Undoing the ties that bind divorced people together forever

House Unanimously Passes Alimony Reform Legislation
The bill creates four new categories for alimony - Divorce means Divorce:
Lifetime alimony no more. Massachusetts reforms Alimony laws

The Cape Cod Delegation joined their colleagues in the Massachusetts House of Representatives on July 20, 2011 in unanimously passing legislation to reform guidelines for determining the form, amount and duration of alimony payments. The legislation, for the first time in state law, crates specific guidelines on the levels and duration of payments to former spouses. "An Act reforming alimony in the Commonwealth," which has 133 cosponsors from both parties, will now head to the Senate for debate and a vote.

"Alimony shouldn't tie two people together for the
rest of their lives
."
                 - Rep. Cleon Turner.

"Legislation for alimony reform has been long overdue in the commonwealth and I am proud to have supported this bipartisan effort. One of the goals in divorce is separating two parties - alimony shouldn't tie two people together for the rest of their lives" said Representative Cleon H. Turner (D-Dennis).

Rep. Turner was a co-sponsor of Senate Bill 665 "An Act reforming alimony in the Commonwealth." The Committee on Bills in Third Reading released a bill to be voted on, so the final bill number that was passed was House Bill 3617.

"It finally updates our antiquated alimony laws and puts the decision making back in the hands of the parties to help craft their own agreements."
          - Rep. Sarah Peake.

"I'm pleased to have supported this legislation. It finally updates our antiquated alimony laws and puts the decision making back in the hands of the parties to help craft their own agreements," said Representative Sarah K. Peake (D-Provincetown).

David Vieira (R-Falmouth) said "This reform was an important step towards equitable guidelines for alimony decisions in the judiciary. Many of my constituents shared very personal stories with me during our deliberations and I am proud to have supported the bill."

The bill creates four new categories for alimony: "general term alimony," "rehabilitative alimony," "reimbursement alimony," and "transitional alimony." Each is designed to give payors and recipients a clear understanding of how long alimony payments will be made or received in a given circumstance.

"This reform was an important step towards equitable guidelines for alimony decisions in the judiciary."
                   - Rep. David Vieira.

"General term alimony" calls for the periodic payment of support to an economically dependent spouse. The default form of alimony, "general term alimony" payments are based on the length of marriage, with the duration of alimony payments increasing with the length of the terminated marriage.

Under this legislation, "general term alimony" now encompasses short-term marriages (marriages of five years or less) and can be suspended, reduced or terminated if it can be shown that the recipient spouse has been living with another person continuously in a relationship similar to a marriage.

"Rehabilitative alimony" requires the periodic payment of support to a recipient spouse who is expected to become economically self-sufficient by a predicted time. "Rehabilitative alimony" is limited to five years, unless a court grants an extension based on compelling events. This type of alimony terminates upon the remarriage of the recipient spouse, occurrence of a specific future event, or death of either spouse.

"Reimbursement alimony" constitutes a periodic or one-time payment of support to a recipient spouse after a short-term marriage. This type of alimony is also designed for the purpose of paying the recipient spouse for a contribution - economic or otherwise - to the financial contribution of the payor, such as enabling the payor spouse to complete an education or job training.

As a result of this legislation, certain current alimony payors and recipients would be permitted to petition a court for a modification of their current alimony orders under the terms within this bill.

Finally, "transitional alimony" is also a periodic or one-time payment of support to a recipient spouse after a short-term marriage. "Transitional alimony," however, is also designed for the purpose of transitioning the recipient to an adjusted lifestyle or location as a result of the terminated marriage. "Transitional alimony" must end no later than three years after the date of divorce.

While alimony is generally capped at between 30% and 35% of the difference between the two parties' gross incomes at the time the alimony order is issued, the bill sets forth numerous items to be considered by courts determining the form, amount and duration of alimony. The factors include length of marriage, age and health of the parties, income of both of the parties and employment and employability of both parties, among others.

As a result of this legislation, certain current alimony payors and recipients would be permitted to petition a court for a modification of their current alimony orders under the terms within this bill.

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