Alimony Reform Act

Effective March 1, 2012, all awards of alimony will be based upon specific criteria. Pursuant to the Alimony Reform Act (Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 208, Sections 48-55), judges of the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court now have guidelines to be followed in determining the duration of alimony, including factors that will result in suspension, reduction or termination of alimony.

Factors In Determining Limits In Duration And Amount Of Alimony

The maximum term limits of alimony under the Alimony Reform Act are as follows:

  • For marriages of five years or less — 50 percent of the number of months of marriage
  • For marriages of 10 years or less but more than five years — 60 percent of the number of months of marriage
  • For marriages of 15 years or less but more than 10 years — 70 percent of the number of months of marriage
  • For marriages of 20 years or less but more than 15 years — 80 percent of the number of months of marriage

If the length of the marriage is more than 20 years, the court may order alimony for an indefinite length of time.

In any event, alimony terminates upon the date that the payor reaches the age of retirement as defined by the Social Security Act.

In addition to the above alimony term limits, the Alimony Reform Act also includes factors that a judge is and is not to consider when addressing the issue of alimony.

  • If the recipient spouse cohabitates with another person for at least three continuous months, alimony will be suspended, reduced or terminated
  • Alimony will terminate upon the re-marriage of the person receiving alimony
  • If the payor of alimony takes a part-time job in addition to a full-time job, the income from that job will not be considered for a modification of an alimony order
  • In addition, the income and assets of the payor's spouse from a subsequent marriage will not be considered in any proceeding seeking modification of alimony

As to the amount of alimony, it generally should not be greater than the recipient's need for alimony or 30 percent to 35 percent of the difference between the gross incomes of the parties as of the time of the order for alimony. The amount of alimony can also be reduced if the paying spouse is providing for health insurance and/or life insurance for the benefit of the spouse receiving alimony.

Discretion Of The Judge

Even though the Alimony Reform Act now provides judges with directives to follow when considering actions for alimony, they still retain a great deal of discretion in determining whether to award alimony and, if so, the exact amount of alimony and the length of time that alimony must be paid. If you are facing an action for alimony, either on the paying or receiving end, you want to ensure that you have an experienced alimony attorney on your side.

Contact An Alimony Attorney For A Free Consultation

For more information or to schedule an appointment with an experienced Massachusetts alimony lawyer, please contact the Law Offices of Ira C. Yellin, LLC. You can call our Franklin office at 508-528-8885, or send us an email.