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Does a divorce decree that was in place prior to the new Alimony Reform Act in MA supersede the law?

Clinton, MA |

My boyfriend's divorce decree of 2009 states that the decree cannot be modified without the consent of both parties. If his ex wants to stop the alimony payments to him because we are now living together, would their divorce decree keep her from doing so?

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Attorney answers 3


You will need to look at the language regarding survival or merger. If the terms regarding alimony survive as an independent contract, they are not modifiable. However, given the language you have shared, it sounds like the alimony provisions merged and are thus open to modification. I would suggest that you have an attorney review your agreement. Good luck.

Any answer provided herein does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Do not rely solely on these responses, but rather consult with an attorney.


The issue of surviving Separation Agreements as it relates to the Alimony Reform Act is currently unresolved. Attorneys and courts are struggling with this issue since the Alimony Reform Act is so new, and ultimately this may have to be resolved by the appellate courts. Cohabitation of a recipient spouse with a significant other for 3 continuous months is grounds for the payor spouse to suspend, reduce, or terminate alimony. Your boyfriend should meet with a Family Law attorney to review his Separation Agreement and discuss his case in detail. Good luck!

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No responsible lawyer could give you an answer to your question because there are so many variables that you don't address. The most significant is whether the divorce decree was based upon an independent agreement (contract) tht did not merge with the decree.

As my colleagues satated, there are still a lot of questions about the new law, but if the ex stops paying alimony, your boy-friend should see a qualified attorney for at least an initial interview.

Evaluating any legal question requires a detailed knowledge of the specific facts involved. A short question will rarely contain all the relevant facts. Therefore, the answer here should be considered a general comment for your consideration and not legal advice. It does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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