Following years of concerted advocacy efforts — buttressed by its active participation in the Legislative Alimony Task Force, co-chaired by Sen. Gale Candaras and Rep. John Fernandes — the Boston Bar Association celebrated a major step forward in alimony reform as the Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 1989 today. Pending the Governor’s signature, the legislation will go into effect March 2012.
This measure will bring much needed consistency in alimony orders throughout Massachusetts, and will establish a timeline for payments, granting payments based on the years of marriage. If someone is married five years or less, the person receiving alimony would get payment for half of the number of months of the marriage. A marriage lasting 5 to 10 years would result in alimony awards for as much as 60 percent of the number of months of the marriage. For a 10 to 15-year marriage, judges would award payment for no more than 70 percent of the number of months the couple was married. The spouse of a marriage of 15 to 20 years would be entitled to payments up to 80 percent of the number of months of marriage. It would still be up to a judge’s discretion on how many months of payments to award for any marriage longer than 20 years.
The BBA’s work on alimony reform began several years ago, when the BBA and the MBA convened a joint task force to study the alimony issue and make recommendations for improvement. In 2010 the BBA endorsed the report of that joint task force, which was utilized in the drafting of “The Alimony Reform Act of 2011.