Massachusetts Alimony Reform Law


Alimony, also known as spousal support, is a major issue in many divorce cases and until recently was awarded based solely on judicial discretion. However, a new Massachusetts law went into effect on March 1, 2012, that sets clear limits on the amount of spousal support that a spouse can receive in divorce. The law also eliminates lifetime alimony in almost every situation. It is very important that your attorney clearly understands the new law. Whether you are seeking or paying alimony, your rights must be protected.

For dependable advice about protecting your interests on either side of an alimony petition dispute, contact an experienced Boston divorce lawyer today at the Law Office Of Annette Baker in Beverly.

Whether you will be paying support or receiving alimony, we will help you understand your rights and obligations and make sure you are protected throughout the divorce process. We know that alimony is especially important when one spouse was a stay-at-home parent while the other worked full time. When the marriage ends, the nonworking spouse can be at a significant disadvantage because he or she has not worked for many years. Alimony is intended to give that spouse the means to pay bills and have a reasonable standard of living.

The New Massachusetts Alimony Reform Law Terms

The new spousal maintenance and alimony law makes petitions easier to understand and predict. There are no longer complications caused by terms like "temporary alimony" or "permanent alimony." Instead, there are clear guidelines for how long spousal support must be paid, based on length of marriage. These include awarding alimony based on the duration of a marriage, including:

  • Five years or less: Alimony continues no longer than half the length of the marriage.
  • Six to 10 years: Alimony lasts no longer than 60 percent of the length of the marriage.
  • 11 to 15 years: Alimony lasts no longer than 70 percent of the length of the marriage.
  • 16 to 20 years: Alimony lasts no longer than 80 percent of the length of the marriage.
  • Over 20 years: The court has discretion to award alimony for an indefinite period.

What If You Are Already Paying Alimony?

If your divorce was finalized before this new law took effect, you can petition the court for modification under the new statute. However, modifications cannot occur until:

  • March 1, 2013, for those were married five years or less
  • March 1, 2014, for those married six to 10 years
  • March 1, 2015, for those married 11 to 15 years
  • Sept. 1, 2015, for those married more than 15 years

Our skilled family lawyer can help ensure that alimony payments are incorporated fairly into your divorce settlement agreement.

Contact Us

The Law Office Of Annette Baker is conveniently located in Beverly's Cummings Center, an award-winning restoration of the former United Shoe Machinery plant. The Cummings Center features free parking, easy access by the MBTA bus and North Shore commuter rail, and convenient access via routes 1-A, 62 or 128.

We accept all major credit cards, and we are easily reached: simply call 978-712-4268 or complete the online form on our contact us page.