Alimony, or spousal support, is a financial arrangement during and after a divorce where one spouse provides monetary support to the other.
In Massachusetts, the duration and amount of alimony depend on several factors, including the length of the marriage and the financial status of each spouse.
How does the length of the marriage affect things?
Alimony payments reflect how long the marriage lasted (in many cases). Generally, the longer the marriage, the longer the period of alimony. Massachusetts law categorizes marriages into different lengths for this purpose:
- Under 5 years: Alimony is typically not expected to exceed half the number of months of the marriage.
- 5 to 10 years: Alimony may last up to 60% of the number of months of the marriage.
- 10 to 15 years: Payments can continue for up to 70% of the marriage duration in months.
- 15 to 20 years: The court may award alimony for up to 80% of the number of months of the marriage.
- Over 20 years: In these cases, the court has the discretion to order alimony for an indefinite period.
It’s important to remember that alimony is not a given, no matter what the length of the marriage.
What are the different types of alimony?
Massachusetts recognizes different types of alimony, each with duration limits:
- General term alimony: Awarded to a financially dependent spouse, its duration is closely linked to the length of the marriage.
- Rehabilitative alimony: This is temporary and aims to support a spouse until they become self-sufficient, usually following re-education or retraining.
- Reimbursement alimony: Often short-term, it compensates a spouse for expenses like educational costs, typically in marriages under 5 years.
- Transitional alimony: This is to help a spouse adjust to a new lifestyle or location following a short marriage.
The duration of alimony can be modified based on changes in circumstances, such as the financial status of either spouse, remarriage or cohabitation of the recipient spouse. Additionally, the retirement of the payor can also be a reason for the modification or termination of alimony payments.
In Massachusetts, alimony is primarily influenced by the length of the marriage and the type of alimony awarded. It’s essential for individuals going through a divorce to understand these guidelines to understand what they may receive.