Karen M. Buckley
Alimony Reform (Finally) Comes To Massachusetts
On Monday, September 26, 2011, Governor Deval Patrick signed House Bill No. 3617 into law, with an effective date of March 1, 2012. The Alimony Reform Law, as it is known, significantly changes how alimony is calculated in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and how long payments will be made. You can obtain a copy of the law HERE. The following are some of the most significant changes contained in the legislation:
Types of Alimony: The law recognizes different types of alimony, such as transitional, reimbursement, rehabilitative and general term.
Durational Limits: For the first time, the law sets forth a formula to determine how long alimony will be paid.
Alimony Cap: The statute sets forth a formula for calculation of alimony: no more than 30-35% of the difference in incomes of spouses.
Definition of Income: The law has an expansive definition of income (see child support guidelines), but specifically EXCLUDES: income from assets that had been divided in the divorce, income and assets of a new spouse when a party seeks a modification of alimony, and income used to pay child support.
Termination Events: Retirement and cohabitation are two events that can be basis for terminating alimony.
Staggered Phase-In: In order to deal equitably with alimony judgments previously issued that do not conform with the standards in the new law, the statute has a three-year phase-in for complaints for modification if the basis for change is solely because the amount and/or duration under the current order is greater than under the new statute.
Right to Seek Modification Based on Retirement: If a payor is or is about to be retired and is over the age of 66, then s/he may file a complaint for modification anytime after March 1, 2013, one year after the law goes into effect.
There are many other procedural and evidentiary issues raised under the new statute, as well as how and when the Court may consider deviating from the statutory directives. A client considering their options and rights under the new Alimony Reform Law should contact Attorney Karen M. Buckley to schedule a meeting to discuss the new law and its effect on their situation.