Alimony or spousal support is a series of payments that one spouse pays to their former spouse after they've divorced. Spousal support isn't always awarded to a spouse; it depends on the financial circumstances of the parties. The intent is for the spouse with a higher income to help financially support the spouse with lesser income and lesser income opportunities when that spouse has been financially supported by the spouse during the marriage.
Types of Massachusetts Alimony
Massachusetts recognizes four types of alimony:
- General Alimony: Support paid to ex-spouse that's financially dependent on the former spouse.
- Rehabilitative Alimony: Support paid to ex-spouse that is expected to support themselves within a certain amount of time.
- Reimbursement Alimony: Support to compensate a spouse who sacrificed career advancement to help their spouse train for professional career.
- Transitional Alimony: Support to help an ex-spouse establish themselves in a new location or lifestyle after divorce.
Summary of Massachusetts Alimony and Spousal Support Laws
Reading and comprehending Massachusetts' statues can be very difficult. You can save time, but still get a handle on the law by reading a plain English form of the content. See the chart below for a simple summary of the laws that govern Massachusetts spousal support.
Massachusetts General Laws, Part II, Chapter 208:
Factors to Determine the Form of Alimony
The court considers the following factors to determine the appropriate form of alimony and to set the amount and duration of support:
- The length of the marriage;
- The health of the spouses;
- The income of the spouses;
- The spouses' employment and employment potential;
- The couple's standard of living and lifestyle; established during the marriage;
- Each spouse's economic contribution to the marriage;
- Any loss of economic opportunities that either party had due to the marriage; and
- Any other factor that the court thinks is relevant.
Termination and Modification
Termination of Alimony
Alimony terminates upon the following:
- The remarriage of the recipient;
- The cohabitation of the recipient; or
- The death of either spouse; however, the court may require the payor spouse to provide life insurance (or another form of reasonable security) for payment of sums due to the recipient in the event of the payor's death during the alimony term.
Modification of Alimony
- If there's a material change of circumstances, there may be a modification in duration or amount.
- Modification may be permanent, indefinite, or for a finite duration.
Duration of Alimony
For general alimony, if the marriage is:
- 5 years or less: Alimony is no more than half the length of the marriage.
- More than 5 years, less than 10 years: Alimony is no more than 60 percent of the length of the marriage.
- More than 10 years, less than 15 years: Alimony is no more than 70 percent of the length of the marriage.
- More than 15 years, less than 20 years: Alimony is no more than 80 percent of the length of the marriage.
- More than 20 years: Alimony can be lifetime.
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Massachusetts Alimony and Spousal Support Laws: Related Resources
Contact a Massachusetts Attorney About Alimony/Spousal Support Issues
Questions regarding alimony or spousal support are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to a divorce which is why it's helpful to have an experienced professional who can explain the process as well as all of the issues that might arise. If you're getting a divorce and need more information about Massachusetts alimony law, then get in contact with an experienced family law attorney located near you.