DEREK L. YOUNG
JOY G. YOUNG (and a consolidated case).
Heard: March 6, 2017.
and Separation, Alimony, Findings.
for divorce filed in the Norfolk Division of the Probate and
Family Court Department on January 29 and February 5, 2013.
consolidation, the case was heard by Jennifer M.R.
Ulwick, J. The Supreme Judicial Court on its own
initiative transferred the case from the Appeals Court.
H. Lee (Jessica M. Dubin also present) for the husband.
E. Cherny (Erin M. Shapiro also present) for the wife.
Sanford Durland, III, & Glenn M. Schley, amici curiae,
submitted a brief.
Jennifer C. Roman & Johnathan P. Diggin, for Women's
Bar Association, amicus curiae, submitted a brief.
Present: Gants, C.J., Lenk, Hines, Gaziano, Lowy, & Budd,
Probate and Family Court judge in this divorce action made
two rulings that are the primary subjects of this appeal.
First, the judge found that, where the husband's income
from his employment was "on an upward trajectory, "
the wife may only maintain a standard of living
"consistent with the marital lifestyle (which was one
where the parties['] needs expanded in accordance with
the increasingly available income)" by an award of
general term alimony that increases commensurate with the
increase in the husband's income. Second, the judge found
that, because of "the complex nature of [the
husband's] compensation over and above his base salary
and bonus, " and because of "the constantly
shifting nature of [the husband's] compensation, "
"it is reasonable and fair in the circumstances" to
award alimony to the wife in the amount of thirty-three per
cent of the husband's gross income, rather than a fixed
conclude that, where the supporting spouse (here, the
husband) has the ability to pay, the need for support of the
recipient spouse (here, the wife) under general term alimony
is the amount required to enable her to maintain the standard
of living she had at the time of the separation leading to
the divorce, not the amount required to enable her to
maintain the standard of living she would have had in the
future if the couple had not divorced. We also conclude that,
although there might be circumstances where it is reasonable
and fair to award a percentage of the supporting spouse's
income as general term alimony to the recipient spouse, those
circumstances are not present in this case. We therefore
remand the case to the Probate and Family Court with
instructions to reevaluate the alimony judgment in light of
our opinion and enter a new judgment
L. Young (husband) and Joy G. Young (wife) had been married
for nearly twenty-four years when the husband filed a
complaint for divorce in the Probate and Family Court in
January, 2013. The wife filed a complaint for divorce one
week later, and the two actions were effectively treated as
one. In October, 2013, the judge ordered the husband to pay
temporary alimony in the amount of $48, 950 per month. After
a four-day trial, the judge made voluminous findings of fact
and issued an amended judgment of divorce on September 25,
2015. We summarize only those findings relevant to the issues
judge found that the husband works as a "high level
executive" with a financial institution who receives
substantial compensation in various forms. Apart from his
annual base salary (which was $350, 000 in 2014) and an
annual bonus (which was $1.6 million in 2013), he receives
compensation through at least seven different compensation
programs or share plans, including several types of stock
options, a special bonus program, investor entity units, and
opportunities to purchase shares of common stock at a
discount. The compensation programs vary in how consistently
they produce income and in the amount of income they produce.
Some investment assets that are earned are liquid and
immediately transferrable, and some may not be transferred or
converted to cash until sometime in the future. The amount
earned, above and beyond the base salary and annual bonus,
through these compensation ...