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Becker v. Phelps

Appeals Court of Massachusetts, Middlesex

August 22, 2014

Jill S. Becker
v.
Mont Andrew Phelps

Argued June 2, 2014

Civil action commenced in the Middlesex Division of the Probate and Family Court Department on August 2, 2012.

A motion to dismiss was heard by Dorothy M. Gibson, J., and a motion to alter or amend judgment was considered by her.

Order denying motion to amend judgment affirmed.

Jill S. Becker, pro se.

Brian P. Heneghan for the defendant.

Present: Green, Trainor, & Grainger, JJ.

OPINION

Grainger, J.

The parties, formerly married, raise an interpretive question of first impression under a provision of the Alimony Reform Act of 2011,[1] G. L. c. 208, § 49( a ).

Background .

The facts are uncontested. After eight years of marriage the parties divorced on November 9, 2010. The parties entered into a separation agreement addressing various topics, including the division of marital assets, payment of the expenses of medical insurance and education for the couple's children, and the parties' respective obligations to maintain life insurance. Germane to the issue raised on appeal, the parties also stipulated to two lump sum payments of $500,000 in lieu of periodic alimony payments. The payments were due to be paid by the wife

Page 170

to the husband on or before December 1, 2013, and on or before December 1, 2018. Unpaid amounts were subject to a four percent annual interest payment commencing December 1, 2011. These annual payments were terminable upon the death of either party or upon the payment in full of the two lump sums, whichever occurred earlier. The agreement was incorporated into the judgment of divorce, specifically provided that it would survive the judgment, and contained no other provision for termination of these enumerated obligations.[2]

The husband remarried in June of 2012, after the first four percent annual payment was made. Shortly thereafter the wife filed a complaint for declaratory relief in the Probate and Family Court asserting that all alimony obligations " were terminated by operation of law." She appeals from the dismissal of her complaint and the subsequent denial of her ...


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