How does Massachusetts determine alimony payments now?

If you’re currently going through the divorce process here in Massachusetts then you may have also come across the topic of alimony payments. Also called spousal support or maintenance, these court-ordered payments are found in just about every state across the nation and come from a time in which women stayed home with the children and did not have a career.

But now times have changed. More women than ever are in the workforce, which has led a number of people to question the continuation of a seemingly archaic practice. You might be one of those people questioning its use, especially if it looks as if you could be required to pay alimony after your divorce.

But did you know that alimony laws used to be quite different in our state? Prior to a reform that occurred in 2011, judges were allowed to award permanent alimony, which required one spouse to continue making support payments to their ex-spouse for the remainder of their life or their ex-spouse’s life. Now, since the reform, there are specific guidelines for how much alimony can be awarded to a former spouse and how long those payments will go on for.

It’s worth pointing out that modifications or even termination of payments can occur if certain criteria are met. According to Chapter 124 of the act reforming alimony in our state, cohabitation and remarriage can both lead to a termination of payments while a change in financial status can lead to a modification of both the payment’s amount and/or its duration.

Source: The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, “An Act Reforming Alimony in the Commonwealth,” 2011, Accessed Oct. 30, 2014


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