Retirement costly for divorced ex-judge.

            Posted on Feb28,2010  

            Retirement costly for divorced ex-judge.

Q.   I read that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial is forcing former Judge Rudolph Pierce into letting his ex-wife stay on his alimony dole even though he retired at age 65.  So, even though the poor dear ex-wife quit her $95,000-a-year-job, she still got $42,000 in alimony

What's with the courts in Massachusetts?  Can't a guy ever shake an ex-wife?

J.L., Ashby

 A. Before I respond, a quick review:  In his 1999 divorce, Pierce agreed to pay his wife, Carneice 38.6% of his then $450,000 income or $110,000 annual alimony, with modification permitted if there was a substantial change in circumstances.  The parties also split their assets in half.

Once he retired, Pierce sought modification because he was making only $34,000, including $23,000 from Social Security.

At the modification trial Pierce had $1.3 million in assets and Carneice had $923,000. 

The trial judge ruled Carneice couldn't find work and that Pierce could earn $250 an hour if he came out of retirement.  Even though Pierce's income dropped 87 percent, his alimony payment was reduced only by 38 percent, to $42,000.

Here's one kicker:  After the divorce, Pierce married a woman who earned $125,000 and who paid most of his expenses. 

On these and a bunch of other facts and legal points, the SJC decided the trial judge ruled correctly.  The reason:  If Pierce billed for just 200 hours at $250 per hour, "He could earn $50,000, more than enough to pay all his alimony."� 

So, Pierce got a reduction, but not an end to his alimony payments.  C'est la guerre.