Divorce Mediation Blog

Alimony Reform: One Year Later – Part 1

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

A year plus after the state legislature enacted and Governor Patrick signed the Massachusetts alimony overhaul, bar association groups have devoted many of their seminar offerings to retrospectives by Probate and Family Court judges about their experiences with the complex new law since its effective date of March 1, 2012. From what we are seeing and hearing from these programs, and from talking to lawyers constantly in our practice about their experiences, some trends seem to emerge.

  1. Judges, by and large, do not want to strictly enforce the presumption that alimony terminates at the full social security retirement age (usually 66-67 for the current divorcing population) of the payor if the parties have been married for a very long time and the recipient spouse has been out of the workforce for a long time, too. This is especially true if the judge is addressing the issue in a case when the divorce entered before the alimony reform legislation occurred and the parties are appearing in court on termination issues by complaint for modification; and particularly if the payor is continuing to work beyond “retirement age”.
  2. Judges seem to believe that the statute’s mandate not to apply income of the payor to alimony calculation after having already counted it in determining child support, does not require that they determine child support first, and alimony second. In some circumstances judges apply the child support guidelines to the first $250,000 of combined parental income and then implement the alimony statute on excess income only; while in others, judges feel free to determine alimony obligations first, and then look at child support contributions in light of resulting adjusted incomes.
  3. In cases where alimony would have been open-ended (and not bounded by the durational limits of the new alimony law) and where property would have been presumed to be split equally, judges are open to persuasion that the time limited alimony recipient, who does not have clear and obvious prospects of substantial self-support) may be entitled to something more than half of the assets.

A few more observations will follow in our next entry.

Get e-mail notifications of new blog posts! Enter email address below.:

Delivered by FeedBurner

other articles

recent posts


Massachusetts alimony and child support General term alimony family support separation med-arb Massachusetts Alimony Reform Act Levine Dispute Resolutions family law mediation divorce mediators divorce arbitrator Massachusetts lawyers resolve disputes Baseball Obamacare SJC how baseball arbitration works mediators divorce and family law Divorce LDRC lawyers Baseball Players lawyer self-adjusting alimony support orders divorce judgment Defense of Marriage Act Levine Dispute Resolution Center arbitration Matrimonial Arbitration Self-adjusting alimony orders Major League Baseball Arbitration divorce mediation alimony law Levine Dispute Resolution IRC §2704 lawyer-attended mediation divorced divorce mediations family and probate law disputes divorce agreement medical benefits divorce and family law mediators conciliation Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly family law mediation annulment alimony statute Act Reforming Alimony in the Commonwealth mediator arbitrator Chouteau Levine fraud Baseball Arbitration facilitated negotiations Alimony Reform Act Divorce Agreements traditional negotiations child support divorce arbitrators litigation pre-ARA alimony arbitrators Massachusetts alimony Child Support Guidelines mediations MLB labor agreement dispute resolution Massachusetts divorce mediators high-risk methodology Cohabitation private dispute resolution family mediation health insurance divorce mediator alimony orders COLA med/arb special master Levine Dispute Resolution Center LLC family law arbitrators divorce lawyers health coverage alimony DOMA Massachusetts divorce litigation family law arbitrator disputes Family Law Arbitration divorce process Uniform Arbitration Act The Seven Sins of Alimony Massachusetts divorce lawyers Same Sex Marriage Boston alimony reform legislation rehabilitative alimony divorce arbitration