The Alimony Reform Act of 2011 defined what alimony is and how it should work in much greater detail than the prior law. The Alimony Reform Act, 2011 Mass. Acts ch. 124. However, it also left many questions unanswered. In the six years since the Act became effective, on March 1, 2012, the courts have slowly been further clarifying, and in some cases arguably undercutting, the Act. In this article, we will summarize the provisions of the Act and note the court cases that have affected the language of those sections.
The Act separates alimony into four different types, with distinct purposes. The type of alimony that most cases will have is dubbed “general term alimony” and refers to any type of support paid by one ex-spouse to another ex-spouse who is “economically dependent.” §48, supra. Section 4 of the Act, which was not incorporated into the General Laws, indicates that prior alimony awards “shall be deemed general term alimony.” The Alimony Reform Act, supra at §4.
“the length of the marriage; age of the parties; health of the parties; income, employment and employability of both parties, including employability through reasonable diligence and additional training, if necessary; economic and non-economic contribution of both parties 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 considers relevant and material.” Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 208 §53 (2012) [hereinafter §53].
The Tax Cut and Jobs Act defines the term ‘divorce or separation instrument’ as: