Massachusetts Alimony Reform Act of 2011

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Legal Practice Tools: Massachusetts Family Law

Legal Practice Tools is a mobile application designed to provide legal resources on the go.

Attorney David M. Bilodeau is the creator of Legal Practice Tools and its mobile applications. Mr. Bilodeau is an Associate at Goldstein & Bilodeau, PC., where his practice focuses on all aspects of family law. Mr. Bilodeau has a BS in Physics and prior to becoming an attorney, he worked in the private sector for several years as a research scientist.

As a practicing attorney, Mr. Bilodeau realized that there is a critical need to have access to important legal resource while in court or from any other place besides the desk. It was that need that led to the creation of Legal Practice Tools.

The application is meant to give a practitioners everything all the resources they need to get work done on the go. It is also an excellent tool for anyone who wants to learn about a particular area of the law.

To order the Massachusetts Family Law app, click here

On March 1, 2012 the Massachusetts Alimony Reform Act of 2011 became effective law (Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 208, Sections 48 - 55), vastly changing the way in which alimony is determined in Massachusetts divorce proceedings. Below are the most significant changes to be aware of.

Types of Alimony: There are now 4 types of alimony and Judges may impose on a spouse.

General Term Alimony (MGL ch 208 s 49): This is considered the standard form of alimony and shall apply in the vast majority of situations.

  • Length of General Term Alimony: The chart below shall used to determine the length of an alimony obligation, except upon written findings by the court that deviation beyond these limits is required in the interests of justice (i.e. Each Judge has discretion to deviate when they deem necessary and upon written findings).
  Length of Marriage   Duration of Alimony
0 to 5 Years   50% length of marriage  
6 to 10 Years   60% length of marriage  
11 to 15 Years   70% length of marriage  
16 to 20 Years   80% length of marriage  
20 Years or more   Indefinite Duration  

  • Length of Marriage (MGL ch 208 s 48): Length of the marriage for the purpose of determining the duration of an alimony obligation shall be from the legal date of marriage to the date of service of a complaint for divorce, or a petition for divorce. The court can, at their discretion, increase the length of marriage to include periods of premarital cohabitation when there is evidence of an economic partnership between the parties.

  • Termination of an Alimony Obligation: Alimony may terminate when the recipient remarries (however life insurance or another form of survivor benefit may be required). Suspension, reduction, or even termination of alimony can also occur when the recipient shares a household with another person for at least 3 consecutive months.

  • Amount of General Term Alimony (MGL ch 208 s 53): The amount of alimony should not exceed the recipient's need or 30 to 35 % of the difference between the parties’ gross incomes. Also, in making an order of alimony, the court shall exclude from its calculation: capital gains, dividends, and interest income which derives from an asset being divided pursuant to MGL ch 208 s 34 (Massachusetts Property Division in a divorce proceeding).

Rehabilitative Alimony (MGL ch 208 s 50): The periodic payment of support to a recipient spouse who is expected to become economically self-sufficient by a predicted time, such as, without limitation, reemployment; completion of job training; or receipt of a sum due from the payor spouse under a judgment.

Reimbursement Alimony (MGL ch 208 s 51): The periodic or one-time payment of support to a recipient spouse after a marriage of not more than 5 years to compensate the recipient spouse for economic or noneconomic contribution to the financial resources of the payor spouse, such as enabling the payor spouse to complete an education or job training.

Transitional Alimony (MGL ch 208 s 52): The periodic or one-time payment of support to a recipient spouse after a marriage of not more than 5 years to transition the recipient spouse to an adjusted lifestyle or location as a result of the divorce.

Deviation in Amount and Duration of Alimony (MGL ch 208 s 53): The court may deviate from the standard amount and duration of general term and rehabilitative alimony in a variety of circumstances, including: illness or unusual health circumstances of recipient, based on tax considerations, if the payor provides the receipt with health insurance, pre-marital cohabitation of the parties prior to marriage, cases of physical or mental abuse, and upon written findings by the court. If a court orders alimony concurrent with or subsequent to a child support order, the combined duration of alimony and child support shall not exceed the longer of: (i) the alimony or child support duration available at the time of divorce; or (ii) rehabilitative alimony beginning upon the termination of child support.