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Several states push for changes to alimony laws

Many divorced individuals in Riverside understand the complexities of spousal support. Generally, there are two ways to look at alimony. First is from the payor's perspective. The spouse who earned more during the marriage may be required to pay a former partner monthly spousal support for as long as a judge orders. In some cases, lifetime alimony can be ordered. While some feel that alimony is not always warranted, those who receive it likely have a different opinion. Perhaps they didn't work during a marriage and now have to find a job with little experience to include on their resumes.

No matter which side they fall on, Riverside residents and others across California may be interested in a surge of movements in other states calling for reform to alimony laws. One state has already implemented changes, and legislatures in several others are considering proposals to overhaul spousal support laws.

Massachusetts was the first state to adjust its alimony laws. The new laws created different types of alimony, each dependent on how long a couple was married and how much each spouse earns. Other changes to the law included a new option for a person paying alimony to request a modification later, and once a person who receives alimony begins living with a new partner or reaches retirement age, alimony checks will end.

Those in favor of the changes point to the fact that many alimony laws were created decades ago, when women rarely worked outside the home and divorce was much less common. Now that nearly 60 percent of women work outside the home and earn significantly more money than they did 30 years ago, some say parts of alimony laws -- like lifetime alimony -- are no longer fair.

Others however, are worried about doing away with long-time alimony payments, since many times those receiving spousal support are women who did not work outside the home during a marriage and could have a very difficult time going back into the workforce.

Clearly, there are two sides to this story. It will be interesting to see if alimony reform becomes a topic of discussion for California legislators.

Source: USA Today, "Should alimony laws be changed?" Yamiche Alcindor, Jan. 18, 2012

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