MBA leaders urge passage of Alimony Reform Act

Issue June 2011

At a May 18 legislative hearing on The Alimony Reform Act of 2011, leaders of the Massachusetts Bar Association urged the bill's passage, saying it would be landmark reform that would help families.

MBA President Denise Squillante, who operates a family law practice in Fall River, said the bill will help avoid costly hearings and trials by helping both sides negotiate alimony. Squillante sat on the Legislative Task Force on Alimony Reform appointed by the Joint Committee on the Judiciary under the leadership of Sen. Cynthia S. Creem and Rep. Eugene L. O'Flaherty. Squillante was also co-chair of an earlier committee of MBA and Boston Bar Association leaders that issued a report on alimony reform in the spring of 2009.

"Families should no longer have to walk through the Probate and Family Court doors and be faced with confusing and obsolete laws, which exacerbates conflict, ultimately hurting families," Squillante said in her written statement to the Joint Committee on the Judiciary. "This legislation would give judges the ability to set a term limit on alimony orders, which is sorely needed. While providing for some predictability, this bill is flexible and comprehensive enough to give judges a critical opportunity to craft decisions that will be in the best interest of families."

Marc E. Fitzgerald, chair of the MBA's Family Law Section and a family law practitioner at Casner and Edwards in Boston, advocated for the bill that brings long-sought durational limits on alimony orders.

The MBA's House of Delegates voted unanimously to support The Alimony Reform Act of 2011 at its Jan. 20 meeting. The MBA's Family Law Section has closely monitored the topic of alimony since the early 1990s, and has in the past filed a series of bills to improve alimony laws.