Family Law Attorneys

How 2011 Alimony Changes Impact Divorcees

In 2011, Governor Deval Patrick signed into law some changes to the alimony laws in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. These were the first time these laws had been changed since 1785. The changes were prompted due to new laws that allowed no fault divorce in the Commonwealth.

Impact of changes

Many people do not understand how these changes impacted divorced couples. Some of the changes that were made included:

  • Alimony for life - this was perhaps the most significant change to alimony. In years past, a spouse was ordered to pay alimony until the other spouse passed away with no regard to their ability to pay. Today, payments stop when a partner reaches retirement age.
  • New spouse recalcuation - when the partner paying alimony was remarried, the receiving partner could request an increase in alimony based on the new spouse's income. This is no longer allowed.
  • New term limits - partners can no longer collect alimony forever. In fact, there were more strict limits put in for marriages under twenty years. While a spouse may collect alimony until retirement age when a marriage has lasted twenty years or more, there is now a cap on the amount of alimony that must be paid for marriages under twenty years that ranges from 50 percent for marriages lasting five years and goes up to 80 percent for marriages lasting fifteen to twenty years.
  • Avoiding remarrying - oftentimes partners who are receiving alimony live with a new partner so as to not impact their alimony payments. Today, the new laws state that alimony may be reduced or eliminated when the receiving partner is cohabitating.

Many of these changes will have an impact on a spouses ability to request a modification of an existing alimony order as well. If you need assistance in determining how these laws impact your existing alimony order or if you need help modifying an existing alimony order, contact the Law Office of Robert W. Kovacs, Jr.. As an experienced Worcester Divorce Attorney, I can help you understand how these changes may impact you.