Alimony

While getting a divorce signifies the end of your marital relationship it does not mean that your financial obligations to each other are over. Alimony is a support payment from one spouse to the other that can continue long after your divorce is finalized. In fact, in Massachusetts the court can order alimony in marriages of almost any length and under a variety of circumstances. The Massachusetts alimony law is complex and every situation requires a careful analysis of how the intricacies of the law relate to the specific facts of your case. In addition, the law is multifaceted in that the court is required to consider the amount and duration of alimony when deciding how to divide the marital assets.

With so much at stake, alimony is often one of the most contentious aspects of a divorce. A mastery of the nuances and technicalities of the Massachusetts alimony law are vital to protect you from paying alimony when it is not warranted or to fight for spousal support when it is appropriate. A comprehensive understanding of the interplay between alimony, property division and child support is necessary to ensure that you are treated fairly under the Massachusetts alimony law.

Types of Alimony in Massachusetts

There are four categories of alimony in Massachusetts under which each category contains its own set of terms and conditions. The four types of alimony are General Term Alimony, Rehabilitative Alimony, Reimbursement Alimony, and Transitional Alimony.

General Term Alimony is the periodic payment of support to a recipient spouse who is economically dependent. The maximum length of general term alimony is determined by a percentage of the overall length of marriage. The court may deviate from these percentages if it is found that deviation is “required to in the interest of justice.” In addition, when determining the length of marriage the court may include the period of time that you cohabitated with your spouse prior to the marriage. Cohabitation by the alimony recipient may also be considered after the divorce as a reason for suspending, reducing or terminating alimony. In any event, general term alimony terminates on the remarriage of the recipient spouse, the attainment by the payor of retirement age, or the death of either party.

Rehabilitative Alimony is the periodic payment of support to a recipient spouse who is expected to become economically self-sufficient by a predicted time, such as reemployment, completion of job training or receipt of a sum due from the payor spouse under a judgment. Rehabilitative Alimony should not extend beyond a maximum of five years unless the court finds “compelling circumstances” to continue it longer.

Reimbursement Alimony is the payment of support in marriages not longer than 5 years to compensate the recipient spouse for economic or noneconomic contributions of the payor spouse, such as enabling the payor spouse to complete his/her education. In other words, a spouse who received financial assistance from the other while attending college or graduate school may be obliged to pay back the other upon divorce.

Transitional Alimony is the periodic or one-time payment of support to a recipient spouse after a marriage of not more than 5 years to transition the recipient spouse to an adjusted lifestyle or location as result of the divorce.

Massachusetts Alimony Factors – Deciding the Issue of Alimony

Alimony is said to be a payment of support from a spouse who has the ability to pay to the spouse in need of support. While this definition includes the basic principle that an award of alimony requires both the “ability to pay” and the “need for support”, the issue of alimony is based on a set of mandatory factors that the court must consider when determining the appropriate form, duration and amount of alimony. Specifically, the court shall consider the length of marriage, age of the parties, health of the parities, income; and employment and employability of both parties, including employability through reasonable diligence and additional training. If necessary the court will also consider the economic and non-economic contribution of both parties to the marriage, marital lifestyle, ability of each party to maintain the marital lifestyle, lost economic opportunity as a result of the marriage and such other factors as the court considers relevant and material.

Contact a Skilled Massachusetts Alimony Lawyer

The Massachusetts alimony law contains a mix of technical requirements along with many areas that are subject to interpretation and judicial discretion. The interplay between the statutory constraints and the areas subject to interpretation require a skilled Massachusetts alimony lawyer that understands the details of the alimony law. As alimony can impact your financial situation for many years following your divorce it is imperative that you obtain an experienced Massachusetts alimony attorney. We use our years of experience as Salem alimony lawyers to craft a well reasoned strategy designed to provide a fair and just result under the Massachusetts alimony law.

If you are going through a divorce and you have questions about alimony, please call us to schedule an consultation. We have the experience and legal knowledge that you need.