New Hampshire’s alimony laws will get an overhaul on January 1st, with lawmakers hoping the new system will be more predictable.
Senate Bill 71 passed earlier this year on a bipartisan vote. Among other changes, it puts into statute a formula to determine how much a payor must contribute to a payee.
Divorce attorney Jim Ferro says without the formula, payments could vary widely depending on the jurisdiction.
“Under the old law, we used to call it the ‘wild wild west,’ if you will, because if you tried your case in five judges, you could get five different alimony answers,” says Ferro, who is also a certified marital mediator.
Under the new system, the amount of alimony is set at up to 30% of the difference between the ex-spouse’s incomes, though there are a number of factors that affect the calculation. The payments can last for up to half of the length of the marriage, or until the payor reaches retirement age. A judge does have discretion, according to Ferro, to modify the terms of the alimony payment. He says critics of the new law argue the formulas go too far in limiting a judge’s discretion.
On January 1st, the federal alimony statute is also changing. Payments will no longer be tax deductible, and receipt of alimony will no longer count as taxable income.