How Do Recent Alimony Changes Impact You?

Alimony is a hot topic for many divorcing couples. Disputes over whether one spouse should pay the other, and the amount and duration of payments can quickly become contentious. The best way to protect your financial interests during spousal support disputes is to work with an experienced attorney.

At Moniz & Mendes, P.C., in Salem, our attorneys are highly skilled in the area of alimony. We are up-to-date with recent reforms in Massachusetts alimony law. We will vigorously represent your interests in and out of court, and will work diligently to protect your rights with respect to alimony.

How Will Alimony Now Be Calculated?

On Sept. 26, 2011, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick signed a bill into law titled "An Act Reforming Alimony in the Commonwealth." This new law makes significant changes to how alimony is determined and calculated.

This law not only affects all new alimony judgments, but also allows those with existing alimony orders to seek modifications to align their payments with the new law.

Under the new law, judges have less discretion to award lifetime alimony payments. Instead, the duration of alimony is based on the length of the marriage. For example:

  • Marriages of five years or less — Alimony payments last half the number of months of the marriage
  • Marriages of five to 10 years — Alimony will be paid 60 percent of the number of months of the marriage
  • Marriages of 10 to 15 years — Alimony will be paid 70 percent of the number of months of the marriage
  • Marriages of 15 to 20 years — Alimony will be paid 80 percent of the number of months of the marriage
  • Marriages of 20 years or more are considered long-term marriages — Alimony will end when the recipient remarries, at retirement age or upon either spouse's death

The law also puts a cap on the amount of payments. In general, the amount of alimony should not exceed 30 to 35 percent of the difference in the parties' incomes. There are also rules regarding transitional alimony, temporary alimony, rehabilitative alimony, and reimbursement alimony.

Modifications To Spousal Support

As the years go by, life changes. Jobs are lost and gained, promotions may occur and one or both of the ex-spouses may remarry. If there has been a significant change in circumstances, a modification of alimony may be warranted.

At Moniz & Mendes, P.C., our lawyers will evaluate your circumstances to determine whether you are eligible for a spousal support modification. If so, we will help you with every step of the process and advocate on your behalf during negotiations as well as in court. We understand the many tax, financial and personal issues presented by a divorce filing, and our firm will work hard to obtain the optimal result for you.

Factors that may give rise to an alimony modification:

  • Cohabitation with another person for at least three months may warrant a reduction, suspension or termination of alimony
  • Remarriage will result in the termination of alimony
  • A significant increase or decrease in each party's income may warrant a change
  • Child support arrangements may be considered
  • The payment of health and life insurance may be factors

Things that do not impact alimony:

  • If the payer remarries, the new spouse's income and assets will not be used to increase alimony payments.
  • Small changes in income will not be considered.

Call Us For A Free Consultation

From our office in Salem, we represent clients in Essex County and the surrounding area. To learn more about our representation or to schedule your free initial consultation, contact us online, or call 781-350-4963 today.