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The Massachusetts Alimony Reform Act, which was signed into law on September 26, 2011, and goes into effect on March 1, 2012, provides judges with more guidance and limits their discretion, with the hope of achieving more consistency and predictability in alimony awards. The law breaks down alimony into different types, each addressing particular financial circumstances. It also includes retirement provisions, generally mandating termination of alimony when the payor reaches full retirement age.

Alimony is a key issue in divorce and can be worth significant amounts of money. Massachusetts Alimony Attorney Bill Farias is a skilled, aggressive divorce lawyer that will ensure that you get a favorable alimony judgment in your case to put you in the best financial position possible walking away from your divorce.

In addition to a retirement provision, the new Massachusetts Alimony Law also includes provisions for cohabitation and term limits to help ensure fair alimony awards.

Alimony Factors

The following factors are used to determine the form of alimony and in setting the amount and duration of support:

  1. Length of Marriage
  2. Health
  3. Age of the parties
  4. Income
  5. Employment and employability of the parties, including employability through reasonable diligence and additional training
  6. Economic & non economic contributions of the parties
  7. Marital lifestyle
  8. Ability of each party to maintain the marital lifestyle
  9. Lost economic opportunity as a result of the marriage

Different Types of Massachusetts Alimony

Rehabilitative Alimony: to be used when the receiving spouse is expected to become economically self-sufficient by a certain time (finishing school or job training, becoming re-employed etc.). Can be used regardless of the duration of the marriage, but has a 5 year limit. 

Reimbursement Alimony: used to compensate the recipient spouse for contributing to the financial resources of the payor during the marriage, such as enabling the attainment of education or job training. It’s only available in marriages 5 years and shorter. 

Transitional Alimony: used to help the receiving spouse transition to an adjusted lifestyle or location after the divorce. It’s only available in marriages 5 years and shorter, and only for a maximum of 3 years. 

General Term Alimony: this is the default alimony classification, and is generally used to provide for an economically dependent spouse. The following time limits are included in the statute to ensure alimony awards are proportionate to the length of the marriage:

Length of Marriage Maximum Length of Alimony
5 years or less 50% the number of months of marriage
more than 5 years up to 10 years 60% the number of months of marriage
more than 10 years up to 15 years 70% the number of months of marriage
more than 15 years up to 20 years 80% the number of months of marriage
longer than 20 years Indefinite (except for retirement provision)

How Much Alimony Will I Have to Pay?

The law limits alimony to the receiving spouse’s need or 30-35% of the difference between the spouses’ gross incomes.

Judges have the discretion to deviate from the suggested amount and time limits only if necessary, and they must make written findings discussing their decision. The grounds a judge can use for deviation include: advanced age; illness; taxes; health insurance; life insurance; unearned income; premarital cohabitation; physical or mental abuse; lack of property, maintenance, or employment opportunity; among others.

Massachusetts Alimony Retirement Provision

Divorcees in Massachusetts generally will no longer be required to work beyond retirement age just to pay alimony awards. Alimony orders will now terminate in most cases when the payor reaches full retirement age. Judges may, however, under certain circumstances, set a different retirement age in the judgment.

Massachusetts Alimony Cohabitation Rule

Judges now must suspend, reduce or terminate alimony if the receiving spouse is cohabiting with someone else. “Cohabiting” is the maintaining of a common household with another person for a continuous period of at least 3 months. The law doesn’t state that the cohabitation rule applies only to sexual relationships. However, the judge can reinstate the alimony award when cohabitation ends.

Modification of Existing Alimony Orders

Divorcees that currently have judgments in place that exceed the duration limits of the new alimony law may be entitled to a modification of the alimony award. To prevent a sudden, overbearing influx of cases into the court system, the new law provides an eligibility schedule that is based on the length of the marriage: those that were in shorter marriages can file with the court earlier, and those that had longer marriages must wait longer – this also gives the receiving spouse more time to prepare for the adjustment.

To give yourself the best chance of a favorable alimony judgment, contact Massachusetts Alimony Lawyer Bill Farias for a CONSULTATION at (508) 675-0464 or submit the contact form on this page. His aggressive representation will ensure you get the alimony settlement you deserve.

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