Alimony: Exceptions to Durational Limits in Massachusetts

| Jul 24, 2017 | Alimony |

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The Massachusetts alimony reform statute states that “alimony awards which exceed the durational limits established 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.” The court must then look to whether deviation is “required in the interests of justice.”

In a case of first impression, the Supreme Judicial Court in George v. George determined that (1) the alimony recipient bears the burden of proving that deviation beyond the presumptive termination date is required in the interests of justice, and (2) the judge must look at the circumstances of the parties at the time the termination of alimony is sought, as opposed to the circumstances of the parties at the time of the initial award of alimony.

Additional factors that may be considered are the same statutory factors that judges must consider in making an initial alimony award.

Those factors include:

  • Advanced age, chronic illness, or unusual health circumstances of either party;
  • Tax considerations applicable to the parties;
  • Whether the payor spouse is providing health insurance and the cost of health insurance for the recipient spouse;
  • Whether the payor spouse has been ordered to secure life insurance for the benefit of the recipient spouse and the cost of such insurance;
  • Sources and amounts of unearned income, including capital gains, interest and dividends, annuity, and investment income from assets that were not allocated in the parties’ divorce;
  • Significant pre-marital cohabitation that included economic partnership or marital separation of significant duration, each of which the court may consider in determining the length of the marriage;
  • A party’s inability to provide for that party’s own support by reason of physical or mental abuse by the payor;
  • A party’s inability to provide for that party’s own support by reason of that party’s deficiency of property, maintenance, or employment opportunity; and
  • Upon written findings, any other factor that the court deems relevant and material.

Whether you are the recipient or payor of alimony, contact the Law Offices of Renee Lazar either through email or telephone 978-844-4095 to schedule a FREE one hour no obligation consultation to discuss whether filing a complaint for modification is in your best interests.

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