Massachusetts rolls out new alimony reform laws

As of March 1, 2012 the newest alimony reform went into effect in Massachusetts. Many divorced couples are now checking their divorce papers in order to try to figure out if the new laws could apply to them. Other couples contemplating divorce are also curious as to how the new changes could impact their divorce going forward.

But, if you are paying alimony at this time, don’t jump the gun just yet. Those payors must wait until Mar. 1, 2013 before a modification can be filed with the court. Many others may have to wait as long as Sept. 1, 2015 before they can file a change in their current alimony. Regardless, many are wondering, what changed?

Key requirements of the new law take into account the length of the marriage. Depending on how long the couple was married is directly related to the percentage of time alimony will be paid. For example, if a couple was married for a total of three years, alimony is limited to 50 percent of the number of months married. In this instance, the total alimony duration would be 18 months. Additional breakdown of durational limits are as follows:

  • 10 years but more than 5 years = 60 percent of the number of months married
  • 15 years but more than 10 years = 70 percent of the number of months married
  • 20 years but more than 15 years = 80 percent of the number of months married

It’s important to note however, that the limits above are considered “outer limits.” Ultimately, the implementation of alimony is up to the judge’s discretion. Too, if a couple was married for more than 20 years the court has the authority to determine the appropriate amount of alimony to be paid, if any at all.

Other considerations now made by the new law are whether the couple lived together before they got married and if the payor has reached the age of retirement — now age 66.

As you can see there are a lot of new changes going forward in Massachusetts’ new Alimony Reform Act. The law itself was signed by the governor Sept. 2011, so many couples and their attorneys are aware of the changes that took effect and whether they will impact their ongoing divorce proceedings.

Source:, “Massachusetts’ new alimony legislation is now in effect,” Robin Lynch Nardone, Mar. 2, 2012

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