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How Massachusetts’ alimony laws could affect your divorce

| Sep 15, 2020 | Family Law |

During your marriage, your spouse might have earned most – if not all – your household’s income. If you two have decided to divorce, you will likely worry about how you will get by without their support. You may have a plan for becoming self-sufficient, yet it might take several years or longer before you can make ends meet on your own. Under Massachusetts law, you may qualify for alimony during this period.

Types of alimony in Massachusetts

Four types of alimony exist in Massachusetts. The type you receive will depend on the specifics of your situation. If you will be able to support yourself in the future, but not now, your spouse may have to pay you rehabilitative alimony until then. Yet, due to your divorce, you may be moving. Or, you might need to establish a new standard of living afterward. In these cases, your spouse may provide you transitional alimony instead, which will ease these adjustments. If you made contributions or sacrifices to help advance your spouse’s career, you may receive reimbursement alimony for these. And if you depended upon your spouse for support, you will likely receive general alimony for a percentage of your marriage’s length.

Keep in mind that both reimbursement and transitional alimony end after five years. General and rehabilitative alimony can last longer as needed.

Factors that affect alimony in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, the duration you receive alimony for depends on the number of months your marriage lasted. Your marriage may have been short, lasting for less than five years. In this case, you will receive alimony for no more than 50% the number of months you were married. For each additional five-year period up to 20 years, this figure increases by 10%. If your marriage lasted 20 years or longer, you may qualify for indefinite alimony.

To determine the value of your alimony award, state courts will consider the disparity between you and your spouse’s incomes. The monthly support you receive will not exceed 30 to 35% of this difference, unless your circumstances require deviation from this guideline.

Your broader domestic situation will also affect your alimony award. Besides the length of your marriage and you and your spouse’s incomes, the court will consider:

  • The economic contributions you and your spouse made to your marriage
  • Whether you or your spouse lost out on economic opportunities due to your marriage
  • You and your spouse’s current and future employment prospects
  • You and your spouse’s health
  • You and your spouse’s standard of living

Many factors affect alimony and understanding them is key to making it part of your divorce settlement. By familiarizing yourself with Massachusetts’ alimony laws, you can work toward receiving an award that reflects your needs.