The Massachusetts Alimony Reform Act impacts all divorces in the state. Although it’s not a brand new act (was enacted back in 2011), it includes some key provisions regarding term limits, child support, and remarriage. If you are going through a divorce or are facing the prospect of one, you should be aware of this law. Here’s a brief overview of the Massachusetts Alimony Reform Act of 2011 and how it could impact your life and the decisions that you make.

Term Limits

Let’s start with how the length of your marriage factors in to the equation. Alimony payment timeframes have always been tied to the length of marriage. However, this new law imposed much tighter restrictions on payments. Depending on the length of your marriage, the percentages decline with the number of months married. For example, alimony for long term marriages (defined as more than 20 years) will end at retirement age. Alimony for marriages of 5 years or less continue for no more than half the length of the marriage. Calculations are based on months (rather than years).

Child Support

In cases where children are involved and child support is ordered, alimony payments do not necessarily follow the rules noted above. Alimony could extend for the same length of time that child support payments are due. As defined by the law, “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. ”

Cohabitation and/or Remarriage

It’s common after divorce for an ex-spouse to enter into a new relationship. That relationship may get serious and may result in a shared living arrangement (co-habitation) or even remarriage. If the recipient of alimony maintains a common household with a new partner for 3 or more months, this could reduce or eliminate alimony. Remarriage is often grounds for termination of alimony payments. This makes sense. If an ex-spouse is living with and receiving financial support from a new spouse, he/she should not need continued support from an ex-spouse.

Extensions and Changes

Alimony may be extended or changed for several reasons. First, if the person paying alimony experiences a change in income (by a certain percentage), that may change alimony. Alimony can also change based on need. For example, if the person receiving alimony is fighting an illness and/or is facing steep medical expenses, an extension may be granted. Any request to change alimony must be requested along with clear and convincing evidence that a change is warranted.

More on the 2011 Massachusetts Alimony Reform Act

These are just a few key components to the Massachusetts Alimony Reform Act. If you have questions about your specific situation, potential alimony payments, or circumstances that may affect alimony, it’s best to work with a Massachusetts divorce attorney. Contact us to schedule a consultation and to learn more about how the Alimony Reform Act impacts your upcoming divorce.