Wendy Murphy, an adjunct professor at New England School of Law wrote an article at cnn.com which is critical of the new Massachusetts Alimony Reform Law. The article, entitled “New alimony law is bad for women” gives examples of the unfairness of the new law. She equates alimony under the new law to earning a pension.
Ms. Murphy is correct in her criticism of the law but omits an important factor that mitigates against some of the harm. That factor is child support. The law treats child support as supporting the family of the child including the custodial parent. While a woman may not receive alimony she may receive child support for a number of years.
I agree with Ms. Murphy that making alimony a function of time spent in marriage instead of based on more equitable factors is a bad idea. I also think that the old law needed to be changed. As I wrote in an earlier posting, the new law shifts the concept of alimony from pro-woman to pro-man. However, it still needs to be changed to shift the law to a concept that is fair to both genders.
The new law needs to be interpreted by Judges. Until there have been enough cases to explore the new law (expecations are that it will take over twenty years), lawyers will have to press the limits of the law to seek fair and equitable results for clients.