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If you are thinking about getting a Massachusetts divorce, it is important to read up on recent Massachusetts divorce law updates first. In that way, you can better equip yourself with necessary knowledge and requirements about divorce which will, in turn, make your divorce process more expedient and efficient.

Within the last years, Massachusetts has passed several bills that changed the way they treat a Massachusetts divorce. In particular, they have passed the Massachusetts Alimony Reform Law, and have introduced a new law that revises previous claims on discretionary trusts once divorce happens. However, before you familiarize yourself with these changes, you need to first acquaint yourself with the basics on Massachusetts divorce laws.

What You Need to Know about Before Getting a Divorce in Massachusetts

Before getting a divorce in Massachusetts, it would be better for you to look at the basic information in Massachusetts divorce laws like the grounds for divorce, residency requirement, waiting period, and the like. This is in order for you to make much better use of your time by using all of your resources appropriately in the divorce process.

In Massachusetts, a divorce can either be a “no fault” or “fault” divorce. A “no fault” divorce basically means that not one party accuses the other of being responsible for the breakdown of their marriage, and that they recognize that their marriage is broken beyond repair. A “fault” divorce, on the other hand, states that one person is the reason why the divorce happened, with particular grounds such as adultery, desertion, abuse, impotency, incarceration, and alcoholism, among others. Both “no fault” and “fault” divorces can be contested or uncontested.

Before you file a divorce in Massachusetts, at least one party must have been a resident of Massachusetts for a year, or the reason for the divorce must have happened in Massachusetts while the couple were still together. Judges can only decide upon a divorce 6 months after filing.

Massachusetts Alimony Reform Law

One of the recent changes in Massachusetts laws for divorce is the Alimony Reform Law. This is the first time in almost 40 years that a change on the state alimony law has been done. The Alimony Reform Law basically removes lifetime alimony, and creates a particular duration by which alimony is required to be given to spouses. This drastically affects the financial situations of both giver and receiver of alimony, so it is necessary that people are vigilant when it comes to the application of this law.

Alimony exists as a support to one’s previous spouse in recognition of the unquantifiable sacrifices in terms of career options and opportunities. However, the reason why the Alimony Reform Law was made was because according to some, the previous alimony state laws are being abused by many and are sometimes arbitrary.

In the Alimony Reform Law, there are four categories of alimony: (1) rehabilitative alimony, which should help a person become self-sufficient within a period of 5 years, (2) reimbursement alimony, which is provided for short term marriages to compensate for particular financial sacrifices, (3) transitional alimony, which is afforded to people in short term marriages in order to adjust and relocate, and (4) general alimony, which is calculated based on the number of months the couple were married.

In all kinds of alimonies, payments will be over once the giver reaches his or her retirement age. Cohabitation with sexual partners will also result to changes in alimony payments.

Massachusetts Law Concerning Discretionary Trusts and Divorce

One of the new Massachusetts law updates when it comes to divorce is pretty straightforward—the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s decision on Curt F. Pfannenstiehl v. Diane L. Pfannenstiehl which stated that a discretionary trust made by a third party is a reachable marital asset that should be divided equitably was reversed after an appeal.

This basically means that although the Massachusetts family court is allowed to make divisions of marital estates, discretionary trusts should not be included in the picture as beneficiaries of discretionary trusts established by third parties have no ability to force distributions from it.

This is one of the more significant Massachusetts divorce law updates, as this determines the properties included in the marital estate upon divorce, and the income sources that determine the amount of alimony to one’s spouse.

Make it a Habit to Read Massachusetts Divorce Law Updates

Having a better grasp on the Massachusetts divorce law updates will give petitioners an idea of what to expect, what rights they can legally enforce, and what basic requirements are needed when it comes to a Massachusetts divorce. Before you think about getting a divorce in Massachusetts, you must first study and review the basic information about Massachusetts divorce laws, and follow it up with Massachusetts divorce law updates.


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