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New alimony bill being considered by legislators

Massachusetts is one step closer to revamping its alimony law, as the House recently gave a nod to H 4110, which was introduced by the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. John Fernandes.

The alimony reform bill would bar the courts from excluding specific considerations when calculating alimony after a divorce. An ex-spouse's age or chronic illness, as well as certain tax implications, would not be left out of the equation when determining the sum to be paid each month in spousal support.

Massachusetts enacted some alimony reforms in 2011. Prior to that, the family law courts relied on laws regarding alimony that were derived from English law in the 1700s. At that time in history, from a legal perspective, wives were considered to be the property of their husbands.

The Massachusetts Bar Association issued a statement in 2011 that the reformed laws permit family law judges to tweak the alimony terms, as opposed to issue blanket orders for lifetime alimony.

The new bill also deals retroactively with alimony that was ordered by the court before the new law took effect on March 1, 2012.

The bill proceeded to a committee for a recent informal session. In order to be considered by the Senate, H 4110 must now get voted on again by the House and pass.

Since the terms of the proposed bill are retroactive, it could affect the alimony terms of thousands of divorced Massachusetts residents. It's understandable that many who both pay and receive spousal support may be confused. Speaking to the family law attorney who handled your divorce may alleviate your concerns.

Source: The Berkshire Eagle, "Massachusetts House eyeing additional alimony reforms," Andy Metzger, April 19, 2016

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