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High Court to Review Massachusetts Alimony Law

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts made sweeping changes to the way alimony is calculated and paid in the state. Part of the alimony reform law, enacted in 2012 and implemented in 2013, allows people paying alimony to stop making payments when they reach retirement age. This change applied to people who divorced after the law was implemented.

Now, the Supreme Judicial Court will try to determine whether the law applies only to those divorcing after the change became law or whether it can be applied to all existing alimony payments, including those that began before the law changed.

The court will take on three cases this session, and their rulings could help clarify the law. Questions that the court needs to deal with include:

  • Will people who have been paying alimony after retirement get their money back?
  • Is anyone reaching retirement age able to stop paying alimony, or only those divorced after the law went into effect?
  • Does this part of the new law only apply to subsequent divorces?

One of the cases involves a man who has been paying $200 per week to his ex-wife since 1992. He is no retired and says he shouldn't have to pay alimony. His ex says that the new law does not apply to their divorce.

According to at least one law professor, there are elements of the new law that could be interpreted to mean that it was to be applied retroactively.

Whatever the court decides, the ruling is sure to be closely watched by other states where alimony reform laws have either recently passed or are pending.

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