Bay State lawmakers propose alimony reform bill

Massachusetts lawmakers have proposed a new alimony reform bill that would significantly alter how alimony payments are determined in the state and place caps on payment duration, according to published reports.

The bill, known as the Massachusetts Alimony Reform Act of 2011, would allow judges to base alimony awards on the recipients actual financial need for spousal support and end payments for long-term marriages at retirement age. In addition, short-term marriages would receive earlier caps and payments would end if the recipient remarried or began living with another partner.

A task force began working on the reform effort more than a year ago, according to the Boston Business Journal, which said it was started by Judiciary Co-chairs Senator Cynthia Creem and Representative Eugene O’Flaherty.

“The word I’ve heard is there is a lot of momentum behind this bill, and that legislators are motivated to do something about this issue,” Kelly Leighton, a local divorce attorney and co-chair of the Boston Bar Associations family law section, told the newspaper.

Multiple states have recently proposed legislation to alter outdated alimony laws. In West Virginia, lawmakers are advocating a bill that would not require an individual to pay alimony if their partner had an affair during their marriage.