February 09, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/
-- Massachusetts alimony laws changed after reform efforts
Article provided by Saunders & Saunders, LLP
Visit us at http://www.saundersandsaunderslaw.com
After much concentrated effort and debate, Massachusetts' alimony laws have changed, and the changes apply immediately to alimony judgments entered on March 1, 2012 or later, with the changes potentially applying retroactively for people who seek to modify their alimony judgments at later times in 2013, 2014 and 2015.
The change in how alimony is calculated
Under the new laws, alimony is treated similarly to child support. New guidelines were released that instruct judges to look at several factors, including the spouses' incomes, the duration of the marriage and the spouses' assets when determining how much alimony is ordered and for how long following divorce.
For example, if the marriage lasted less than five years, the term of alimony payments cannot be more than half of the number of months that the marriage lasted. If the marriage lasted 10 years or less but more than five years, alimony may not be awarded for no longer than 60 percent of the number of months of the marriage.
If the marriage ended after 10 to 15 years, alimony may be awarded for a maximum of 70 percent of the number of months of the marriage. If the marriage lasted for 15 to 20 years, the term of the alimony cannot exceed 80 percent of the number of months that the marriage lasted. However, judges retain discretion to order alimony indefinitely for marriages that lasted longer than 20 years.
Cohabitation may permit a change in alimony
In addition, a former spouse's obligation to pay alimony may end if the receiving spouse cohabitates with another individual. This change is designed to avoid situations in which an individual receives support from the person he or she is currently living with as well as his or her former spouse. Alimony may be suspended, reduced or terminated in these cases if the recipient has maintained a common household, as defined by the law, with another person continuously for at least three months.
The revised alimony law is likely to provide more predictability to divorcing spouses. Before, the open question of alimony often made it more difficult for divorcing spouses to settle out of court. Now, however, the new regulations will provide guidance to spouses and their attorneys when negotiating matters such as alimony or child support.
Keeping up with society's changes
Supporters of the revised laws say they reflect a changing society where more women -- historically the main recipients of alimony -- are working and where cohabitation among unmarried couples is more common. They also say the obligation of lifetime support was not flexible enough under old standards to apply reasonably in situations where a payor loses his or her job or retires, for example.
If you are considering getting divorced and are wondering how it may impact you financially, contact an experienced Massachusetts divorce attorney to learn more about your situation. In addition, consult a divorce lawyer if you have an existing alimony judgment and would like to know how these changes may affect you.---
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