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2013 brings new change to existing alimony laws

This year changes pertaining to the current alimony laws in Massachusetts were announced. These changes could directly affect many divorced individuals in the Boston area and throughout the state who are currently paying (or receiving) alimony.

The law is scheduled to take effect on March 1, 2013.

The new laws apply to couples who were married 20 years or less. These changes could affect many divorced retirees who are currently paying spousal support. The result could mean that their current obligation will be reduced or even eliminated altogether.

At this time, there are various forms of alimony that can be ordered during a divorce. For example, one type is known as transitional alimony. This form is for couples whose marriage did not make the five-year mark. Its intention is to provide a financial "transition" from the lifestyle the obligee (spouse receiving payment) became accustomed to during marriage to that of a single wage household.

Another form of alimony is referred to as rehabilitative alimony. This form of support assists the recipient in learning new job schools either through training or education so he or she can become "economically self-sufficient."

Finally, there is reimbursement alimony. The obligor (the person paying alimony) is responsible for reimbursing the obligee for his or her contribution to the marriage through a one-time payment or a series of periodic payments. This form of spousal support is also for marriage of less than five years.

There is also what is referred to as general term alimony. This form of alimony will now be the subjected to a formula that considers the length of marriage and the length of time the obligor will be required to make payments.

Along with the previously mentioned types of spousal support, there will also be new considerations when defining the extension or termination of an existing order. For example, when a payor reaches retirement age his or her financial obligation to their former spouse will end.

There are many changes with the new Massachusetts Alimony Reform Act and this post only covers the very basics. It is also important to understand that each couple's situation is unique and it is ultimately up to a judge's discretion when or if an existing order can be modified or a new order is applicable.

  • The subject matter of this post is one of many that are handled by our firm. To learn more about our practice, please visit our Essex County spousal support page.

Source: Gate House News Service, "Guest column: Major changes in coming alimony law," Regina Snow Mandl, Nov. 19, 2012

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