Diamonds May Last Forever, But Should Alimony and Spousal Support? Proposed Reform Legislation Takes Aim at Passe Lifetime Alimony Law

Husband and Wife marry in their early twenties.

Husband and Wife divorce … less than five years later.

The divorce court awards Wife what Massachusetts calls “lifetime” alimony of $65 per week.

Thirty years later, Husband is still paying Wife $65 each week. Which may not seem like such a burden in this day and age.

But Wife now seeks to modify her alimony award upward.

And the family court grants Wife’s request.

So, thirty years after their divorce, Husband must now pay his long ago Wife of under five years … $700 … per week.

And so it goes … in Massachusetts, where lifetime alimony is commonplace, even in short-term marriages. (Not so in Florida, unless there are unusual, special circumstances.)

Reformers have been targeting this alimony and spousal support law for several years, arguing that it does not fit modern values and expectations.

Proposed legislation would all but do away with “lifetime” alimony, limit the duration of all alimony based on the length of the marriage, end alimony at retirement age, and even impose a ceiling on the amount of alimony that can be court-ordered.

The proposed legislation also introduces different types of alimony, to address different possible particular needs of dependent spouses. For example, rehabilitative alimony for career training or retraining.

Whether the proposed changes in the alimony law are good or bad are, of course, subjective and depend upon whether one more closely identifies with a payor or a recipient.

Read more in this Albany [NY] Times Union article: Mass. considers ending ‘lifetime alimony’.