Going through a divorce and figuring out how alimony in Massachusetts works can be confusing, overwhelming, and emotionally taxing.
What is Alimony in Massachusetts?
Alimony, which is commonly known as spousal support, is financial support that one spouse may pay to the other after a divorce. Its primary purpose is to help the lower-earning spouse maintain a similar standard of living they had during the marriage for a specified duration.
Different Types of Spousal Support in Massachusetts
There are four types of spousal support in Massachusetts.
- General Term Alimony: This is typically awarded in longer marriages and provides ongoing financial support to the recipient spouse. There are maximum lengths of alimony based on the length of the marriage:
- Marriages of 5 years or less: 50% of the number of months of the marriage
- Marriages of 10 years or less: 60% of the number of months of the marriage
- Marriages of 15 years or less: 70% of the number of months of the marriage
- Marriages of 20 years or less: 80% of the number of months of the marriage
- Marriages more than 20 years: typically, until retirement
Rehabilitative Alimony: Designed to support the recipient spouse while they acquire the necessary skills or education to become financially independent. It has a specific end date. The duration is not to exceed more than five years.
Reimbursement Alimony: Awarded when one spouse supported the other in pursuing higher education or career training during the marriage. The recipient spouse is reimbursed for the support they provided. This only applies to marriages of five years or less.
Transitional Alimony: Provides financial assistance for a short period to help the recipient spouse adjust to a new life situation, such as relocation or reestablishing themselves. This only applies to marriages of five years or less.
Factors Considered in Alimony Determination
When determining negotiating spousal support in mediation couples can take many factors in to account, such as:
- Length of the marriage
Financial needs of both parties
Income and employability
Standard of living during the marriage
Contributions to the marriage — financial (earnings) and non-financial (raising the children)
Age and health
Other relevant factors: Any other relevant circumstances may be taken into account, such as child support and tax consequences.
Can Alimony Change Over Time in Massachusetts?
Yes. The modifiability of spousal support is something you will decide together in mediation.
Alimony orders in Massachusetts are not usually set in stone. They can be modified if there is a significant change in circumstances for either spouse. For example, if the paying spouse loses their job or the recipient spouse secures a well-paying job, the alimony arrangement might be revisited.
Why it’s important to consult an attorney if you want advice about spousal support
Your mediator will educate you and facilitate your negotiation. However, the mediator will always remain neutral about the decisions you make. The court prefers divorcing couples to seek independent legal counsel (ideally from a mediation-friendly divorce attorney) to help provide guidance. The law around support obligations is complex and getting advice can help folks mediating make better informed decisions.
How can I learn more about how mediation can help us figure out alimony?
If you would to learn more about how mediation can help you figure out alimony in Massachusetts schedule a free half-hour consultation with Ben.