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The Law offices of Miriam G. Altman, P.C. regularly reviews developments in Massachusetts family law reported cases. Below are summaries of noteworthy recently reported cases.

Morales v. Morales, 464 Mass. 507, 984 N.E. 2d 748 (2013)

In Morales v. Morales, the Supreme Judicial Court held that a modification of child support is presumptively in order whenever there is an inconsistency between the amount of child support that is to be paid under the existing order and the amount that would be paid under an application of the child support guidelines. The Supreme Judicial Court ruled that the trial court had erred in requiring a material change in circumstances.

Read more: Morales v. Morales

LJS v JES, 464 Mass. 346, 982 N.E. 2d 1160 (2013)

In L.J.S. v J.E.S., the Supreme Judicial Court held that if an issue of tax consequences has been raised, and appropriate evidence of the same has been presented to the court, the court must consider those tax consequences when creating an alimony order. 

The parties’ judgment of divorce provided, in part, that the wife occupy the marital home until the youngest child graduates high school. At that time, the marital home would be listed for sale. Upon the sale of the home, the husband’s alimony would significantly decrease. However, under I.R.C. § 71(c)(2) alimony payments may be re-characterized as non-deductible child support for tax purposes if the amount is reduced on a contingency relating to a child (such as attaining a specified age, marrying or leaving school). As a result, the husband moved to alter or amend the judgment, and requested, among other things, that the future reduction of alimony not depend upon a child-related event.The trial court, determining that I.R.C. § 71 (c) (2) did not apply, issued an order which did not include the husband’s proposal regarding alimony.The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the trial court’s order.

Read more: LFS v JES

ECO v. Gregory J. Compton, 464 Mass. 558, 984 N.E. 2d 787 (2013)

In ECO. v. Compton, a father obtained a MGL .c. 209A Abuse Prevention Order against the Defendant, a 24 year old man, to prevent his 16 year old daughter from engaging in voluntarily sexual relations with the Defendant. Although the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court held that a “substantive dating relationship” existed, the Order was vacated as the Defendant’s conduct did not rise to the level of “abuse” required under the statute.

The 16 year old daughter met the 24 year old Defendant, a citizen of the United Kingdom, while traveling in Europe. Following her return to the United States, the two maintained contact via email, Skype and social media. In their communications, the Defendant revealed intentions to engage in sexual conduct with the daughter and also suggested that he might supply her with alcohol. After the Defendant made plans to visit Boston, the father filed for a 209A, and the Defendant was served while in Massachusetts.

Read more: ECO v. Gregory J. Compton

Co-Authors

Miriam G. Altman and Kelly A. Riordan are co-authors of “Department of Children and Families Reports in Divorce, Modification, and Paternity Custody Case Trials,” Massachusetts Family Law Journal, Volume 27, Issue No. 5, September, 2009.