Barbara J. Katzenberg, Attorney at Law
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Will bill H.740 reform the Alimony Reform Act?

Massachusetts residents who divorced before the Alimony Reform Act took effect in March 2012 may still be paying spousal support to exes who, under new laws, would no longer qualify for the benefit. As wrong as that seems, the state Supreme Court has ruled that the wording in the Alimony Reform Act is written in a way that only protects those filing after it was passed and should not be applied retroactively. This could soon change, however.

House bill 740 was sent for review May 15, and if passed, it could reform the Alimony Reform Act. How exactly? It would allow the new laws to be applied to those who divorced before they took effect. This could save numerous alimony-paying ex-spouses a fortune.

According to the Alimony Reform Act, with some exceptions, a person's spousal support obligation may end when retirement age is reached or his or her former spouse lives with a new partner for a minimum of three months. Before this law was passed, alimony payments may have been required until the receiving spouse remarried. So, many of those who are not protected under the Alimony Reform Act have actually been paying support to former spouses who are also being supported by new partners.

Obviously, there is reason for alimony-paying ex-spouses to be upset by Massachusetts spousal support laws. However, attempts to reform the system have failed in previous years. It has not yet been reported if a decision has been made regarding bill H.740. If it is ultimately passed, those who qualify to have their alimony orders terminated can seek assistance from an experienced attorney to submit such requests.

Source: The Boston Globe, "Massachusetts needs to divorce its divorce law", Louise Sloan, May 11, 2017

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