Massachusetts Alimony Law Limits Payments to Ex-Spouses

Divorcees, second husbands and second wives may find reason to rejoice in Massachusetts. On Monday, Gov. Deval Patrick signed into law the Alimony Reform Act of 2011, a law limiting alimony payments and abolishing most lifetime spousal entitlements.

The new law establishes a formula for alimony, based on the length of the marriage, and says payments will now end when the paying ex-spouse reaches retirement age or the receiving ex-spouse lives with a romantic partner.

However, courts still have flexibility, such as special circumstances and awarding indefinite alimony for longer marriages, according to the Boston Globe.

The 2nd Wives Club, under its parent group Mass Alimony Reform, has been fighting for more than two years to limit what they said were excessive payments to former spouses. The 2nd Wives Club consisted mostly of married women who said Massachusetts judges’ rulings forced them to contribute to alimony payments for their partners’ ex-wives.

Deborah Scanlan, the club’s chairwoman, told ABC News in 2009 that because a judge took into account her $58,000 income as an executive assistant, her husband Daniel Gingras’ alimony payments totaled $26,000 a year, about $16,000 more than they would have otherwise.

Steve Hitner, president of Mass Alimony Reform, sent a message to his email distribution list on Tuesday saying, “the event we have all been waiting for has finally happened.”

He said the law is “a complicated piece of legislation, written to address many years of out-dated case law and is a monumental  change in social policy.”

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