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Does the Alimony Reform Act Apply to Pre-Existing Judgments?

On January 30, 2015, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issued three decisions which clarified whether or not the retirement and cohabitation provisions of the Alimony Reform Act apply to alimony orders which occurred before March 1, 2012.

In Doktor v. Doktor and Rodman v. Rodman, the SJC ruled that the retirement provisions of the alimony reform act are prospective only and do not apply retroactively to alimony orders entered before March 1, 2012. Therefore, in those pre-Alimony Reform Act orders, it is not mandatory that alimony terminate upon the payor’s full retirement age.

In Chin v. Merriot, the Supreme Judicial Court ruled that cohabitation could still be argued as a material change of circumstances in order to modify a pre March 1, 2012 alimony order. However, the cohabitation provisions of the alimony reform act which make It mandatory to suspend, reduce or terminate an alimony order do not apply to  alimony decisions made prior to March 1, 2012.

All three cases tell us that only the durational limits for paying alimony, which are based upon the length of the marriage, apply to pre March 1, 2012 alimony judgments.

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