Spousal support—still described in Massachusetts statutes by the traditional term alimony—refers to payments made by one spouse to the other during and after a divorce. The law does not presume that a spouse is entitled to alimony, so it is up to the attorneys involved to show why support should or should not be ordered in a particular divorce case.
If you are seeking alimony or believe your former partner will be requesting support, the team at Reade Law Firm, PC can advocate on your behalf to secure the most beneficial arrangements for your future. While we work to resolve issues efficiently through negotiation whenever possible, we have the skill, knowledge, and experience to succeed in reaching your goals through litigation when necessary.
Types of Alimony in Massachusetts
Various types of spousal support may be awarded depending on the situation and history of the marriage. While the divorce is pending, the court may order one spouse to pay temporary alimony to cover living expenses, and also funds to cover legal costs associated with the divorce. In addition, the court can order the coverage of health insurance during the proceedings as well.
After the divorce becomes final, the types of alimony available depend on the length of the marriage. If the marriage lasted less than five years, the court could order reimbursement alimony to compensate one spouse for contributions (not necessarily monetary) that enabled the other spouse to complete education, undergo job training, or accomplish something that increased their earning ability. A judge could also award transitional alimony to enable a spouse to adjust to a new lifestyle or location.
For marriages of five years or more, the court might order rehabilitative alimony to enable a spouse to become economically self-sufficient. These payments would continue only for a limited time. If a spouse is “economically dependent” due to marital decisions, age, illness, or other circumstances, a court can award general term alimony, which could be extensive for couples in lengthy marriages. General term alimony is the most commonly used in Massachusetts, and is applied to a “traditional” marriage where one party earned more income.
Factors for Setting Alimony
Courts are required to consider several factors before determining whether to award alimony and how long payments should continue. These include:
- Health and age of each spouse
- Employment and employment potential of each spouse
- Marital lifestyle
- A spouse’s lost economic opportunity due to their marriage role
- Other factors considered relevant
At Reade Law Firm, we work to ensure that the court hears each factor that weighs in your favor.
Limits on General Alimony
Massachusetts law now sets specific limits on the length of time general term alimony may be ordered, unless a marriage has lasted 20 years or more. For marriages between 15 and 20 years, the amount of alimony cannot continue for more than 80% of the length of the marriage. That percentage decreases to 70% for marriages between 10 and 15 years, 60% for marriages between 5 and 10 years, and 50% for marriages lasting less than 5 years.
If a spouse receiving alimony remarries or lives together with a partner in a “common household” for at least three months, the obligation to pay alimony can be reduced or discontinued. However, the duty to pay alimony can be reinstated if the common household arrangement comes to an end.
Secure Your Goals for Alimony with the Help of Reade Law Firm, PC
Whether you are seeking alimony or want to limit your spousal support obligations, the experienced team at Reade Law Firm, PC understands how to gain your objectives through negotiation or litigation. We work to reach agreements outside of court whenever possible to save time and money, but with decades of experience advocating for clients in court, we know how to present your best arguments to the judge.
To protect your interests during and after the divorce, schedule a confidential consultation with our team today.