Calculating the Length of Marriage When There Has Been a Period of Separation: Kareores v. Kareores

The Supreme Judicial Court recently heard oral arguments on a case that applies an uncommon fact pattern with the Alimony Reform Act of 2011.  In Kareores v. Kareores (video of oral arguments here; briefs here), the husband and wife were divorced, and the husband paid “family support” to the wife.  Some time later, the then-former husband moved back in with the then-former wife.  His “family support” obligation was still paid, and used towards household expenses.  After five and a half years of post-divorce cohabitation, they remarried.  Six months later, their second divorce commenced.

p-2.txtIn calculating the duration of a general term alimony obligation, the duration of the marriage can control, subject to deviation by the trial judge in the interests of justice.  M.G.L. c. 208, §49(b).  A trial judge may further deviate from the duration limits, as spelled out byM.G.L. c. 208, §49(b), for “significant premarital cohabitation that included economic partnership or marital separation of significant duration, each of which the court may consider in determining the length of the marriage.”  M.G.L. c. 208, §53(e)(6).

The Supreme Judicial Court is left to determine how to calculate the length of the marriage for the current divorce action, given these distinctly different periods in the parties’ relationship:

  1. First marriage
  2. After first divorce, prior to cohabitation
  3. Cohabitation after first divorce
  4. Second marriage to each other

We will of course be following this case closely, as it will likely provide some insight into what to look for in determining whether an economic partnership existed prior to a marriage, or during a period of separation during a marriage.

If you have any questions about alimony in Massachusetts, call 781 484-1066 or email the attorneys at Finn & Eaton, P.C. to schedule a free initial consultation.

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