Massachusetts alimony reform in place but not perfect, part 2

In our past post we discussed that the change in Massachusetts alimony laws have not changed things overnight. More than a year into the enactment of the reform, there are still clarifications that must be made to make this financial part of a divorce process clearer.

Last week, we shared how the Boston Globe followed a couple of divorce cases in which parties were disputing the spousal support payments that courts required of them. One ex-husband claims that he is retired and doesn’t make the income on which the judge based the alimony requirement. Retirement is just one foggy area of the Massachusetts reform.

According to the alimony laws, when an ex is of retirement age and not working, he or she shouldn’t be required to make support payments. A judge can rule differently but must do so with a clear explanation of making the exception to the new alimony rule.

Another gray area of alimony changes in Massachusetts is cohabitation’s impact on payment requirements. The law says that if an ex is living with a new partner for three months or more than he or she isn’t entitled to spousal support. Basically, if an ex who once needed financial support is being supported by a new person, then alimony payments shouldn’t be required, right?

This aspect of the law is causing confusion because it isn’t clear when the three-month rule starts. Does the law work retroactively or just in the cases that have gone before the courts since the alimony reform was enacted? It is an important matter for divorced parties in the state, since many who have been divorced for years might feel that they are paying unfair alimony.

Do you have questions about spousal support and the divorce laws in Massachusetts? A family law attorney in the state can help try to clarify some of the details of the new laws in order for parties to decide whether moving forward with divorce is right for them and their future goals.

Source: Source: The Boston Globe, “New Mass. alimony law a ‘model’ — but is it working?” Bella English, Oct. 20, 2013

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