SCOTUS and Same Sex Marriage

To all of you, I wish a happy, healthy, prosperous new year.  There are several matters that are particularly exciting in which I am involved.

  1. Although I have been a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, especially the Massachusetts Chapter, since June 10, 1990, and had held office as well as participated on committees, I had not become involved in the national group whose headquarters is in Chicago, Illinois.  For those of you who are not familiar with the AAML, hopefully you will find that we are involved in activities intended to improve and elevate the practice of matrimonial law.

Because I have always been on the Amicus Curiae Committee in the Massachusetts Chapter, and had written and/or co- written briefs regarding issues of first impression  being argued before the Supreme Judicial Court, I decided  to become a member of the national’s amicus committee.  The difference is instead of filing petitions and briefs to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, I will now file petitions and briefs to the United States Supreme Court.

So how likely would it be that an issue of national significance would grab the attention of the populace of this country, its media and its journalists, as well as the national legal community?  As luck would have it, the AAML Amicus Committee has been invited to write amicus briefs regarding the issues being faced squarely in this current session of the U.S.  Supreme Court: 1. those issue being whether or not a state must issue a marriage license to two individuals regardless of sexual orientation, and 2. whether or not a state must recognize the legitimacy of a same-sex marriage, legally authorized in a foreign state ?

The New York Times reported last week that not since the Supreme Court dealt with the issues of  individual rights to marry regardless of race or color, striking down laws that prohibited whites from marrying people of color, has the Court dealt with such compelling issues.  I feel truly blessed to be part of this historic period in our court system and will be participating by providing my input into the creation of a brief, as a Friend of the Court, to be considered along with those written by attorneys for the parties.

  1. In my home state of Massachusetts, cases are being submitted and some recently decided by the Supreme Judicial Court regarding the Alimony Reform Act of 2011. In Lalchandani v. Roddy, the Supreme Judicial Court held that the Act would have no affect upon a man’s obligation to continue to pay alimony, albeit beyond his 66 birthday.  The  Separation Agreement that was submitted to the  probate court years prior to the new alimony statute provided for his payment until he or his former wife died or she remarried.  Most significant of all, the Agreement that was filed in the probate court at the time of the divorce survived, and therefore could not be modified.

For those of you who are divorcing and there is an alimony provision, you should ascertain if your agreement will merge or survive.  The impact and hence the outcome will be dramatically affected.

So you can see that much is changing in this world of ours regarding laws impacting husbands and wives.  I will write and describe additional new cases as the decisions are issued, as well as my role and outcome of being on the national Amicus committee.


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