Sunday, February 26, 2012

Massachusetts New Alimony Law takes effect March 1, 2012

On March 1, 2012, alimony reform becomes law in Massachusetts. The new law completely changes alimony from the one size fits all that was the law to a more flexible approach with formulas and four categories of alimony. While it will take the courts decades to interpret the new law, there are some known consequences.

Under the new law, fewer people will be receiving alimony. No alimony will be awarded if child support is ordered and the combined income of the parties is less than $250,000.00. This is a major change from previous law when alimony and child support were awarded together. Under the new law, most alimony awards will terminate by age 67. The old law did not have a termination date unless the parties agreed to a specific termination. Since the new law allows some people who are paying alimony under the old law to seek to terminate alimony based on the new law, it is expected that many payors of alimony will seek to terminate their payments.

The new alimony law imposes termination dates on most alimony awards. The law permits lifetime alimony for marriages that lasted more than 20 years. All other marriages have a formula for the length of alimony awards.

The new law has language about the amount of alimony to be awarded which is 30 to 35 % of the payor's income. While I think that this language imposes a maximum level of alimony, lawyers are discussing this as a presumptive amount. No matter which interpretation is used, it will serve to decrease litigation over alimony.

In my opinion, this law changes the law from biased in favor of women to a bias in favor of men. It is an improvement over the old law. However, just as the old law allowed men to overpay alimony, this law is likely to cause women to be under paid. I think that the new law will cause more women to live in poverty as they age out of the work force while their ex-husbands live in comfort. It is important that Massachusetts lawyers look to the potential of poverty as they represent their clients in divorces and they apply the new law.

1 comment:

  1. An interesting discussion is definitely worth comment. I think that you ought to write more about this subject matter, it may not be a taboo subject but usually people do not speak about such issues. To the next! Kind regards!!
    thanks

    ReplyDelete