Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Proposed Changes to Alimony Legislation

The Wall Street Journal reports on political pressure building in some states to limit alimony in various ways, all getting at the core debate over the purpose of long-term alimony these days.  The report mentions legislation being introduced in Massachusetts, Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania.  Read the full article here.

For a taste of the proposed changes, check out HB 1785, currently pending in the Massachusetts legislature.

The goal [of the bill is that] "any party needing alimony shall be self-supporting within a reasonable period of time."

It defines that period by capping alimony awards at half the duration of a marriage, with a maximum of 12 years unless the supported spouse still has custody of a child or children under 16 years old.

The House bill also would require alimony payments after five years to drop 10 percent annually, with the same caveat on custody of minors or if a recipient is unable to be gainfully employed.

Paying alimony would end upon retirement age. Increases in payments would be tied to the Consumer Price Index. The ability to pay would be determined by recent income, not including the resources of new significant others.

Finally, the bill says many alimony orders that do not comply with the new rules should be amended in court.

Read news coverage of the MA bill here.

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