If you have read some of my earlier blogs describing the Alimony Reform Act of 2011, you are aware that Massachusetts, with the enactment of this legislation, limited the duration of alimony for short-term and mid-term marriages, and designated an age at which the payor would be released from the obligation of spousal support. The Act went on to designate the date that the payor could file a complaint for modification in the Probate Court, using the new Act as justification, to seek a court order to end the payment of alimony.
For instance, beginning on March 1, 2013, payors who were married for five years or less could file a modification action citing the Act to terminate alimony. Beginning March 1, 2014, payors who were married ten years or less, but more than five years, can file a modification action seeking to end alimony based upon the new statute.
The dates for filing modification actions based on the statute were staggered purposely in order to avoid a glut of litigation filed at one time. For those of you who do not qualify to file a modification at this time due to your being married for a longer duration, you are not precluded from filing if you have other reasons that equate to a material change of circumstances. Loss of employment and illness of the payor remain bases for a modification action to seek to reduce or terminate alimony notwithstanding the language of the new statute that staggered filing dates.
To date, there have been no appellate decisions that have come either from the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court or the Appeals Court which interprets the language of the statute. But stay tuned. The law is ever-evolving in order to keep up with society.