The Massachusetts Alimony Reform Act, effective as of March 2012, limits alimony awards to formula-based payments depending on the length of the marriage, ensures that second spouses income and assets are exempt from a redetermination of alimony payments, further allows for second jobs or overtime to be exempt from alimony modifications, limits the amount of alimony payments to 35 percent of the difference between the spouse’s incomes at the time of the divorce, allows for modification or termination if the recipient cohabits or remarries, and allows for termination of the alimony payments come retirement age. Although judges can still award indefinite alimony for long-term marriages, it is no longer permanent and ends at retirement age for marriages more than 20 years, and additionally, short-term marriages have different rules and fewer payments. This change allows for men and women that had been paying alimony for decades when they had been only briefly married to have the financial strain alleviated.
The types of alimony stay the same, but the laws governing the time-constraints and reasons for awards have been modified. The rules apply as follows, if the marriage lasts:
Additionally, there are new rules on the types of alimony payments.
Alimony laws originated when women typically stayed at home and depended on their husbands for financial support. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, women now make up almost half the labor force, 47% in comparison to 30% in 1950. About a third of women earned more than their husbands in 2011, compared with 18% in 1987. The new laws, spreading to other states, will allow for modification based on new financial circumstances, allowing for those behind in payments to avoid incarceration, and the termination of permanent alimony support.