Claudette-Jean Girard, Attorney at Law
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Family Law Attorney

I provide experienced legal guidance in family law, divorce and special education law. I represent parents and families throughout western Massachusetts.

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Massachusetts spousal maintenance a family law issue

The debate over the way that military disability benefits are divided in a divorce in Massachusetts or across the country continues after the highest court in the nation refused to hear a recent case on what seems to be an ongoing controversy. As it stands, family law authorities note, states disagree on whether or not to divide the disability payments as a part of income during divorce. Some include the disability benefit as income, while others do not.

In the case that was presented for potential review by the Supreme Court, a disabled soldier argued that he should not have to pay a portion of his disability income to his former spouse in the form of maintenance payments. A local court in his state disagreed, and the income was divided. By appealing the case to the higher court, he had hoped that the lower court ruling would be changed. However, with the court's refusal to hear the matter, he must now pay his former wife her share of the disability income. By refusing to consider the man's appeal, the underlying issues regarding the applicability of military disability payments in alimony calculations may remain unresolved on a national level.

As is the case in other, non-military divorces in Massachusetts, the court looks at the total income of the spouses when determining how much spousal maintenance will be paid. In such family law cases, income from a variety of sources is used in the calculation. In addition, other factors such as the length of the marriage play into the decision regarding spousal maintenance.

How much spousal maintenance to pay and for how long are some of the family law questions facing couples in our state as they go through a divorce. The nature and amount of income that is included in alimony calculations varies, and sometimes depends on the type of income received by the parties. Because of the arguments to be made when determining income, it may do well for a person to review all applicable rules as they go through the process of divorce.

Source:, "Supreme Court won't take Oregon case about alimony and VA disability benefits," Mike Francis, Oct. 2, 2012

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