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Debate over Alimony reform continues as new law goes into effect

As new alimony reform laws are settling into place in Massachusetts, alimony reform laws are being considered in other states throughout the nation as well. Most notably, the Florida state legislature recently passed an alimony reform bill, but the bill was vetoed by their governor. However, while the issue has been settled in Massachusetts, at least for the time being, the debate over whether alimony reform is beneficial still continues.

The issue of alimony reform typically has the most consequence for couples with children, regularly because one parent made the decision to forgo a career in order to stay at home and raise a child. The issue at hand is typically trying to decide to what degree the families primary income earner is obligated to support the other individual. While there are various forms which alimony can take, it is often an agreement to regular monthly payments.

A law was recently passed in Massachusetts which would ban a judge from obligating an individual to pay permanent alimony payments to his or her spouse. Those who support this legislation argue that it provides fairness and prevents an individual from taking advantage of the former spouse. Those who oppose this type of legislation argue that it is still important because many people have diminished earning potential after being out of the workforce for an extended period of time..

While new legislation can reduce the amount of discretion a judge may have in a court, the Massachusetts bill still allows for judges to deviate from the rules if they have reason to do so. In view of these rapid changes, everyone contemplating either marriage or divorce should explore all the legal options available to protect their ability to support themselves.

Source: Forbes, "What divorcing women need to know about alimony 'reform'," Jeff Landers, May 17, 2013

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