Massachusetts House eyeing additional alimony reforms

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BOSTON >> In an otherwise quiet session, the House gave initial approval to bills reforming the state's alimony law, putting property owners on the hook for problem properties and enhancing notification by those seeking liquor licenses.

The alimony reform bill would prohibit courts from excluding chronic illness, age and tax considerations from their calculation of income for alimony orders, according to a bill summary. Alimony proceedings, which are conducted as part of a divorce, were altered in 2011.

Before the 2011 reform, Massachusetts alimony law derived from 18th century English law and a perspective that wives were the property of their husbands, according the Massachusetts Bar Association, which wrote five years ago that the reform allows courts to adjust the terms of alimony rather than issuing alimony for life.

Another provision of the bill (H 4110), which was initially filed by Rep. John Fernandes, the House chairman of the Judiciary Committee, addresses alimony that was in existence prior to the 2011 law's effective date of March 1, 2012.

Another bill (H 1556) emerging out of the Judiciary Committee and advancing in the House would extend from three years to six years the period of time when potential members of a grand jury may be excluded for prior service as a juror. The bill has been sponsored by Cambridge Democrat Rep. David Rogers.

A bill (H 4115) initially filed by Rep. Bruce Ayers, a Quincy Democrat, would require property owners to pay "reasonable costs" associated with police calls to a property after 10 incidents in a year's span that result in arrests, citations or similar law enforcement action.

Enforcement of the payment provision would be at the discretion of the police chief or other local authority with bills due within 30 days and delinquent payers subject to the state's municipal lien statute.

Legislation (H 257) filed by Springfield Democrat Rep. Angelo Puppolo would require that all those seeking a liquor license or a change in description of the licensed premises would need to notify by registered mail all package stores.

All four bills were advanced to the Committee on Bills in the Third Reading in an informal session on Tuesday and would need to pass the House on another vote if they are to be sent to the Senate for consideration.


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