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New Mass. Alimony Reform Law (H3617) signed by Governor Patrick yesterday sets limits on alimony and eliminates lifetime alimony. Limits include:

(1) If the duration of marriage is 5 years or less, general term alimony shall be no greater than one-half the number of months of the marriage.
(2) If the duration of marriage is 10 years or less, but more than 5 years, general term alimony shall be no greater than 60 per cent of the number of months of the marriage.
(3) If the duration of marriage is 15 years or less, but more than 10 years, general term alimony shall be no greater than 70 per cent of the number of months of the marriage.
(4) If the duration of marriage is 20 years or less, but more than 15 years, general term alimony shall be no greater than 80 per cent of the number of months of the marriage.
(c) The court shall have discretion to order alimony for an indefinite length of time for marriages longer than 20 years.

Further, cohabitation of the recipient spouse may end alimony:

(d) General term alimony shall be suspended, reduced or terminated upon the cohabitation of the recipient spouse when the payor shows that the recipient has maintained a common household, as defined below, with another person for a continuous period of at least 3 months. 

The new law is effective for alimony judgments entered on or after March 1, 2012. Those paying alimony who want to file for a modification based on the new law must wait until:

  • March 1, 2013 for those who were married less than 5 years, or any payor who will reach federal retirement age (as defined in the law) before March 1, 2015.
  • March 1, 2014 for those married 5-10 years.
  • March 1, 2015 for those married 10-15 years.
  • September 1, 2015 for those married 15-20 years. 

There are many more details in the law, including which assets are included and more.

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