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Massachusetts Alimony Law Changes

Each state has its own specific and detailed laws in regards to anything that falls under the Family Law tree. Obviously these laws vary state to state, depending on certain instances that only occur and apply to that state, for whatever reason that may be. So, it’s only natural that the state of Massachusetts has its own laws concerning such things as child support and alimony.

However, up until September of 2011, the laws and stipulations concerning alimony were not too kind to those who had to pay it, simply because of the fact that the rules were set in stone and certain circumstances affected those in a divorce quite negatively. That is, of course, until  Governor Deval Patrick signed Chapter 124 of the Acts of 2011. By doing so, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts effectively abolished most lifetime spousal support, thus joining several other states where alimony payment laws have changed. Many of these changes occurred because those who were forced to pay it could not, due to the fact that they were struggling in the current economy.

Significance of the Change

This new change in the measure generally ends alimony either when the payer reaches retirement age or when the recipient has cohabited with a another romantic partner for at least 90 days. With this new law comes a change in how alimony is properly calculated, based on the length of the marriage in question.

This being said the law does still allow judges to award indefinite alimony for long-term marriages. A long-term marriage is defined as a marriage lasting 20 or more years. In the case of short marriages, judges can order “reimbursement alimony” in such situations as when one spouse put the other through school during the length of the marriage.

Why the Change?
This is adjustment to the Massachusetts law was done so to end the previously common practice of judges awarding alimony as a permanent entitlement; such practice is becoming an increasingly rare practice across the U.S because it was seen as highly unjust and unfair. So now, the law sets guidelines for determining the amount of alimony payments. Signed in September 2011, the changes took effect in March 2012, which allows people who are currently paying lifetime alimony to file for modifications starting in 2013.

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