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I provide experienced legal guidance in family law, divorce and special education law. I represent parents and families throughout western Massachusetts.

How do alimony laws affect property division?

Alimony laws in Massachusetts and across the country have gone through many changes in the last few decades. In many cases, the person who pays alimony to the other ex-spouse might have a substantial change in circumstances. In such a case, the person who is paying the alimony may need to have the alimony agreement modified in court.

In the past, the various details of alimony laws needed a major change, which resulted in the Alimony Reform Act of 2011. With the law changing substantially, many people who wish to modify their alimony order may need to get more information about the new changes. Former spouses may then be able to effectively obtain an amicable settlement.

One of the major changes that has been made with the New Act is to Section 34. The many factors that previously contributed to determining alimony payments have been tweaked under Section 53. The modified Act not only makes the equitable distribution of marital property a major factor in determining alimony, but it also dictates guidelines to outline the total time frame by which alimony needs to be paid, even before the property division occurs.

Real estate or other assets that were a part of property division are evaluated, along with the earning capacity of each spouse. The need to determine alimony payments before property division is regarded as a vital change, since oftentimes the spouses do not receive payments from property division immediately. In that type of situation, having no money can be a true hardship for one of the spouses. That is addressed in the Alimony Reform Act.

Source: Massachusetts Legislature, "An Act reforming alimony in the Commonwealth," Accessed on June 23, 2015

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