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Is the new alimony law in Massachusetts ignored?

Money and finances are an everyday issue. Married couples in Massachusetts understand that money can cause huge disputes during a marriage, and often these issues could cause a divorce. Even if a divorce is initiated to halt the arguments around the couple's finances, these problems could infect the divorce process and beyond. When an ex-spouse seek spousal support, for example, disputes surrounding alimony payments could plague the divorced couple for years to come.

A recent article discussed how the new alimony law enacted last year in Massachusetts is playing out in the judicial system. Critics of the alimony reform suggest that judges are either misinterpreting the changes or are ignoring them. The new law was passed in order to encourage and motivate spouses to rebuild their lives and be self-sufficient after divorce, but it appears that ex-spouses are still strongly seeking spousal support post divorce.

The alimony reform passed last year essentially stops the clock on payments for those that were married for 20 years or less. When the ex-spouse that is paying alimony reaches full retirement age or the ex-spouse that is receiving payments has lived with their new partner for at least three months, the alimony payments will automatically stop.

Recently divorced couples question whether the cohabitation factor applies to those that were living together before the law was enacted, but this issue still remains unanswered. It still is not clear if judges are following the guidelines suggested by the recent changes, but like any other divorce issues, other details about the marriage could factor in and allow the ex-spouse to gain permanent alimony.

The divorce process is never described as an easy event. Although some couples experience more difficulties than others, it is often a very emotional time. Divorcing couples or divorced couples dealing with alimony issues should seek to better understand their situation so they can properly address the problem.

Source: ABA Journal, "New alimony law in Massachusetts isn't 'hoped-for panacea'," Debra Cassens Weiss, Oct. 25, 2013

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