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Massachusetts Alimony Law ChangesFamily Court, and the laws that are upheld within its walls, are forever changing to benefit the best interest of children and to aid in smooth transition and dissolution of marriage. Alimony is one of the areas in which family law is forever changing the most. With so many of the laws set back in a time before technology, its advances, and the amount of women’s rights, it needs to be constantly updated in order to better suit the needs of spouses.

Alimony is the payment of support from a spouse, who has the ability to pay, to a spouse in need of support for a reasonable time, under a court order. Massachusetts is one of the states that has recently implemented new laws and updated old ones in terms of alimony. Here are some of the new changes, to keep you in the loop.

General Term Alimony
This is the periodic payment of support to a spouse who is economically dependent. General term alimony expires when the dependent spouse remarries, or upon the death of either spouse. The court may require life insurance or other security for payment in the event of the payor’s death. There are several important provisions pertaining to general term alimony, and they are as follows:

Duration Limits
These apply to marriages that are 20 years or less. Duration is generally determined from the date of the marriage to the date of the filing of a Joint Petition for Divorce by the parties. The new amendments to the law state that the length of time for payment of alimony is as follows:
· Marriages of five years or less – no longer than half the number of months of the marriage.
· Marriages of 10 years or less but more than five years – no longer than 60 percent of the months of the marriage.
· Marriages of 15 years or less but more than 10 years – no longer than 70 percent of the months of the marriage.
· Marriages of 20 years or less but more than 15 years – no longer than 80 percent of the length of the marriage.

For marriages over 20 years, the court will have the discretion to determine alimony for an indefinite length of time.

General term alimony may be suspended, reduced, or terminated upon the cohabitation of a recipient spouse in a common household for a continuous period of at least three months. Specific and precise proof of such cohabitation must be possessed by the providing party, in order to make the claims valid.

Termination at Retirement
General term alimony terminates upon the payor attaining the full retirement age under the then prevailing Social Security laws.

Extension of Alimony Order
The court may grant an extension of an existing alimony order for good cause shown. Good cause is defined by the judge in the family court that the divorce proceedings took place.

Other Forms of Alimony
Some of the other forms of alimony that have been adjusted and are now reflected in the new laws are:

Rehabilitative Alimony – Provides for a spouse who is expected to be economically self-sufficient by a predicted time, such as upon the completion of education or job training or receipt of a sum due from the payor spouse under the judgment of divorce. The alimony term shall be no more than five years. Rehabilitative alimony may be modified under certain circumstances.

Reimbursement Alimony – Provides a periodic or one-time payment of support for a marriage of not more than five years for the purpose of compensating the recipient for contribution to the marriage, such as enabling the payor spouse to complete an education or job training. Reimbursement alimony is not modifiable.

Transitional Alimony – Provides for the periodic or one-time payment of support to a recipient spouse after a marriage of not more than five years for the purpose of transitioning the recipient to an adjusted lifestyle or location as the result of the divorce. The term of transitional alimony is no more than three years, and it may not be modified, extended or replaced by another form of alimony.

Amount of Alimony
Alimony is said to not exceed the recipient’s need or 30 to 35 percent of the difference between the parties’ gross income calculated by the courts.

If there is child any child support issue in question, the child support would be calculated first, and then the alimony formula would apply. The income guidelines do not apply for reimbursement alimony or circumstances warranting deviation for other forms of alimony.

Keeping current on family law rulings, law changes or amendments in your state and specifically your own county is important if you are filing for divorce or even contemplating a dissolution of your marriage. Knowing what rights you have, and how to go about enforcing them, makes your life easier and can get you the assurance you need in knowing that you are being treated fairly.

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