January 2011 Newsletter

Snow 2011 Sign



In the event a snowstorm or other weather situation occurs, the courts may have a delayed open.  In rare situations, they may close for the day.  During this winter, there have been several days when the court has had delayed openings.  Information is usually publicized on the local news stations, and is also available by calling (800) 222-5178.  You can also access information regarding court closings at  Please use these and other internet resources rather than calling the court for information regarding closures and delays.




The January 2010 newsletter article addressed the current alimony laws in Massachusetts, as well as a brief discussion of the Pierce case.  In that case, a former Massachusetts Superior Court judge, unsuccessfully tried to terminate his alimony obligations to his former wife, when he retired from private practice at the age of sixty-six (66).


For many years, alimony reform groups, and other groups and individuals have cited Massachusetts current alimony laws as vague, archaic, and out of step with most other states' positions.  According to critics of the current laws, they create the unfair and unreasonable likelihood of alimony continuing forever, without consideration of any number of changes in circumstance that could occur to either party, such as cohabitation and/or retirement. This has resulted in some alimony orders extending for many years longer than the length of the actual marriage.


On January 18, 2011, Senator Gale D. Candaras and Representative John V. Fernandes filed an Act to Reform and Improve Alimony.  The Alimony Reform Act of 2011 proposes a number of important revisions, not the least of which is the establishment of new, separate alimony categories and durational time limits, as well as the opportunity to terminate alimony obligations upon retirement. The Act also allows such terms to be revised in the event of an ex-spouse's cohabitation and/or judicial discretion when considering specific facts of the case.


These reforms are the result of recommendations from a Legislative Task Force composed of numerous individuals, including the two sponsors of The Act, Probate & Family Court Chief Justice Paula M. Carey, judges and attorneys.


The recommendations of the Task Force may be found at by clicking here.


The Alimony Reform Act of 2011creates new categories of alimony to address specific situations, including general term alimony, rehabilitative alimony, reimbursement alimony, and transitional alimony. The Act also establishes a formula for limiting alimony awards based on the length of the marriage. Marriages lasting less than five years would require alimony of no more than fifty percent of the marriage's length.  Those between  five and ten years would get alimony for no more than sixty percent of the marriage's length.  In marriages of ten to fifteen years, alimony payment s would increase to seventy percent of the marriage length, and eighty percent for marriages fifteen to twenty years.  Alimony payments would remain indefinite for marriages longer than twenty years.


At the present time the bill awaits assignment to a committee for hearing in the spring. 


On January 7, 2011, Governor Patrick signed into law "An Act Relative to Trusts for the Care of Animals."  This act allows an individual the opportunity to expand their estate planning to include an enforceable trust under Massachusetts law, to provide for the benefit of one or more specific animals.  The new act will be codified at section 3C of Chapter 203 of the General Laws and will be effective ninety days after its enactment.

Prior to the enactment of this law, pet owners had few options as to how to provide for their beloved pets after their owners died.  This Act provides that a trust established for the care of one or more animals existing during the settlor's life is valid following his/her death.  The trustee(s) may use the income and principal for the benefit of the designated animals, but cannot access any trust property other than for the payment of reasonable trustee fees and administration expenses.

For more information regarding this Act, and/or to establish a trust for your beloved pet, please consult an attorney to include it as part of your estate plan.



1.  If you have receive your child support through an implemented wage assignment through the Department of Revenue, or you pay child support through a wage assignment, you are able to view your account online?  You are able to obtain a PIN number from the Department and view your account, including payments, online.


2.  If you feel the Department of Revenue's records are incorrect you can request an administrative review?  That review must be completed in writing.


3.  There is a Department of Revenue website,, where you can obtain information and many forms?


4.  That if the Court orders child support paid to you, you are able to elect to have the Department collect the child support on your behalf?  It is the recipient's decision, not the payor's decision.


5.  That if the parent obligated to pay child support directly to you fails to do so, you can request that child support be paid directly to the Department?  You need to complete a form for services available online or at a DOR Office.


6.  That there are two DOR offices in Brockton?  One is on the second floor of the courthouse at 215 Main Street, and the other is at 110 Mulberry Street.


7.  That if you receive services from the Department of revenue, there is a DOR representative assigned to your case?  You can either call DOR or inquire at one of the offices for that information.


8.  That if you move out of Massachusetts, DOR is able to work with the similar department in your new state to insure you receive your child support?  Keep DOR informed as to any and all address and employment changes.


9.  That if child support is ordered to be paid by wage assignment, it may take a few weeks to establish your account and for you to receive the money?  The employer must be notified, and it takes time to set up the account.  The child support must be made to the Department, and it is "held" until the account is established, and then all monies in your account will be released.


10.  That if a person is self employed you can still have DOR service your account?  The payor has to submit payments directly to the Department, and the Department will collect the monies for you, and then release them as they receive them.


Issue: 23

scales of justice

In This Issue
Update on Alimony Reform
Animal Lovers, Take Note!
Did You Know . . .?
Join Our Mailing List
Need a Speaker?
Questions?  Comments?
Feel free to visit our website or email the office.

If anyone has a topic that would be of general interest, please do not hesitate to contact the office and let us know what items would be of general interest to the readers of this newsletter.
Susan C. Ryan, Esq.
Law Office of Susan Castleton Ryan, PC
(781) 982-8850

This newsletter is designed to keep you up-to-date with changes in the law.  For help with these or any other legal issues, please call our firm today.
The information in this newsletter is intended solely for your information .  It does not constitute legal advice, and it should not be relied on without a discussion of your specific situation with an attorney.