Massachusetts put a stop to most lifetime alimony payments yesterday, in what some are telling the Boston Globe are "the most dramatic change to family law in decades." The measure, which ends most support either when the alimony recipient moves in with another romantic partner or when the payor hits retirement age, takes effect in March 2012, the Wall Street Journal reports. Until now, it was common for judges in the state to award permanent alimony, but more payors nationwide have been attempting to modify their arrangements due to the weak economy.
Under the new law, alimony will be established using a new formula based on marriage length; for a 15-year union, payments would typically last up to 10½ years. But for long-term marriages, judges can still award indefinite alimony; they can also order “reimbursement alimony” after shorter-term marriages where one spouse covered an expense for the other, like education. Permanent spousal support has become increasingly rare in the US, and this law reflects “the fact that both parties, more often than not, are working outside the home and there are more opportunities for people, women in particular,” says one state senator who sponsored the bill.