alimony reform

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts Provides Framework & Guidance for Applying Presumptive Alimony Durational Limits and Deviation Standards.

The Alimony Reform Act of 2011 establishes presumptive time limitation schedules for the payment of alimony based upon the time period in which the parties were married for marriages up to twenty years. The presumptive durational limits in the Alimony Reform Act apply retroactively to alimony awards that pre-date the Act. Divorced spouses who pay alimony may now file a complaint for modification with the appropriate probate and family court, seeking to terminate general term alimony once the durational limits have been met. Given the presumptive time limits on general term alimony, existing alimony orders which exceed the time limitations set forth in the statute must be terminated without a showing of additional material change in circumstances by the moving party, unless the judge finds that a deviation is warranted in the interest of justice. Once the durational limits have been met, the recipient spouse bears the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that a deviation beyond the presumptive termination date set by Alimony Reform Act is required in the interests of justice. In the recent case of George v. George, 476 Mass 65 (2016), the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts took the opportunity to set forth guidelines as to how a probate court judge should apply the interest of justice standard set out in the Alimony Reform Act. The court opined that in order to deviate from the presumptive limits, the judge hearing the case must find that the deviation is necessary by applying the factors

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Terminating Alimony Payments

Under Massachusetts law there are a number of remedies available to spouse who pay alimony to modify, reduce or terminate spousal support. If a spouse who is receiving support remarries or either spouse dies, alimony stops. A spouse who is ordered to pay alimony may be required to get a life insurance policy that will provide support after the paying spouse dies. The length of the parties’ marriage plays a significant role in determining when support payments may terminate. Presumptive Durational Limits Marriages of five years or less allow for support payments of no more than half the number of months of the marriage to an economically dependent spouse. If a marriage lasts more than five years but less than 10 years, support may last for 60 percent of the total number of months that the marriage lasted. Support may be provided for 70 percent of the number of total months of the marriage for marriages of more than 10 years but less than 15 years in duration. This number goes up to 80 percent for marriages of more than 15 years but less than 20 years in duration. Payments may also be terminated if it can be proven that the recipient spouse is cohabiting with and has formed a common household with another person for at least three months. Economic interdependence must be proven along with other factors. Alimony may be terminated or modified for a variety of reasons. Spousal support may be ordered as part of a divorce

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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

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