Massachusetts Bill to End Lifetime Alimony Signed into Law

Fathers and Families, Massachusetts Alimony Reform, and others have long agitated for alimony reform in Massachusetts, and these efforts have now come to fruition. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed an alimony reform bill that will largely end the lifetime alimony burden that family courts have placed on many Massachusetts obligors.

F & F founder and Board Chairman Ned Holstein, MD, MS explains:

“This is a terrific step forward. It is a win for both men and women. Men will not usually be required to pay forever. Women who deserve short-term alimony will now get it.

“But this law only gets half the job done. The next step is to rid the alimony issue of gender bias — the idea that only men should pay it and only women should receive it. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in two-earner couples today, women out-earn men in about 33% of couples. Yet women are alimony payers in only 4% of cases. We need an even-handed approach.”

The Boston Globe explains:

The measure adds some consistency to alimony judgments by curbing lifetime alimony payments and providing caps on the number of years a spouse can receive alimony. The legislation also allows judges more flexibility to make determinations based on a family”s specific circumstances.

In most cases, it will put an end to lifetime alimony payments, instead capping the number of years of payment according to the length of marriage.

But family law attorneys are also hoping that the law will allow people divorcing from shorter marriages – people who previously would have received no alimony – to receive a brief period of payments, just enough to get them through the transition period after the divorce.

Under the new law, a judge can rule to end alimony payments if the recipient is living with a new partner in a marriage-like situation.

Fathers and Families congratulates Steve Hitner of Massachusetts Alimony Reform and all the others whose hard work helped lead to this reform.

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