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Alimony Modification

JLRB's picture

My husband's divorce from his first wife became final in 2012, just before the alimony laws were reformed in Massachusetts. It was a long term marriage resulting in three adults kids. His ex has been cohabitating with her boyfriend for one year. She is unable to work due to a disability, but receives social security disability payments. My husband currently pays her $400 a week, plus 25% of his annual bonus, for a total of $25,000 a year. He also has to keep her on his health and dental insurance and pays for a life insurance policy for $100,000 with her as the beneficiary. Even though he makes more than double my salary, I end up paying more than 1/2 of our monthly bills because of his alimony payments.

His divorce agreement states that alimony would end when either one of them dies, she gets remarried, or the agreement is modified by the courts. The current law states that alimony ends when the payor reaches full retirement age, which is less than 2 years for my husband. We have talked about seeking a modification to lower the payments due to her cohabitation, and to make sure that the payments stop when he reaches the age of 66. Massachusetts also will consider modification if the ex-spouse is living with someone and receiving financial support from them. I am 12 years younger than him and am afraid that I will be working to support her after my husband retires.

He has been dragging his feet to start the modification process because he feels that the judge won't overturn another judge's decision. Has anyone else had experience with this?

JLRB's picture

Thanks for all of your comments. He hasn't spoken to a lawyer, but said that he has heard that judges are hesitant to overturn another judge's decision. I think it is well worth the try though. The ex-wife has MS and is unable to work. She collects SS disability, but she insists that she still needs coverage on his health insurance, probably because it is stipulated in his divorce agreement. Because of this, I have to carry my own health insurance, which costs us more money each month than if we could be on one health insurance. She lives with her boyfriend, who owns his own company, and she is certainly not destitute. She drives a nice SUV and has plenty of money to spend on herself. Even a reduction in alimony would be helpful. She does nothing to contribute to his earning his yearly bonus, yet she ends up with almost the same amount as him (approximately $4,000). She gets 25% of the gross amount, while he gets hit with the taxes.

Once he reaches full retirement age in less than 2 years, she would be eligible to collect social security benefits through him, even if he chooses not to retire yet. In my opinion, she shouldn't be able to collect benefits plus maintain the current alimony amount. According to him, the divorce process cost them both a lot of money and was very ugly and he's afraid of having to go through that again with a modification. Even though he says he'll look into modification, he doesn't, which frustrates me. He said he won't pay alimony after he retires, but that is not what it says in his divorce agreement. She's the one who filed for divorce and we met after his divorce was final.

We do make a decent combined salary and are able to pay our bills, but we don't live an extravagant lifestyle. After taxes and alimony, there isn't a lot left over to save towards retirement. We had each sold our homes and together bought a condo, so we do have a mortgage. We don't take vacations and rarely eat out. I feel like I need to watch out for my future due to the difference in our ages. I don't want to be supporting her after he retires.

still learning's picture

Ugh alimony. DH pays his ex each month even though she earned three degrees while they were married, the kids were grown by the time they divorced and she is in good health and holds a steady job. He has 5 more years of this BS. He did consult a lawyer, the lawyer basically said if there has not been a major change in circumstance such as her remarriage or cohabitation (which is difficult to prove) then there is nothing they can really do. Ex had a lawyer, DH didn't. Ex also gets part of his pension and like yours can draw from his soc sec. Amazing how archaic the US's alimony laws are. You are financially chained for life if you ever married.

It sounds like you'd be better off if you divorced DH and collected alimony too! Just kidding...sorta

JLRB's picture

Still learning, we have consulted with a lawyer and they are in the process of filing for a modification through the courts. We'll see how that goes. Unfortunately, DH wouldn't be able to afford to pay me alimony too! Good thing I love him, huh?