Q. My ex-husband stopped paying alimony earlier this year. Even though our divorce happened before the new alimony law, he said he reached the “durational limit” and, now that he can stop paying alimony, he is going to retire. He is only 50. He wants to retire and travel the world.
Our only child was in a serious accident two years ago and I had to stop working to care for her full time. She is in a wheelchair and has a brain injury. Before the accident she was considered emancipated because she finished college but now she is too old for child support and cannot support herself.
Do I have any recourse to make my ex pay alimony longer?
A. First and foremost, your ex does not have a right to just stop paying alimony even if he thinks the durational limit is met. You can and should file a complaint for contempt for his unilateral decision to stop paying. Make a demand for his financial statement so you can quantify just how much money he has. After all, you have to prove his ability to pay the contempt arrears as part of that case.
To get out of paying alimony, he will need to file a complaint for modification to establish the durational limit based on the length of your marriage. At that, under the statute, you can ask the court to deviate from the durational limit in accordance with M.G.L. chapter 208, Section 53(e)(9). It is the catchall provision which says that the court can deviate based on any circumstances the judge feels is relevant. You will need to prove an ongoing need by an elevated standard of clear and convincing evidence. I suggest making a day in the life video of what you do all day with and for your daughter which prevents you from working in any meaningful capacity. The video along with your financial statement including your daughter’s expenses will paint the needed picture for the judge.
The fact that he has decided to retire at 50 to travel the world while you are back home caring for your child is not going to portray him in the light he likely wants to be seen. My guess is he will come to the bargaining table before this goes to a judge for determination.
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