Trustee Process – Massachusetts Divorce and Separate Support
In divorce and separate support actions, a party may seek to secure potential financial support obligations by another party by initiating what is called a “trustee process”. In civil cases, there is a prohibition against bringing actions against disposable earnings. However, there is no such restriction in divorce cases. This occurs when a person not a party to the action, here called the trustee, is in possession of property, goods, effects or credits of the support obligor.
The trustee process to secure potential financial support is available when no other effective remedy is available to reach the disposable earnings of the obligor. (M.G.L.A. c. 208, § 32; 36A). These trustee process actions may be brought by a spouse, a parent, custodian, guardian of a child, or by a probation officer, or even by the state.
The trustee process may also to enforce a support order against a retirement plan asset, which are typically exempt from attachment.
As with the attachment procedure in general, the support obligor is entitled to a hearing on the issue. The court may only allow the trustee process on the specific grounds stated in Mass.R.Dom.Rel.P. 4.2(g).
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