one of the most charged words in English. A word that opens the door to all kinds of heartache. Divorce. Lawyers. Money. Dependence. Resentment. Who owes what to whom – for how long and under what circumstances?

Connecticut’s antiquated alimony laws – like those of many states around the country – are being scrutinized by lawmakers, lawyers, and advocates. Some are committed to updating the laws. Others argue publicly that everything’s fine while admitting privately that the family court system is a travesty. Even public supporters admit that five different judges will render five different decisions based on an identical set of facts. 

Divorce is about the end of a relationship, and alimony is about its continuation beyond the finish line. The relationship is now entirely about money, and the money only goes one way. Recipients may feel they aren’t getting enough, payers that they are paying too much. Few have a kind word for the clogged court system or the lawyers' fees that eat away at family resources.

One of the most fraught alimony issues concerns ongoing payments to ex-spouses who are cohabiting. Because so many more men pay alimony than women, most often it’s men supporting ex-wives and new boyfriends, or boyfriends of many years. Even when payers are resigned to paying an ex-spouse, the equation changes when a new lover moves in. Resignation quickly morphs into resentment. And that spikes if the ex-husband has to support his ex, his children, his ex's boyfriend, and sometimes his children, who might all live in the marital home. But even with no children involved, being forced to support two able-bodied adults is a bitter pill to swallow.

It’s an open secret – or maybe not much of a secret at all – that the new couple don't marry because they would lose the alimony. Sometimes it’s $100 a week, sometimes $100 a day.

You’d think no one would have to swallow such a pill. If the marriage is long over and the recipient is in an established new relationship, the alimony should end, right? Well, no, not exactly. Not in Connecticut.

In Massachusetts, where the state’s 40-year-old alimony laws were just overhauled, cohabitation was updated to reflect 21st century social and economic realities. Alimony in Massachusetts can now be reduced or eliminated if the payer can show that the recipient has “maintained a common household with another person for a continuous period of three months.” (For details, please see the new law on the Mass Alimony Reform website, Sect. 49(d))

When Connecticut legislators considered new alimony provisions earlier this year (Raised Bill No. 5509), they included provisions like those now in place in Massachusetts. Even though a good many family lawyers believe there are problems with the current cohabitation laws, the alimony reform package, including the cohab provisions, died in the Judiciary Committee.

Under current law, alimony payers may try to modify payments if the recipient is cohabiting, but proving it is a nearly impossible standard. The statute for reducing or ending alimony upon a showing of cohabitation, Section 46b-86(b), requires the payer to meet a two-part test. The payer must prove that the couple lives together and that there is a financially supportive relationship between them.

The statute gives judges unbridled discretion in making every decision related to alimony. Even when there is abundant evidence of cohabitation and of a financially interdependent relationship, judges may rule to keep the alimony in place, leading one petitioner to call the courthouse in Danbury, where his return trips to divorce court take place, “the Danbury slaughterhouse.” Instead of his alimony going down, it’s gone up, while his ex receives monthly funds from her boyfriend and “loans” to purchase real estate. Appeals can cost $50,000 – and are often fruitless.

To try to prove cohabitation, payers must often hire private detectives and aggressive lawyers, and spend a fortune on discovery, which is the process of unearthing financial records, credit card bills, tax returns, and deeds and titles to houses, cars, and boats. For nearly everyone involved, this is distasteful in the extreme. It is easy to enlist children to take sides. Yet this is the statutory requirement in Connecticut.

Because the stakes are so high, recipients and their partners are easily tempted to hide resources and the nature and extent of their financial involvement. It’s an open secret that gaming the system is commonplace. A good many people now understand that even when the payer can prove a financially supportive relationship, a judge may still look the other way. Why? I have two suspicions:

1. There’s gender bias in the courts. Many judges are from “the old school,” and believe that women, even those who worked throughout their marriages, should still be “taken care of” by ex-husbands. Perhaps they still believe the out-dated stereotype of divorce: that men leave their wives for younger women and that they should “have to pay.” 

2. Unlike many other states, Connecticut’s alimony laws have no guidelines and include no expectation that a recipient will ever have to become self-sufficient. By contrast, welfare recipients are given limits to being dependent, and child support ends on a date certain. Perhaps if the law imposed the idea of eventual self-sufficiency - with exceptions for special cases - judges could accept it more readily and apply it in more instances.

These are speculations. What’s not speculative is that Connecticut’s cohabitation laws are out-of-date and out-of-touch. They cause unnecessary acrimony for all family members, and they force long-divorced couples into ugly conflict and expense.

CT Alimony Reform, the state’s leading alimony reform group, favors updating the cohabitation laws, to bring sanity, fairness, and common sense to them.

CTAR is holding a free public meeting on  to educate and inform citizens about current alimony laws, about proposals for change, and about how they can become involved in moving our laws and expectations into the 21st century. 

Alimony laws in Massachusetts changed when citizens began to speak out. Eventually, word got out about what really happens in family court. And legislators knew they had to make changes. 

I'm eager to hear from you - publicly or privately - on what you think alimony reform should look like. Please email me at info@ctalimonyreform.com. If you are interested in the issue but can't come to Westport, please contact us and we'll respond. We need your voices to be heard: info@ctalimonyreform.com. 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Joseph Dwyer May 31, 2012 at 09:26 PM
This article (most regrettably) is a very accurate reflection of reality within the CT Family Court. What boggles my mind is that the very Judges entrusted to do what's right are indeed bias, I too have experienced this first hand in the Danbury "Slaughterhouse" Forty years ago our society was obviously structured very differently when the CT Alimony Statute was established. The time for updating this statute is long overdue; to bring it in line with our society of today, and to re-instill balance and trust in the CT Family Court System!
Joan May 31, 2012 at 09:29 PM
What an excellent article!!! Right to the point, Connecticut is way behind the times, and those attorneys not wanting change do not want to interupt the steady annuity stream they so easily set up on the backs of broken families.
Elizabeth Benedict May 31, 2012 at 09:55 PM
Alimony generates a lot of controversy. Are there folks out there who want to see the laws stay as they are?
Dan June 01, 2012 at 01:33 PM
I thought virtually all divorce agreements include a co-habitation clause now a days. Only the most negligent lawyer would leave one out?
Patrice Fitzgerald June 01, 2012 at 03:02 PM
An interesting article. I think it is important to note that Ms. Benedict is not an attorney. I see that she has written a number of Patch articles on this topic, and I wonder who she works for, and whether she has a particular agenda in creating discussion around alimony reform in our state. Please don't forget the other side of the story -- the spouse who has stayed home to raise children during a long marriage of perhaps 20+ years, and who has given up decades of professional advancement as part of the marriage agreement between a couple that believed they could "manage" on one salary -- a salary that can be as much as several hundred thousand dollars a year in a state like Connecticut. It is well-established that most men see an increase in earnings after divorce. Most women see a dramatic drop in living standard, along with the children. That is the norm. Though it's easy to understand the frustration about "supporting" the ex's new relationship, is this kind of reform simply a way to penalize those who want to go on with their lives and find love after divorce? If the alimony and child support are warranted, why does the paying ex-spouse get to tell the recipient what to do with his or her money? We could just as well let the payer dictate that no vacations are allowed, no dinners out, and strawberries only on the Fourth of July. I should add that I am an attorney, though I have never practiced divorce law.
Joseph Dwyer June 01, 2012 at 05:06 PM
It is indeed an interesting Article and most importantly very realistic. While I'm not here to defend Ms. Benedict, she's never inferred that she's an attorney; nor has she said there isn't an important role for alimony. There is indeed an important role for alimony. There is also indeed a need for a modifications in the law to bring it current with the times and that's what she's campaigning for, and I as one agree. The problem is that these laws were established when "Leave it To Beaver" and "Marcus Welby MD" were on the air and 99% of women were indeed homemakers and possibly 5% of the population divorced vs today where there are primarily 2 income familles (Husband and Wife) and 50% of married couples divorce. Secondly, there is the gaming of the system that occurs every day where as she noted Boyfriends move in, pay bills, offer deposits for a new home and are effectively avoiding marriage to insure the annuity stream continues. This is wrong and amounts to theft. What is so disheartening is that the Judges look the other way , by choice, when the facts are squarely before them. I have seen it first hand and don't need a law degree to identify a problem or an injustice. For whatever reason, the Judges, / the CT Family Court System that we intrust to do what right, are adrift from their beacon and balanced parameters are much needed.
Joan June 01, 2012 at 05:41 PM
Writing an article about divorce does not require the author to be an attorney, believe it or not there are many people who are not attorneys that have knowledge and or experience on the subject of divorce. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see Ms. Benedict's "agenda" is to start dialog, to get people to share their experience and to examine what is and is not happening in Connecticut in regard to divorce. I have had experience in Connecticut and found the courts to be over burdened and out of touch. Why not start dialog, have people share experiences to try to make a better system? Divorce is a difficult situation at best what is wrong with examining what can be done to improve the way Connecticut deals with it? And while we remember the "other side" lets also remember not all divorce situations involve a stay at home wife or children living at home and that the "marriage agreement" in not always broken by the supporting spouse. As far as "warranted" alimony that is exactly the point, is it time to reexamine what "warranted" is? The point is not to be able to tell the ex spouse how to spend the alimony but to insure the contributions from the new boyfriend etc. are included in the equation when determining the alimony "warranted".
Barbara Carlson June 01, 2012 at 06:25 PM
The idea that not being an attorney somehow negates one’s ability to address an important issue is a fallacious one. This issue has been looked at by other states around the nation; alimony laws have begun to reflect modern times. If a woman has chosen to stay home to have a family, has she not benefited all those years from the lifestyle her husband's job has afforded her? Why then is there a belief that upon divorcing, she should be entitled to an open-ended paycheck for many years (long past when her children are out of the house)? Upon divorce, the equal split of marital assets represents the sum of what both achieved in the marriage. Alimony is still important, but alimony without end is not only unreasonable, it's disastrous to families who are caught in the crossfire for years. I’ve seen the difference in approach between CT and the state I come from (on the west coast). For states that allow an ex-wife to be given half the marriage assets, as well as a financial bridge of alimony for a period of time until she can get retrained and back in the workforce, you see women move on with their lives; the family court system is not bogged down by the constant weight of ongoing legal cases that occur many years following a divorce; you see families (adult children, grandchildren) able to have a healthy relationship with both parents. Reasonable alimony limits are not draconian; they are necessary and what frankly, long overdue.
MPJP June 01, 2012 at 08:55 PM
Dan, You are correct. In CT virtually all divorce agreements include a co-habitiation clause. This group wants to take it one step further. In their proposed bill 5509, they state that alimony should terminate (and this is the actual wording)... "Oral or written statements or representations made to third parties regarding the relationship of the party receiving periodic alimony and the person or persons with whom he or she shares a primary residence" So the x spouse can run around and get a friend to make an oral statement that his x is co-habitating and based on that statement alimony would be terminated. I am not an attorney but that is the actual wording. Actually there are several things listed and this is just the first but as you can see from this first statement, the number of cases being filed on co-habitation will increase. Divorce lawyers will make more money not less if this reform goes through. Maybe that is why the MA lawyers went along with it. It is almost as bad as the Salem Witch trials. I agree with Ms. Fitzgerald. Elizabeth definitely has a personal agenda. She is the founder of the second wives club. I also would like to mention that I am fairly certain that the first wives did not have any representation at the negotiations when MA came up with their alimony reform. However the second wives were represented and therefore the second wives negotiated the first wives divorce. Very one sided.
Elizabeth Benedict June 01, 2012 at 09:03 PM
Alimony is a complex issue. I am not an attorney. I am, among other things, an alimony reform advocate, and I have worked with organizations in many states, including Massachusetts, where I was involved with someone for 13 years before we could marry, because of that state's antiquated laws. Had we married, I could have been forced to use my own income and assets to send alimony to his ex (who, for the record, wanted the divorce). This changed on March 1, when new law took effect. I grew up in New York, where alimony laws were changed 30 years ago to get the "dependent" spouse to become independent as soon as possible. By contrast, the new MA law provides generous terms of alimony for the lower-earning spouse, and exceptions for special cases. Most states have already moved away from long-term alimony and lifetime alimony. I am very much in favor of alimony with limits depending on the length of the marriage and the income of the parties. I also believe there should be exceptions for special cases. There may be disadvantages to limits on alimony in some cases, but among the advantages are that parties MUST move on with their lives - with new careers, new marriages, and often, an amiable relationship with the parent of their children. In most cases where alimony endures, these outcomes are almost always impossible. If you're curious to see what happened in MA, please visit: http://www.massalimonyreform.org. Thanks for talking here! Please, let's hear more!
Elizabeth Benedict June 02, 2012 at 12:27 AM
MPJP-re Alimony & Cohabitation: You are wrong on several major points: I was not a founder of the 2nd wives club, and while I was sympathetic to their mission, I was not a member of the organization and never represented myself as one. As to your bizarre charge that the first wives in MA had no representation on the task force that revamped the alimony law: this is flat out not true. The "first wives" had 1. the entire weight of the law and 2. the Boston Bar 3. the Massachusetts Bar 4. The Women's Bar and 5. The Chief Justice of the Probate Court. There were 14 month of negotiations. I'm not sure where you obtained this info, but it is blatantly inaccurate. Please note, under the new law in MA, first wives who are lower=earners or non-earners get extremely generous alimony awards - much more so than in a great many states, including NY. For instance, someone ending a 15 year marriage gets 8 or 9 years of alimony (don't have the numbers in front of me). Someone ending a 19 year marriage gets 16 or 17 YEARS (please forgive if I'm off by a year or two). Again, most states do not award anything resembling these lengthy alimony awards. Lastly, your notion that a payer in MA can prove cohabitation by getting some of his friends to say the couple lives together is - I hate to say it - absurd. There is far more to proving cohabitation than that in MA. I have no idea where you obtained this information either, but it quite far from accurate.
MPJP June 02, 2012 at 01:28 AM
Elizabeth, Above you made the comment that you were not the founder of the 2nd wives club. I just went back and re-read your testimony which you presented to our legislators and is posted on their site under bill 5509. In your testimony you said, "in 2008 I found two Massachusetts organizations, online, Mass Alimony Reform and the 2nd Wives Club." I realize there were lawyers negotitating the MA reform, but lawyers represent both clients and are neutral. The voice of the first wives was not present. I would hope in CT they would either include an equal representation of first wives as CTAR members or exclude both. The MA Alimony reform is very one sided because the other side was not present at the negotiations I don't know why Elizabeth feels she is qualified to interpret the cohabitation part of the bill since she is not a lawyer. During the opposing testimony's that was given to our legislators by lawyers who practice in this field the comment was made that the proposed statue would turn cohabiation into an overreaching exploration.
Elizabeth Benedict June 02, 2012 at 01:36 AM
Dan- As I try to explain in my blog, the problem is not that people don't have cohabitation clauses in their agreements, but that proving cohabitation even under these circumstances is so difficult, and even when it is patently present and evidence is presented and not refuted, some judges nevertheless refuse to accept it. If the payer says, You're cohabiting, the recipient can argue that s/he isn't - under the two prongs to the cohab statute, as explained above - and they are back in court for another round of divorce. Many attorneys like to say that if a judge gives you a ruling you don't like, you can appeal it. In that case, you can add $30K - $50K to your legal bills, with scant hope of a reversal.
Elizabeth Benedict June 02, 2012 at 01:52 AM
MPJP: We have a different understanding of the rules of grammar. You have entirely misread my sentence: "I found two Massachusetts organizations on-line, Mass ALimony Reform and the 2nd Wives Club." Had I "founded" - as in "established" - these organizations I would have said, "I founded" these organizations, which is the correct use of the word "founded," but what I meant was that I "located" - that is, found - these organizations. Your statement, re Massachusetts: "The voice of the first wives was not present" remains absurd. Whom do think the Women's Bar represents? Lawyers are not the only people permitted to "interpret" bills or laws. English professors are not the only people permitted to interpret poems. Not all legislators are lawyers, and they spend time writing laws. No one says they can't because they are not lawyers - though maybe you think that should be a new rule. Non-doctors can read medical material and interpret it, but that doesn't mean they can practice medicine.
MPJP June 02, 2012 at 04:38 PM
It is fine for a non-legal person to read a legal bill and interpret it for themself. But when they write articles and post them in every local paper across the state and make comments to people regarding their specific questions pertaining to the bill as if they are an authority on the subject, a subject where they do NOT have the educational background to be an authority, then it is not okay and someone needs to call them out on it. The co-habitation wording is very vague and I don't agree with you that it will not open the door for false accusations.
Elizabeth Benedict June 02, 2012 at 04:50 PM
MPJP: The cohabitation language in current CT law is even vaguer than what's in the proposed bill. Efforts to reform the law are efforts to make the law more specific, not leave everything open to a single judge's interpretation or prejudice.
Joseph Dwyer June 02, 2012 at 04:56 PM
The reality is, there is the gaming of the system that occurs every day where Boyfriends move in, pay bills, offer deposits for a new home and are effectively avoiding marriage to insure the annuity stream continues. This is wrong and amounts to theft. What is so disheartening is that the Judges look the other way , by choice, when the facts are squarely before them. I have seen this first hand. For whatever reason, the Judges, / the CT Family Court System that we intrust to do what right, are adrift from their beacon and balanced parameters are much needed; hence, what is in place today is broken and in ill need of a total overhaul. From my first hand experience in living the dream with the CT Family Court System, Ms. Benedict absolutely correct.
Sarah Jancosek June 03, 2012 at 12:33 AM
I am one of those women who chose to stay at home. There is no question I paid an economic price, but it is one I freely chose. No one forced this choice on me. As one person commented, as a stay at home I benefited greatly from being able to do so. I got to spend time with my son, do volunteer work, etc. I was blessed. However, once the children are grown it was always expected that I would return to work, even as a married woman. The fact that the marriage didn't last is not relevant. I think it is also essential not to conflate child support with alimony. I do not believe that my choosing to stay home entitles me, or any other stay at home spouse, to a lifetime of free money. Marital assets are divided during the divorce judgment; alimony should serve, as one writer above put it, as a "bridge" to self sufficiency. A man who doesn't support his children is, in my opinion, a despicable. Is a person who thinks that their ex owes them a lifetime pension for 18-20 years of work that much better? Your point about telling the ex spouse what to do with his/her alimony raises an interesting question: the purpose of alimony. Is it to allow the ex to get back on his/her feet and make a transition, or is it a kind of lifetime endowment? The over focus on full time moms unfairly penalizes women who did work (either by choice or necessity) during the marriage, because they do not generally qualify for the lush benefits accorded former stay-at-homes during a divorce.
joanne June 03, 2012 at 03:42 AM
Can anyone help me understand as a single divorced mother why child support ends at age eighteen leaving a child with only a high school education to fend for themselves financially while a grown adult with a college education and workplace skills is allowed to collect financial support (alimony) without end? Kudos to CTAR for opening a dialogue re: divorce and alimony. The family court system is completely broken. Shame on our judges, attorneys and elected officials.
MPJP June 03, 2012 at 05:41 AM
Joanne, I agree with you that child support should be extended until age 23. However, CTAR is not fighting to increase child support. They represent x-husbands and second wives. Believe me the last thing they are going to ask for is longer child support. If you read the propose bill 5509 which they are lobbying for, there is a paragraph that was included which would put child support payments into a trust. This would allow your x to monitor how you spend each penny. The only reform they are asking for on child support is the trust. Please go to the CT Legislative site and type in bill 5509 and read it. You will see there is nothing in there to increase child support but there is a paragraph to put it into a trust. All of us mothers need more support not less. We need to stick together and support each other.
Sarah Jancosek June 03, 2012 at 12:33 PM
Hi Joanne, I think that this feature of the law is common to most states. I am certainly open to correction on this if I am wrong. The only exception to the age-of-majority rule is if the child is disabled. I had this problem in my divorce, even though my ex makes an extremely good income. Basically I was told that unlike food, shelter, medical care, etc. a college education is not viewed as a basic right. Mine is just one case, but I believe that is the thinking behind it. I certainly am not justifying it! My ex kicks in nothing for our son. However, he has to live with himself, so perhaps that is punishment enough. Your juxtaposition of the young adult trying to pull his/her life together and the able bodied ex collecting checks is an interesting angle. Never thought of it that way. I have learned this: as our kids grow, they begin to understand their parents in terms of how they behave, not what they say. The truth about each parent's character emerges over time as kids become adults. Still, it isn't easy!
MPJP June 03, 2012 at 04:47 PM
Sarah, In CT child support does not pay for shelter even if it is a basic right. It may pay for food but that is about it. Medical care is usually split unless one parent can carry the children on their policy at work. However, shelter is a major concern. The mothers I know that did not receive alimony and made under $100k and did not immediately get married ended up using their parents as a supplement. I know many women in that situation. Their children's education, camps as well as their shelter is being paid for by their parents or at least supplemented. This is the same thing as alimony, the only difference is that instead of the father of the child paying it, the father of the daughter is stuck. Those that don't have parents or siblings to help them and those that make a very low income often apply for Husky medical insurance not only for their child but also for themself and other programs like food stamps. Most are so stressed out. Child support ends at age 18 while the children are still living at home until age 23. Even those that go off to college are home 3-4 months out of the year. Some come home every weekend. We really need to stop thinking of our own personal situation and think of our children and grandchildren. What are we leaving for them? Tell your child today they better find a career that pays $150+ or not have kids, because if they end up divorced they will fall into poverty. This new reform does nothing to address these issues.
Sarah Jancosek June 03, 2012 at 05:17 PM
Dear MJPJ, I can understand your concern for your children. However, your assertion that it is impossible to live under $150,00 in CT shows that you represent a very narrow, privileged band of the state and national population. The median income in this country is well, well below $150,000. Everyone who posts on this blog, including you, is speaking out of his/her personal situation. Your representation of yourself as the sole mother concerned about the welfare of children (and now grandchildren) is a bit of a stretch. Good parents of all stripes have differing positions on these issues.
Elizabeth Benedict June 03, 2012 at 09:28 PM
Alimony is a complex subject, and we each come at it with all the emotion it elicits. The world of work is changing radically, with more women making more money than men. Alimony laws change throughout the country. CT's are particularly old-fashioned and out of date. LIke attitudes about gay marriages, these antiquated ideas will change too. We don't live in the world of our mothers or our grandmothers - and who wants to? Please take a look at this new article about women making more than men in t'mor's CT Law Tribune. BTW, MPJP: Plenty of women make more than $150K AND have children too: http://www.ctlawtribune.com/getarticle.aspx?ID=42370
MPJP June 04, 2012 at 01:52 PM
Elizabeth, You can't reform alimony without reforming child support. They go hand and hand. Unallocated alimony is combined alimony and child support. Our child support guidelines end at age 18 while children are not self sufficient. Back in the 1950's they may have been able to get a factory job but those jobs are long gone. Child Support is more outdated than alimony but no one wants to talk about that. That is the real taboo. Children are not even allowed to have a drink of alcohol in this state until age 21. In MA their child support goes until age 23, why doesn't ours? If you only reform alimony and not child support then CT will have the worst divorce laws out of all the states. In addition the dollar amount of child support is way too low. It does not provide for a suitable home for the children, a basic need and it should. And it does not keep up with inflation (gas,oil) prices. You are going to have a lot of angry mothers out here if you reform one and not the other. Unlike MA our child support laws are WAY OUTDATED.
Elizabeth Benedict June 04, 2012 at 03:05 PM
Child support guidelines are reviewed every 4 years by the state legislature. Here's an FAQ about it. I imagine that private citizens can participate in this in some way. This is quite different from alimony, which is under no legislative imperatives to be reviewed. FYI: MA and Hawaii are the only 2 states that have C/S until 23. It's 18 or maybe older - though I think 18 - in nearly all the other states. http://www.cga.ct.gov/2009/rpt/2009-R-0410.htm
Elizabeth Benedict June 04, 2012 at 03:09 PM
PS RE child support: I should qualify my statement above: As of 2 years ago, MA and Hawaii were the only states with C/S going till 23. I have not looked at the surveys in a while. I may be off, but the vast majority of states end C/S at 18, and I believe that all C/S guidelines must be reviewed by the states every several years, because of Federal involvement in the process. Again, there is no such Federal involvement in alimony (except that it's tax deductible/taxable income), so legislatures are under no such pressure to review the laws.
Patrice Fitzgerald June 07, 2012 at 03:22 PM
I congratulate Ms. Benedict on creating the discussion she sought. I agree that it is completely appropriate for lay people to weigh in on legal issues that affect everyone -- I simply wanted to point out that Ms. Benedict did not have a law degree, since I was under the impression that she did. Perhaps that is one of the issues on which we differ... if I were widely engaged in writing articles in the press on a medical question, for example, I would add a statement in my bio or at the end of each opinion article making it clear that I did not have a medical degree. This wide-ranging discussion, which is informative, is covering several different areas of monetary recompense -- a splitting of the assets within a marriage, child support, alimony, and possibly other funds such as pension plans. It's a complicated issue, as has been pointed out. When you think about the law being antiquated, do remember that women still make only three-quarters of what a man does in this country. Women right out of college, with no spouse and no children, having made no choices about lifestyle, still get offered only 77¢ to the dollar a man is offered. There are gender differences, whether we think there should be or not. It will be interesting to see how the issues unfold as same-sex marriage becomes common, and spouses of the same gender divorce.
DON SMEDLY October 04, 2012 at 10:54 PM
People marry as adults that are or should be of making their own decisions regarding their life. If a couple marrys and 1 of the 2 spouces, husband or wife, decides to stop working because of children (joint decision or not), laziness or decided not to further their education or seek career advancement that is not the problem of the other spouce very frankly and most states make it the problem of the other spouce but the courts always seem to make it the other spouces problem. Its simple you go out with what you came in with plus or minus marital assets aquired DURING the marriage only, if there is debt a divorce should not be granted until it is all paid in full, if 1 spouce is not or under employed the divorce should not be final until that spouce is earning a salary enough to meet basic living requirements (aka minimum wage full time). Doing it this way would eliminate BS alimony and the rodeo of attorneys flooding our courts hallways playing "lets make a deal" and porking everyone in their path. And furthermore the court system is the biggest joke and circus when it comes to divorce, all judges on panel should be fired and disbarred for allowing the outcomes i've heard over the years.. The other dog and pony show is child support.. It is one of the most discriminitory systems Ive ever seen or heard of.. Why it it that c child from a wealthy family recieves more dollar wise than one from an average family?? Is the wealthy child worth more??
William Heino Sr. April 11, 2013 at 01:28 PM
Now that Florida, Massachusetts, Colorado and Utah, New Jersey legislators, due to the changing realities of family life, proposed or passed that permanent current alimony obligations be eliminated in alimony reform legislation, it is now time to propose similar alimony reform legislation for disabled veterans, as Nevada, and West Virginia have recently enacted. You may ask why? Because,….. according to law…… = INFORMATIONAL COMMENT STATE COURT JUDGES = 38 USC 5301 Nonassignability and exempt status of benefits. "Payments of benefits due or to become due under any law administered by the Secretary shall not be assignable except to the extent specifically authorized by law,.. a beneficiary shall be exempt from taxation, shall be exempt from the claim of creditors, and shall not be liable to attachment, levy or seizure by or under any legal or equitable process whatever, either before or after receipt by the beneficiary. = “It is well established that disability benefits are a protected property interest and may not be discontinued without due process of law. See Atkins v. Parker, 472 U.S. 115, 128 (1985); Mathews v. Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319, 332 (1976)” = How is it, that state court judges can arbitrarily and capriciously award as alimony, with the mere wave of a hand waive away a portion of a veteran’s VA disability rated compensation, moneys in the form of disability compensation, the disability rights of a veteran, whose disability rating that maybe determined and factored in as critical? Judgment as if all disabilities are exactly the same? State court judges, are in reality, playing doctor, without medical license or knowledge .. a practice forbidden, providing penalties by law , and border on medical negligence. All without any input, or approval from the Veterans Administration, overstepping those whose authority it belongs, the dedicated VA medical professionals, in the practice of medicine, re-evaluation, and rehabilitation of the veteran. While at the same time violating federal law, 38 USC 5301, 42 USC 1408, and the 14th Amendment. = “Clear and substantial” major damage to federal interests occurs when state court judges make lasting decisions, that seriously impact disabled veterans’ rated compensation and complicate Veterans Administration goals, and responsibilities. Upsetting, by overruling VA medical compensation decisions, which involve many hours of work that VA medical professionals have invested in the medical care, control, follow-up, and rehabilitation of disabled veterans. All this happens with VA complicity, when a state court, arbitrarily is allowed to take away a veterans VA disability compensation in third party alimony awards in violation of….. 38 USC 5301. 42 USC § 407 - Assignment of benefits, carries similar language. = Where is it written, the VA authority, when a state judge can arbitrarily overrule the VA, the VA medical doctors and other medical professionals’ that determine a veterans’ medical rating compensation? His future now without the compensation that was by law assured? Tax payer monies mandated by Congress purposely, as veterans service compensation for injuries received, life altering as they are, now being diverted purposely by state courts to healthy third parties in many cases, in a determined and engaging violation of the law. = Where is it written? Where is the eagerness of state legislators to extend this proposal and eliminate veterans disability compensation from alimony? Opportunity knocks, do the right thing and fight for your disabled veterans.

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