On September 26, 2011, Governor Deval Patrick signed the Alimony Reform into law. Following the trend of other states, this new Massachusetts law clearly sets out different kinds of alimony, including setting alimony term limits, where the ex-spouse is expected to become self-sufficient within a certain time period.
1. Alimony Term Limits
Long-term marriages (more than 20 years): Alimony will end at retirement age as defined by the Social Security Act.
5 years or less: Maximum Alimony term is 50% of the number of months of marriage.
10 years or less but greater than 5 years: Maximum Alimony term is 60% of the number of months of marriage.
15 years or less but greater than 10 years: Maximum Alimony term is 70% of the number of months of marriage.
20 years or less but greater than 15 years: Maximum Alimony term is 80% of the number of months of marriage.
Other term limits apply for “RehabilitativeÂ Alimony, “Reimbursement Alimony”, and “Transitional Alimony”.
2. Second Wife’s (Husband’s) Income and Assets Excluded
“In the event of the payer’s remarriage, income and assets of the payer’s spouse shall not be considered in a re-determination of alimony in a modification action.”
3. Co-Habitation Suspends, Reduces, or Terminates Alimony
“General Term Alimony shall be suspended, reduced or terminated upon the cohabitation of the recipient spouse when the payer shows that the recipient has maintained a common household with another person for a continuous period of at least three months.”
4. Child Support: Gross Income is Excluded From Alimony
For purposes of setting an alimony order, the court shall exclude from its income calculation gross income which the court has already considered for setting a child support order…”
5. Child Support: Alimony Term is Co-Terminus with Child Support
“Where the Court orders alimony concurrent with or subsequent to a child support order, the combined duration of alimony and child support shall not exceed the longer of: (i) the alimony duration available at the time of divorce; or (ii) rehabilitative alimony commencing upon the termination of child support. “
6. Alimony Amount is Limited
“… the amount of alimony should generally not exceed the recipient’s need or 30 percent to 35 percent of the difference between the parties gross incomes established at the time of the order being issued.”
7. A Second Job or Overtime Income is Not Included in Alimony Modification
“Income from a second job or overtime work shall be presumed immaterial to alimony modification if:
(1) A party works more than a single full-time equivalent position; and
(2) The second job or overtime commenced after entry of the initial order.”
8. Payment of Health Insurance and/or Life Insurance Reduces Alimony Payment
In setting an initial alimony order, or in modifying an existing order, the court may deviate from duration and amount limits for General Term Alimony and Rehabilitative Alimony upon written findings that deviation is necessary. Grounds for deviation may include:
(3) Whether the payer spouse is providing health insurance and the cost of health insurance for the recipient spouse;
(4) Whether the payer spouse has been ordered to secure life insurance for the benefit of the recipient spouse and the cost of such insurance;
9. Alimony Term Extensions Are Limited And Require Clear And Convincing Evidence
“The court may grant a recipient an extension of an existing alimony order for good cause shown. In granting extension, the court must enter written findings of:
(i) A material change of circumstance that occurred after entry of the alimony judgment; and (ii) Reasons for the extension that are supported by clear and convincing evidence.
Alimony Ends with the Remarriage of the Alimony Recipient
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Contact us if you have questions regarding how the new Massachusetts Alimony Reform Law will affect your divorce agreement. Our divorce attorneys serve the entire Greater Boston Massachusetts region and have law offices in downtown Boston, as well as in the Boston Metrowest communities of Framingham and Dover. Contact our divorce attorneys now for a consultation and advice on the next steps in the legal process.