The poster child for progressive marriage laws, Massachusetts is also a singularly nightmarish place to get a divorce—especially for the better-off spouse. Now a brewing reform movement is pushing to rewrite the state's outdated alimony rules, led by one very fed-up ex-husband....
.....Despite these dire straits—Hitner relies on his second wife, Jeanie, to pay most of the household expenses plus the part of the monthly alimony bill he can't cover—he isn't optimistic that Judge Kaplan will be moved. Four years ago, he'd sought a modification from this same judge. "I told her, 'I really need help here, because I'm running out of credit cards to borrow on to pay this alimony,'" says Hitner. "The judge's response was, like, 'Lemme know when you run out of credit cards and I'll put you in jail.'"
He ended up filing for bankruptcy in December 2006. A separate court battle with Joan (who declined to be interviewed for this article) over stock in his company has dragged on for 10 years. Hitner estimates that he's spent, at minimum, $200,000 in legal costs just to get where he is today. Which is to say, exactly where he was in 1999.
Note: Steve Hitner is part of the Massachusetts Chapter of the Alliance for Freedom From Alimony, Inc. www.alimonyreform.org