Sweeping alimony changes have proven popular with citizens of Massachusetts. In the past, alimony payments proved higher than most other states, partially because the state awarded lifetime alimony for short marriages. With the new reforms, there are now clear rules outlining alimony duration and virtually eliminating lifetime support. The new rules also allow judges to end alimony payment to ex-spouses who are cohabitating with new partners, regardless of marital status.
Although Massachusetts has a reputation for being progressive, the state resisted alimony overhaul for many years, leading to occasionally bizarre and unpredictable legal outcomes. The new law now establishes an alimony formula which is based on the number of years married. For example, if a marriage lasted 15 years, alimony payments would generally pay out no longer than 10.5 years upon divorce.
Furthermore, long-term alimony obligations will now likely terminate once retirement age is reached, and new alimony categories have been created with specific rules governing each category. One particular category, reimbursement alimony, would be awarded if a spouse were to put his or her former partner through school. The comprehensive changes come due to the economic slump and criticism that the previous alimony laws denied former spouses the ability to reduce their alimony due to job loss or reduced income.
Although the law has been decisively changed, judges are still allowed discretion in establishing payments and term-lengths. Nevertheless, citizens and lawyers have praised the new laws, stating that the changes will make the process more predictable. Massachusetts citizens can begin requesting alimony hearings on March 1, 2013 depending upon the length of the marriage.
Source: MassLive, "Overhaul of alimony law wins praise," Jack Flynn, March 26, 2012