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Modification of alimony payments in Massachusetts

Massachusetts allows for modification of alimony support payments if there has been a material change in the financial circumstances of the parties. In addition, alimony support payments ordered prior to May 2012 may be reduced if the length of time in the original order exceeds the maximum amount of time permitted under the new Massachusetts alimony guidelines.

In order to obtain a modification of the amount of alimony paid or received, the party seeking the modification must show that there has been a material change in the financial circumstances of the paying or receiving spouse. For example, if the receiving spouse remarries or lives with a partner, it may be possible to seek a termination of the alimony obligation.

In May 2012, the laws of Massachusetts regarding alimony underwent a significant revision, which in many cases limited the amount of time that an individual could receive alimony. As a result of this change, it was anticipated that there would be numerous parties that would seek to modify their existing alimony orders to reflect the new, shorter limits. The new laws created a staggered schedule for individuals to modify their alimony orders due to the change in the law. This schedule is based on the number of years the parties were married.

If both the paying and receiving spouse agree to the modification, the parties can simply file a joint petition with the family court, including an agreement regarding the change and a proposed modified order or judgment. If only one party seeks modification of the alimony order, that party must file a Complaint for Modification of Alimony with the family court in the jurisdiction in which the alimony was originally ordered. A family law attorney may be of assistance in obtaining a modification of an alimony order when it is due to a change in circumstances of the client.

Source: Massachusetts Judicial Branch, "Changing Your Alimony", accessed on March 16, 2015

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