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Is it time for alimony reform in Alabama?

For quite some time, alimony has been included in divorce settlement as a means to help balance some financial inequities in the wake of divorce. If one spouse earns significantly more than the other, the one who has the higher income may be required to make monthly payments indefinitely.

Some have pointed out that the way alimony is currently structured in most states is based on family dynamics that are no longer the norm. This is why people throughout the country have pushed for family law reforms, which often includes putting an end to lifetime alimony as a standard practice. As this conversation continues, many may be wondering whether or not changes should come to Alabama state law.

As of March 2012, Massachusetts' alimony laws changed, reflecting a number of reforms. Although the law has been in effect for less than two years, proponents of change say that this particular law is a "model" for reform in other states.

Under the Massachusetts law, alimony payments are based on need and there are clear time limits on marriages lasting 20 years or less. This is said to better reflect modern families, because most laws were created when men were typically the only income earner. The idea, at the time, was that women were often in need of support, since they were not likely to work outside the home even after divorce.

On the other hand, some have found that implementing the terms of the law has proved to be more difficult than originally thought. The language of the law is reportedly so vague that judges have difficulty adhering to it. In other cases, judges simply ignore it.

Of course, family law issues are very complex. If lawmakers in Alabama take up the issue of alimony, the hope is that decisions are made with the best interests of families in mind. As discussion of reform continues, it may be important for individuals to determine if any changes to the law will impact their divorce proceedings.

Source: The Boston Globe, "New Mass. alimony law a ‘model’ — but is it working?" Bella English, Oct. 20, 2013

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