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On March 1, 2011 the new alimony statute in Massachusetts came into effect. The new statute makes significant changes in the law, which affects not only new divorce cases, but which may affect alimony obligations under prior divorce cases.

Alimony is spousal support or maintenance paid from one spouse to the other. Alimony is tax deductible to the payor spouse, and the recipient spouse must report alimony received as income. Alimony can be awarded on a temporary basis while a divorce is pending, or can be awarded at the final judgment. A person can be awarded to pay alimony and child support concurrently if the circumstances warrant both types of support.

The new law offers guidelines to the Court for the amount and duration of alimony, as well as circumstances in which alimony should be terminated. Within certain percentage guidelines, the amount of alimony rests in the discretion of the Court. The law sets forth durational limits on alimony based on the number of years of marriage, which will generally be applied absent a compelling reason. The new law provides that alimony payments terminate at "normal retirement age" absent good cause. There are other reasons for alimony payments to terminate early as well, such as cohabitation or remarriage of the recipient spouse. Even with the new law, there are still many grounds for deviation, and an experienced attorney can help you evaluate your claim.

For cases that have already gone to judgment, an alimony payee may have grounds to terminate alimony payments due to reaching "normal retirement age." A payee may potentially be able to reduce payments as well if current payments are beyond the guidelines of the new law. Additionally, with an order to pay lifetime alimony, a payee may be able to limit or terminate payments if alimony has exceeded the durational limits. Please be advised that even with the new law, alimony payments do not automatically terminate for any of the reasons above unless specified in your agreement. If you believe you should no longer be paying alimony, or if you are a recipient of alimony and have concerns as to how the new law may affect your alimony, contact our office to set up an appointment to speak with an attorney regarding your case and options.

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Miriam G. Altman, PC, are experienced in representing both payor and recipient spouses in all litigation involving alimony, including divorces, modifications and contempts. We assist recipient spouses in obtaining alimony awards where appropriate and in enforcing existing orders. We also assist in defending against claims for alimony where appropriate, and advocating for the payor spouse, taking into account the payor spouse's interests, abilities and needs. Contact us today to discuss whether our office can assist you in obtaining an alimony award, defending against an alimony claim or terminating or modifying an existing award.

Contact us at 781.862.4448 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.