The Alimony Reform Act that was passed in September 2011 and became law on March 1, 2012, made significant changes to how the courts calculate and set spousal support. The new law applies to all alimony judgments entered on or after March 1, 2012.
In effect, the new law eliminates the practice of Massachusetts family court judges awarding alimony as a permanent entitlement in divorce, creating instead formal guidelines for determining the amount of alimony that should be paid and for what length of time. It marks the first time the law in Massachusetts stipulates how alimony payments should be calculated.
Under the new law, the primary factor for calculating the terms of the alimony agreement is the length of the marriage. As a general guideline:
- If a marriage lasted five years or less, the presumed alimony term under the law is up to 50 percent of the number of months of the marriage.
- If a marriage lasted between five and 10 years, the presumed alimony term under the law is up to 60 percent of the number of months of marriage.
- If a marriage lasted between 10 and 15 years, the presumed alimony term under the law is up to 70 percent of the number of months of marriage.
- If a marriage lasted between 15 and 20 years, the presumed alimony term under the law is up to 80 percent of the number of months of marriage.
- If a marriage lasted for 20 years or more, alimony presumptively ends at retirement age as defined by the Social Security Act.
Other factors can affect the amount or length of alimony, including remarriage or cohabitation of an alimony recipient. The knowledgeable and experienced lawyers at Kajko, Weisman & Colasanti, LLP, advocate for their clients in all aspects of family law matters, including the determination of alimony.
Protecting Your Rights Regarding Spousal Support
Whether you are the spouse requesting support or you will be responsible for paying it, our family law attorneys protect your interests and help you make important decisions that will safeguard your financial future.
We understand the complex tax issues that come into play when determining issues such as spousal support. We will advise you throughout negotiations and clearly explain any short-term and long-term consequences before agreeing to any settlement.
An alimony agreement that was reached prior to the passage of the 2011 Alimony Reform Act is not automatically subject to the terms of the new law. However, those who were married for five years or less, or those who will reach retirement age before March 1, 2015, may seek a modification at any time. We can assist you in seeking a modification to your current agreement to fall more in line with the new guidelines.
If you have questions regarding alimony or any family law matters, our Lexington alimony attorneys will meet with you and provide a straightforward assessment of what you can expect. Call 781-325-1786 or use our contact form to schedule an appointment.