does anyone know if the ma alimony reform act 2011 will be retroactive? I have been paying alimony for 29 years (never child support).
The Massachusetts Alimony Reform Act of 2011 was recently given a favorable recommendation by the Joint Committee on the Judiciary. From what I have read, it has a good chance of being signed into law. It is hoped, by the Joint Committee and others, that the Alimony Reform Act will:
(1) Provide more understandable definitions of the various alimony categories and establish durational limits for the new categories (general term alimony, rehabilitative alimony, reimbursement alimony, and transitional alimony). For general term alimony (now the default form of alimony) the durational limits are based on the length of marriage. Also, partners in short-term marriages of five years or less may now be eligible to receive alimony.
(2) Provide for the termination of alimony at retirement, unless good cause is shown.
(3) Provide guidance to courts on the issue of cohabitation. The legislation takes aim at those who continue to collect alimony even though they have established a long-term relationship with another party and established a “common household” with another for a period of at least three months. Again, safeguards are included to protect recipients who can show a genuine need for the alimony.
(4) Provide factors that the Family Court should consider when determining an alimony order, including the length of the marriage; age of the parties; health of the parties; both parties' income, employment and employability, including employability through reasonable diligence and additional training, if necessary; economic and non-economic contribution to the marriage; marital lifestyle; ability of each party to maintain the marital lifestyle; lost economic opportunity as a result of the marriage; and such other factors as the court may deem relevant and material.
To your question, The Alimony reform Act spells out the circumstances (and time limits) for parties to request modifications to existing alimony orders:
(a) Enactment of this chapter shall not be deemed a material change of circumstance that warrants modification of the amount of existing alimony judgments.
(b) Enactment of this chapter shall be deemed a material change of circumstance that warrants modification of existing alimony judgments that exceed the durational limits set forth in section 2, above. Existing alimony awards shall be deemed General Term Alimony, and shall be modified upon a complaint for modification without additional material change of circumstance, unless the court finds that deviation from the durational limits is warranted.
(c) Any complaint for modification filed by a payor pursuant to this section solely because the existing alimony judgment exceeds the durational limits set forth in section 2, above, may only be filed pursuant to the following time line: (1) Payors who were married to the alimony recipient five (5) years or less, may file a modification action one (1) year after the effective date of the remaining provisions of this law. (2) Payors who were married to the alimony recipient ten (10) years or less but more than five (5) years may file a modification action two (2) years after the effective date of the remaining provisions of this law. (3) Payors who were married to the alimony recipient fifteen (15) years or less but more than ten (10) years may file a modification action three (3) years after the effective date of the remaining provisions of this law. (4) Payors who were married to the alimony recipient twenty (20) years or less but more than fifteen (15) years may file a modification action three and one-half (3 ½) years after the effective date of the remaining provisions of this law.
Those who wish to obtain a modification may want to contact a Massachusetts divorce attorney for more information about the Act.