If you are just starting the divorce process, or you have been divorced for years, March 1, 2012 is an important date. On that day the Massachusetts Alimony Reform Act goes into effect. While we don’t know how time or how judges’ interpretations of the law will change it, we do know that there are three very important new considerations:
- First, the time and term of alimony will be determined by a formula based on the length of your marriage. This will apply to completed divorces as well as future divorces. The only ones exempted from the formula are completed divorces where the agreement "survives" (this is a technical term which means that, in addition to being included in and part of the judgment of divorce, the agreement is a contract that can’t easily be changed).
- The second major change is that the amount of alimony will usually be defined as being between 30-35% of the payor’s income. Although the courts used to often use percentages, the law spoke only of need and ability to pay.
- The third and VERY major change is that alimony now will end when the payor reaches full Social Security age, which is currently 67.
For a more in depth analysis of the law, please see this article written by my colleague, Francine Gardikas. You should also, if you have a completed divorce, check back with your divorce attorney to determine how — or if — the new law effects you.