Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Massachusetts debate on alimony reform

Tomorrow, the Massachusetts House of Representatives will debate Senate Bill 665, An Act to Reform and Improve Alimony. The bill was heard by the Joint Committee on the Judiciary in May and reported out favorably in June.

I have received many emails supporting the changes spelled out in this bill and very few against. The key components of S665 are:

  • General Term Alimony – Duration limited by formula based on years married:
    • 5 years or less: 50% of the duration of the marriage
    • 5-10 years: 60% of the duration of the marriage
    • 10-15 years: 70% of the duration of the marriage
    • 15-20 years: 80% of the duration of the marriage
    • 20 years or greater: Discretion of the court

  • Adjustments to alimony will be triggered by:
    • Remarriage of the recipient
    • Death of either spouse
    • Cohabitation by recipient (conditions apply)
    • Payer reaching Social Security full retirement age (payments cease)

Other categories of alimony payments are spelled out by the bill, including Rehabilitative, Reimbursement, and Transitional.

If you’re already subject to an alimony agreement, you will have to wait at least a year, and as many as 3½ years, before you can file for a modification.

The law as written would only affect cases over which the courts still have jurisdiction, known as “merged” cases. An amendment being offered by Reps. Harrington and Winslow would allow judges to adjust or stop alimony in all cases where the recipient is cohabitating.

1 comment:

  1. The bill passed 150 to zero this afternoon. The Harrington/Winslow amendment did not pass.


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