ALIMONY REFORM ACT- FACTORS IN DETERMINING LIMITS IN DURATION AND AMOUNT OF ALIMONY

Massachusetts Alimony Attorneys in Franklin and Hyde Park

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.

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

  • For marriages of five (5) years or less- 50% of the number of months of marriage;
  • For marriages of ten (10) years or less but more than five (5) years- 60% of the number of months of marriage;
  • For marriages of fifteen (15) years or less but more than ten (10) years- 70% of the number of months of marriage;
  • For marriages of twenty (20) years or less but more than fifteen (15) years- 80% of the number of months of marriage.

If the length of the marriage is more than twenty (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% to 35% 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.

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 a Alimony Attorney for a free consultation

For more information or to schedule an appointment with an experienced Massachusetts alimony attorney, please contact us. You can call our Franklin office at 508-528-8885, our Hyde Park office at 617-361-5310 or send us an e-mail.