Barbara J. Katzenberg, Attorney at Law
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Massachusetts alimony reform causes some confusion

Alimony laws in Massachusetts were revised, and in 2012, a reformed alimony law became effective. This provided the basis for alimony calculations, along with determining when alimony should end. Alimony reform states that alimony payments will cease when the alimony-paying person reaches retirement. However, many questions have cropped up in the courts -- mostly related to divorces that were finalized before 2012.

The highest court in Massachusetts is now considering all the gray areas in alimony reform, in order to provide more clarity. An example of such a case is a man who divorced his wife in 1992, and he has been paying her alimony of $200 per week. He claims that, according to the 2012 alimony law, he should be allowed to stop these payments, as he is now retired. His former wife disputes his argument, asserting that the 2012 reform does not affect the court's 1992 alimony order.

The questions that require answers include whether all alimony payments should terminate upon retirement of the payer, or only those where divorces took place after alimony reform. Another matter of concern is for people who have already made alimony payments after retirement, wanting to know whether they are entitled to refunds of extra alimony paid. A family law university professor said that retroactivity related to the alimony reform's sweeping changes is a significant issue.

Massachusetts couples that are unsure about their legal rights regarding alimony payment -- either paying or receiving -- may benefit from seeking advice from a legal professional who is experienced in this field. Ensuring proper knowledge of the legalities of alimony may provide individuals with guidance on how to proceed in the event of any claims. Being informed and prepared may avoid unnecessary legal expenses, while having one's legal rights protected.

Source: bostonglobe.com, "Massachusetts top court to review alimony reform", Andy Rosen, Oct. 6, 2014

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