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Some states seek to change alimony rules

On Behalf of | Jun 5, 2013 | Divorce |

limony is the modern expression of the ancient idea that, upon marriage, a man is financially responsible for a woman for life. That idea has definitely changed in modern times and now, some states are attempting to limit the amount of time that an ex-spouse is required to pay alimony after a divorce.

For example, last year, a law went into effect in Massachusetts that established formulas to determine an ex-spouse’s alimony responsibilities based upon the length of the marriage. The goal is to avoid situations that require a person to continue to pay alimony despite a change in circumstances, either his own or his ex-spouse’s. Some other states are beginning to consider passing similar laws.

Decades ago, many women were stay-at-home moms with few employment prospects after a divorce. The alimony system developed to provide them with the income they needed when they were on their own. Today, however, most couples are made up of individuals who each have their own careers. Even in cases where there is a disparity in income, it is no longer true that one person will automatically need financial assistance for the rest of his or her life.

Critics of these sorts of alimony reform proposals point out, however, that these efforts end up hurting those who have sacrificed advancing in their own careers in order to make things easier for their spouses. Though a person may have better post-divorce prospects for employment currently, his or her spouse may have been able to accrue substantial assets in investments. Rather than establishing hard guidelines, critics suggest that alimony decisions ought to be left to the discretion of a judge.