More states reforming their alimony/spousal support laws

Here in Texas, it can be very difficult for a former spouse to secure alimony/spousal support in the event of a divorce. In fact, it is generally only awarded in the following circumstances:

  • A former spouse has been convicted of a crime of family violence
  • The couple has been married for at least 10 years

While this may seem somewhat severe, it is important to remember that Texas is actually one of several states – including Utah, Mississippi, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and Florida, among others – to enact alimony caps/limitations based on age, length of the marriage, income and other such factors.

Interestingly, these so-called alimony reforms were introduced by their respective state legislatures in order to keep up with social changes and, more importantly, in recognition of the changing role of women in the workplace.

In fact, it now appears as if yet another state is poised to join the ranks of states that have enacted some sort of alimony/spousal support reform.

Last month, the Massachusetts Senate unanimously approved a measure that would drastically alter the state’s alimony laws/guidelines and terminate the concept of permanent alimony.

Some of the more notable features of Massachusetts’ new alimony law include:

  • Couples who divorce before five years of marriage may see a court award transitional alimony – designed to help a former spouse gain more firm financial footing or relocate – for only a few months or years
  • Couples who divorce after a least a decade of marriage may see a court award rehabilitative alimony – designed to help a former spouse reenter the workforce after many years/become self-sufficient – for only a set amount of time
  • Couples who divorce after many years of marriage may see a court award general term (i.e., ongoing) alimony. However, this could be terminated upon 1) the death of either spouse, 2) the remarriage of the former spouse receiving the support or 3) the cohabitation of the former spouse receiving the support with a new financially supportive partner for at least three months

This new alimony law also received unanimous support in the Massachusetts House and, if signed by Governor Deval Patrick, will go in effect on March 1, 2012.

What are your thoughts on Massachusetts’ new alimony law? What about the laws here in Texas?

Stay tuned for more from our Ft. Worth family law blog …

To learn more about divorce, alimony or life after divorce, contact an experienced and skilled legal professional.

This post is for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.

Related Resources:

The Washington Times “States no longer wedded to the idea of alimony for life” July 28, 2011