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Massachusetts divorce laws could begin a nationwide trend

Almost a year ago, Massachusetts revised their divorce laws. Little did they know that their revisions could spark a nationwide trend as now other states are considering changing their divorce laws in a similar fashion, and the rest of the nation watches. One of the main issues being addressed through the revisions is alimony.

In Massachusetts, lawmakers have questioned the fairness of awarding a spouse with long-lasting alimony payments in some cases. Their new laws addressed how much money a spouse could be awarded and how long they payments should be made. The idea behind the laws is that such payments can be changed to reflect one’s life circumstances. For example, if someone receiving alimony payments begins a new high-paying job, the court could consider modifying the amounts of payment.

Largely at issue are payments that span a person’s lifetime in situations of relatively short marriages that last less than five years. While a person can still seek this type of permanent payments, and it’s within the judge’s discretion to award it, under the Massachusetts law, short term alimony can be awarded. The intent of such an award is to support someone as they start a new business or job or bridging the gap to a spouse start’s receiving Social Security benefits at the age of 65.

While other states are not instituting the exact same changes as Massachusetts, it is clear the issues regarding alimony is an area of concern across the nation. The changes have both strong proponents and opponents. However, as in any case, it’s important that lawmakers consider all parties in the divorce and not sacrifice one person for the other. Each divorce case is unique making it important that states avoid a one-size-fits-all approach that could be detrimental to both parties.

Source: Fox Business, “Florida Bill Would Limit Spousal Support, Will the Trend Spread?” Kate Rogers, April 24, 2013

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