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Are divorces prior to the Alimony Reform Act grandfathered in to the old alimony rules?

Gardner, MA |

My boyfriend and his ex were divorced 3 years ago. She pays him alimony each month. We want to live together, but can't afford to lose his alimony. I'm trying to find out if his divorce would be somehow grandfathered in to the rules which were in effect at the time of their divorce.

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Attorney answers 5


Sorry. No grandfather clause. I suggest that you consult with an attorney to see if there are other options.

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The Alimony Reform Act still applies to your boyfriend and his ex. If you cohabitate with your boyfriend, his ex will be able to file a Complaint for Modification to terminate her alimony obligation.

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The alimony award that was part of your boyfriend’s judgment remains unchanged, but can be modified to reflect the intent of the new legislation. The timing of the modification to reflect the new legislation depends on how many years he was married – modifications are being phased in over several years. Of course a complaint for modification can be filed for other reasons as well, changes of income, expenses, ability to pay and needs of the recipient. If there has been a material change in circumstances, that is the facts that supported the judgment are no longer applicable, then a party can file for modification.

Under the new legislation a party can also file for modification if the recipient of the alimony award enters into cohabitation arrangement. While the definition of cohabitation is still being formulated through case law, a few things seem clear: 1) cohabitation must t be for a period of time (more than 3 months), and 2) thee has to be economic integration (shred expenses, joint bank accounts) – not just a roommate/shared living expense arrangement. This may be difficult to prove if the cohabitants maintain economic independence. Finally, if the alimony award terminated for cohabitation it can be reinstated if the cohabitation ends (but not all that likely).

This is not legal advice and is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. You should speak to an attorney for further information.


What you are suggesting is covered by the new law. In fact, you
should consult an attorney before you make any changes.

Does this answer your question?

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Yes, the new alimony reform law applies to all divorced persons, regardless of when their divorce was finalized. You need to read the alimony reform law together with the any divorce decree/separation agreements in place. Hire a lawyer to consult with as you make this change!

Christopher Vaughn-Martel is a Massachusetts lawyer with the firm of Vaughn-Martel Law in Boston, Massachusetts. All answers are based on Massachusetts law and the limited facts presented by the questioner. All answers are provided to the general public for educational purposes only and no attorney-client relationship is formed by providing an answer to a question. To schedule a consultation with a lawyer, and obtain advice and review of your specific legal issue, please call us today at 617-357-4898 or visit us at