Is Reform Coming Soon for Massachusetts Alimony Laws?
Much to the disappointment of many, the most recent Massachusetts legislative session closed without changes to the state’s alimony laws. Although separate bills had been introduced in both the House and Senate, neither managed to garner sufficient support to pass.
Accordingly, Massachusetts remains one of the few states in the country that continues to award alimony for life.
Given the amount of debate surrounding this issue, it seems likely that some changes will be coming in the near future. It is unclear, though, what shape these reforms might take. While some are simply pushing for durational limits to be considered when awarding alimony, others would prefer a law that references particular events or time limits.
One indication of what the future might bring comes from a report created by the Joint Massachusetts Bar Association/Boston Bar Association Alimony Task Force. Although this Task Force does not have any legislative authority, legal reforms on this matter supported by both the MBA and the BBA are likely to be taken seriously by the legislature.
The Task Force provided very clear guidance for the time limits of general term alimony, which takes into account the length of the marriage.
For a marriage lasting less than five years, the Task Force recommends that alimony be provided for no more than 50 percent of the duration of the marriage. If the marriage lasts more than 15 but less than 20 years, the Task Force recommends that alimony payments extended no more than 80 percent of the length of the marriage.
In accordance with the recommendations of the Task Force, alimony payments would only be indefinite if the marriage last more than 20 years – and even then, such payments would terminate upon retirement of the spouse making payments. The Alimony Task Force also specifically noted factors that would warrant deviation from these standards, such as health problems of either person.
It seems likely that durational limits in some form for alimony payments will be coming to Massachusetts. Ultimately, though, only time will reveal the details of these reforms.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rudy Jaworski
U.S. District Court District of Massachusetts, 1982
U.S. Court of Appeals 1st Circuit, 1982
New England School of Law, Boston, Massachusetts, 1981
Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1973
Major: Urban Studies
Income Tax Issues in Divorce, Divorce Taxation, 2007
Employee Stock Options in Divorce, Symposium 2000, Massachusetts Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, 2000
Recent Developments in Family Law, Massachusetts Bar Association, 1994 - 1996
Property and Custody Rights of Unmarried Couples, Massachusetts Bar Association, 1995
Honors and Awards:
The Best Lawyers in America, Woodward /White Inc of Aiken SC, 2007 - 2008
Massachusetts SuperLawyers, Boston Magazine, 2007
Massachusetts SuperLawyers, Boston Magazine, 2006
The Best Lawyers in America, Woodward /White Inc of Aiken SC, 2005 - 2006
Massachusetts SuperLawyers, Boston Magazine, 2005
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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.