Wedding cake bride and groom figures are displayed for sale in London.

Jeremy Hobson: This week, Massachusetts decided that alimony is no longer "'til death do us part." The state is abolishing lifetime spousal support after divorce in most cases.

Curt Nickisch reports from WBUR in Boston.


Curt Nickisch: Forty-five thousand dollars a year -- that's how much Steve Hitner was paying his ex-wife -- for life.

Steve Hitner: Divorced in Massachusetts, you've hit the lottery!

To make the payments, his second wife had to get a second job. It didn't make sense to him.

Steve Hitner: The idea of alimony for life was born of another age, when women didn't work.

Hitner's case prompted the state legislature to reform the system. Short marriages here no longer require long payouts. Most alimony ceases at retirement now. And it also stops cold when the ex-spouse moves in with a new partner.

Maria Cognetti is with American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. She says other states are also rethinking alimony.

Maria Cognetti: The economy's forced us to look at how we apply the law.

Cognetti says being out of work makes it harder for exes to pay up, and that's been exposing cases where the system could be more fair. Florida and Tennessee have already made changes.

In Boston, I'm Curt Nickisch, for Marketplace.

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