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How to determine alimony in Massachusetts

| Apr 17, 2020 | Firm News |

Alimony, or spousal support, is when one spouse pays a series of payments to the other following a divorce. Traditionally, the spouse with the higher income will pay the other so they can maintain the same quality of life they enjoyed during the marriage.

Determining alimony payments occurs during the divorce proceedings and requires evaluating several factors.

Types of spousal support

The State of Massachusetts family courts recognize and award four types of spousal support:

  • General alimony: A standard spousal support order, general alimony determines payments awarded to the ex that is financially dependent on the other.
  • Rehabilitative alimony: This type of spousal support goes to the financially dependent spouse over a set duration as they receive training or search for a job that supports them.
  • Reimbursement alimony: A spouse who sacrificed professional development while the other trained for their career may receive reimbursement alimony.
  • Transitional alimony: Exes looking to establish themselves or their families in a new location or lifestyle after the end of the marriage may receive transitional alimony.

The details revealed during litigation or negotiation will determine which types are appropriate for the suit. Arbitrators will weigh several factors when determining rewards:

  • Length of marriage
  • Physical and mental health of each spouse
  • Combined and individual income
  • Each spouse’s employment potential
  • Each spouse’s economic contribution to the marriage
  • Any economic opportunities lost due to the marriage
  • Child custody orders and living arrangements

Terminating conditions

Alimony term duration will vary in each case, largely dependent upon the length of the marriage itself. For marriages lasting less than five years, the duration of spousal support will last no longer than half the length of the marriage. For marriages longer than 20 years, alimony might last a lifetime. Alimony may also end prematurely if a spouse gets remarried or begins cohabitating with a new partner.

Those with questions about spousal support and drafting divorce agreements may find answers with a local lawyer experienced with family law.