Commencing March 1, 2012, it is anticipated that the Alimony Reform Act of 2011 will go into effect. Prior to the effective date of this landmark legislation, Massachusetts Judges were not guided by legislation and did not use a uniform formula or method for determining the amount of alimony to be paid or the duration it was required to be paid. With the requirements of this legislation, the Judges are given guidance and a formula for determining alimony in each of the cases before them.
Types of Alimony
This legislation also identifies different types of alimony: General term alimony (see formula below) rehabilitative alimony (for no more than 5 years), reimbursement alimony, and transitional alimony (for no more than 3 years).
Duration of Alimony
Two important points in determining the duration of alimony are:
1. a presumed end date for payment of alimony, which is the payor' s "full retirement age"; and
2. there is a formula for calculating how many months a spouse may receive general alimony which is based on the length of marriage.
The "length" of your marriage is determined by the number of months from the date of your legal marriage to the date of service of the divorce/separate support complaint in your case; not the date of your divorce.
? Marriage of 5 years of less- one half the number of months of marriage;
? Marriage of 10 years or less, but more than 5 years- 60% of the number of months of the marriage;
?Marriage of 15 years or less, but more than 10 years-70% of the number of months of the marriage;
?Marriage of 20 years or less, but more than 15 years-80% of the number of months of the marriage.
?Marriages of 20 years or more- the court may order alimony for an indefinite length of time.
Two Important Points to Consider under the New Legislation
Even though the legislation outlines the formula for how long someone will have to pay a spouse alimony, this legislation still leaves a trial judge with the discretion to set a different alimony termination date or grant an extension for good cause shown.
Furthermore, a judge may also not award or terminate alimony if the alimony recipient co-habitates with a person for a continuous period of at least 3 months. Income and assets of a payor's current spouse would also not be considered in the determination of alimony in a modification action with a former spouse.