Right now one of the more interesting discussions in matrimonial law in Massachusetts is how long should alimony last. Currently, judges lack the authority to terminate alimony with any finality, due in part to the fact that unless there is an agreement between the parties that the court won’t be able to change the alimony provisions, any judgment regarding alimony is not necessarily final and often must be rather open-ended (or as we in the trade describe it alimony ends at death or the recipient’s remarriage).
This has resulted in a lot of anomalous situations, the most common of which has to do with retirement. As a result, there is a move afoot to eliminate alimony upon the retirement of the payor spouse. There is currently a case pending before the SJC which will determine how this goes. Boston Magazine had an interesting article on this recently. However, as with so much in family law, there can be circumstances that require a different result, as well as the application of judicial discretion. David Cherny, another prominent divorce attorney in Boston, had an interesting comment on Fox News in this regard.
As with so much else in divorce, I think the question of alimony should be decided on a case by case basis. Formulas tend to miss the realities and nuances of people’s lives and a divorce decision should, if possible, honor that.