Boston Magazine has a great article about alimony in Massachusetts. By the time you’re done reading it, you’ll be willing to stay in a dead-end marriage rather than getting divorced in Massachusetts:
When an alimony case comes up before a judge, the focus is almost exclusively on the wealthier ex-spouse’s ability to shell out, and hardly ever on the recipient’s ability to fund his or her own needs. … But unlike in most states–and every other state in New England–here judges historically do not assume any income for the recipient, even if he or she is able to work but chooses not to. (In fact, Massachusetts’ alimony system doesn’t even conform with state rules for other areas of family law. In child support cases, recent reforms explicitly encourage the judge to impute potential income to a recipient if the judge believes the recipient is shirking higher-paying work.)
For all this, what really sticks in the craw of would-be reformers is that alimony in Massachusetts is so often a burden without end…. [I]n Massachusetts: The only way judges here will set a cutoff for alimony is if it is tied to a specific event, like the recipient’s remarriage, death, or new inheritance. And since judges cannot predict what a recipient’s financial circumstances will be at a point in the future, most simply award indefinite alimony and leave it to the payor to seek modification. The vast majority of judges who do want to set a duration get overturned on appeal, so few ever try.
Ouch. Do gays and lesbians in Massachusetts really want to sign up for this? On its face, this alimony scheme seems to make divorce a one way ticket to financial ruin for the spouse with higher earnings. What God has joined together let no man put asunder — unless that man is willing to pay through the nose for the rest of his natural life.
After the jump, why hasn’t this medieval law been changed already?
Many moons ago, when I was a law student, I took Divorce Law based solely on the fact that the professor, who was a New York practitioner, brought in one of his celebrity clients to answer questions on the last day of class. My year, the professor rolled up with James Gandolfini, who, when asked how he could possibly justify going from The Sopranos to Surviving Christmas, intimated that a man had to pay his bills and that — sneaking a glance at the professor, corpulent and clad in horn-rimmed glasses, suspenders and an exquisitely form-fitting monogrammed Bill Lumbergh shirt — divorce is costly.
The Baby Boomers (the generation that was dealt a resounding defeat last week) is also sometimes called the “Sandwich Generation.” Boomers like to claim that they are the first generation (in the history of “ever” apparently) to have to take care of both their parents and their children while they are still working.
Inter-generational aspersions aside, Goodwin Procter is actually doing something that should help Boomers out. They’ve instituted a very interesting new benefits package:
Free, round-the-clock access to a telephone support center that provides information on services for the elderly, the disabled, and the family members who care for them.
This is a program that could actually help attorneys. As anybody who has ever served as a part-time caretaker/full-time worker can attest to, getting the appropriate information is half the battle.
This advertisement, from tiny divorce and bankruptcy firm Davis and Millard, appeared in an Atlanta magazine in June:
We get confusing messages. With the curly font and all the pink, it seems like it should be an ad for lip gloss for teens. But the menacing way the woman grips that rolling pin puts fear in our hearts. The color motif and menace bear a striking similarity to this Serial Mom movie poster.
The text at the top of the ad — “Moving on means never having to talk to your mother-in-law again” — reminds us a bit of this earlier advertisement: “Life’s short. Get a divorce.”
Remember this attorney, who announced the dissolution of his law partnership in most unorthodox fashion? We sure do (and so does “Tim from Anaconda”).
Our friends out west are idiosyncratic when it comes to office decor, too. From a piece by Debra Cassens Weiss for the ABA Journal:
A Montana lawyer said his decision to put a shark tank in his office started out as a joke.
“I said, ‘What would it take to put a shark in a lawyer’s office?’ and it just kind of took off from there,” lawyer Christopher Gillette told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.
Workers hoisted the 1,000-gallon aquarium through the second-story window of Gillette’s new office in downtown Bozeman on Monday. He plans to fill the tank with a blacktip reef shark and other saltwater fish, including a venomous lionfish.
Forget mediation. Nothing brings about settlement as quickly as the prospect of being devoured by a blacktip reef shark. With a venomous lionfish on hand to clean up any leftovers.
Gillette, who practices family law, says he thinks clients will find the tank to be relaxing. “People seem to be comfortable with fish,” he told the newspaper.
Others will get a chance to watch the marine life, too. Gillette plans to install a camera and broadcast video of his fish tank beginning in February at www.cjgillettelaw.com and www.ccaqua.com.
Britney Spears’ lawyers in her custody battle with ex-husband Kevin Federline are quitting. The law firm Trope and Trope asked a court Wednesday to be relieved as Spears’ attorneys. The firm says there’s been a “breakdown” in communication with the pop princess that makes representing her “impossible,” according to the filing, obtained by CelebTV.com.
Structured finance lawyers, it’s time to put down those securitization agreements and pick up Us Weekly. Representing the embattled pop star is a growing practice area:
On a separate legal front, an attorney for Spears wants the city attorney’s office to prove that the pop star is a permanent California resident and is subject to state laws that require her to have a valid California driver’s license.
Spears faces up to a year of probation if convicted in a misdemeanor case of driving without a valid license, a charge to which she has pleaded not guilty. The case stems from a videotaped fender-bender in a parking lot in August. A hit-and-run charge has been dismissed.
Spears attorney J. Michael Flanagan earlier Wednesday requested that prosecutors be required to demonstrate that Spears, who owns homes in Louisiana and Florida, intends to make Los Angeles her permanent legal home.
Of course she does — Britney Spears is the quintessential Californian.
Now if only the judicial system would just leave… Britney… alone!!!
Rapidly climbing the Most Emailed Articles list over at the New York Times is an op-ed entitled Taking Marriage Private, by Professor Stephanie Coontz. It includes an interesting history of the legal regulation of marriage (which Coontz observes is a fairly recent phenomenon):
Why do people — gay or straight — need the state’s permission to marry? For most of Western history, they didn’t, because marriage was a private contract between two families….
The American colonies officially required marriages to be registered, but until the mid-19th century, state supreme courts routinely ruled that public cohabitation was sufficient evidence of a valid marriage. By the later part of that century, however, the United States began to nullify common-law marriages and exert more control over who was allowed to marry.
By the 1920s, 38 states prohibited whites from marrying blacks, “mulattos,” Japanese, Chinese, Indians, “Mongolians,” “Malays” or Filipinos.
Readers of ATL disagreevehemently over the existence of God. But if God does exist, he has a delightfully sick sense of humor. From ABC News:
Twin brothers Raymon and Richard Miller are the father and uncle to a 3-year-old little girl. The problem is, they don’t know which is which. Or who is who. The identical Missouri twins say they were unknowingly having sex with the same woman. And according to the woman’s testimony, she had sex with each man on the same day. Within hours of each other.
When the woman in question, Holly Marie Adams, got pregnant, she named Raymon the father, but he contested and demanded a paternity test, bringing his own brother Richard to court.
But a paternity test in this case could not help. The test showed that both brothers have over a 99.9 percent probability of being the daddy— and neither one wants to pay the child support. The result of the test has not only brought to light the limits of DNA evidence, it has also led to a three-year legal battle, a Miller family feud and a little girl who may never know who her real father is.
Très trashy — but there’s an actual legal issue here. How was it decided?
Find out, after the jump.
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: [email protected].
Since late last year, things have been booming in Hong Kong / China in cap markets, especially Hong Kong IPOs. M&A deal flow has recently been getting a bit stronger as well. Although one can’t predict such things with any certainty, all signs are pointing to a banner entire 2014 for the top end US corporate and cap markets practices in Hong Kong / China. This is not really new news, as its been the feeling most in the market have had for a few months now and things continue to look good.
The head of our Asia practice, Evan Jowers, has been in Hong Kong for about 10 days a month (with trips every other month to both Shanghai and Bejing) for the past 7 months (Robert Kinney and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong again March 15 to 23), and spending most of his time there meeting with senior US hiring partners at just about all the major US and UK firms there, as well as prospective candidates at all associate levels and partner levels, and when in the US, Evan works Asia hours and is regularly on the phone with such persons, as our the other members of our Asia team. Our Yuliya Vinokurova is in Hong Kong every other month and Robert is there about 5 times a year as well. While we have a solid Asia team of recruiters, Evan Jowers will spend at least some time with all of our candidates for Asia position. We have had long standing relationships, and good friendships in some cases, with hiring partners and other senior US partners in Asia for 8 years now.
Are you challenged by the costs and logistics of maintaining your office, distracting you from the practice of law?
Many small firms are successfully moving part—or even all—of their practice to a virtual setting. This even includes multi-jurisdictional practice spanning several states and practice areas, although solo and small partnerships are still the largest adopters of virtual law.
Can you do the same? The new article Mobile in Practice, Virtual by Design from author Jared Correia, Esq., explores how mobile technology bring real-life benefits to a small law firm. Read this new article—the next in Thomson Reuters’ Independent Thinking series for small firms—to explore how a mobile practice:
Everyone is talking about the importance of Social Media in Corporate America. But it is relatively safe to say that most law firms and lawyers are slightly behind the social curve. Most lawyers, at minimum, use LinkedIn, for networking. Some even use Twitter for pushing out short, pithy content, while many have Blogs, where they write their little hearts out. The adage “it is better to give than to receive” is not always true though in the world of Social. In the Social World – it is best to listen, give back and engage.
Social Media is a communications tool that can deeply educate you about the needs and wants of your clients and prospects when used in conjunction social media monitoring and sharing tools.
Take this quick quiz and see if you know how to use Social to help you engage more with your clients or to better service the ones you have.