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MA same-sex couples and the impact on divorce and alimony

As many Americans know, the Supreme Court recently decided that same-sex couples that are married will be recognized as such under federal laws that effect marital rights and privileges. For these couples, this opens the door to Social Security, beneficiary designations, divorce, alimony and so much more.

When it comes to divorce, same-sex couples will be faced with many of the questions that divorcing couples are currently faced with, including the possibility of alimony. Alimony is spousal support that comes from a former spouse in order to limit the negative financial effect of divorce.

States such as Massachusetts have very specific requirements when it comes to determining alimony. Alimony laws effect same-sex couples in the same way that it affects straight couples. Limits are set in relation to the length of the marriage, and how long payments can be received.

A marriage under 5 years, for example, may only require alimony payments for half of the length of that marriage. Longer marriages, between 15 and 20 years, may require payment for up to 80 percent of the marriage time

Massachusetts's law has changed in order to reflect recent trends. Women are able to provide financially more than they have in the past, and the new law reflects that assertion. These ideals do not apply to same-sex couples, so only time will tell in seeing how the new alimony laws will affect same-sex marriages.

Any individual in the state of Massachusetts experiencing a divorce or trying to figure out a particularly complex same-sex marriage divorce should research and understand their legal rights. Knowledge is power, especially in a divorce. It can be the key to ensure fair treatment.

Source: Times Union, "Major retirement benefits for married same-sex couples," Julie Jason, July 6, 2013.