Massachusetts Spousal Support (Alimony)

In Massachusetts, a judge may issue an order for temporary spousal support (alimony) during the course of a divorce. In a final divorce order, the court may also order either spouse to pay spousal support on a permanent basis. Both the amount and duration of a court's alimony award may vary on a case-by-case basis. The court also has a right to order that neither party shall receive alimony payments.

Spouses that wish to enter into a structured divorce settlement may choose to include alimony or waive it — subject to final approval by the court. Since the tax implications of alimony payments are different from that of child support payments, an award of spousal support and its tax implications should be considered in any final divorce settlement.

To schedule an initial consultation with a Massachusetts spousal support lawyer, contact Mavrides Law today. The firm has offices in Boston and Quincy, Massachusetts.

Alimony Determination in Massachusetts

Commencing March 1, 2012, the Alimony Reform Act of 2011 went into effect. Prior to the effective date of this landmark legislation, Massachusetts Judges were not guided by legislation and did not use a uniform formula or method for determining the amount of alimony to be paid or the duration it was required to be paid. With the requirements of this legislation, the Judges are given guidance and a formula for determining alimony in each of the cases before them.

This legislation also identifies different types of alimony: General term alimony, rehabilitative alimony (for no more than 5 years), reimbursement alimony, and transitional alimony (for no more than 3 years)

Two important points in determining the duration of alimony are:

  1. a presumed end date for payment of alimony, which is the payor' s "full retirement age"; and there is a formula for calculating how many months a spouse may receive general alimony which is based on the length of marriage.
  2. The "length" of your marriage is determined by the number of months from the date of your legal marriage to the date of service of the divorce/separate support complaint in your case; not the date of your divorce.
  • Marriage of 5 years of less- one half the number of months of marriage;
  • Marriage of 10 years or less, but more than 5 years- 60% of the number of months of the marriage;
  • Marriage of 15 years or less, but more than 10 years-70% of the number of months of the marriage;
  • Marriage of 20 years or less, but more than 15 years-80% of the number of months of the marriage.
  • Marriages of 20 years or more- the court may order alimony for an indefinite length of time.

Once issued, general term alimony orders shall terminate upon the payor attaining the full retirement age.
However, this legislation still gives a judge discretion to set a different alimony termination date or grant an extension for good cause shown.

Two Important Points: First, this legislation allows the judge to consider the co-habitation of the alimony recipient with a person for a continuous period of at least 3 months. Second, Income and assets of a payor's current spouse shall not be considered in the determination of alimony in a modification action with a former spouse.

Other issues, such as health insurance coverage and the payment of uninsured health-related expenses, must also be addressed. Access to life and disability insurances of a party and the duration of coverage is usually part of the analysis.

Mavrides Law provides both focused consultation regarding your alimony issue, as well as full analysis of the impact of alimony on division of assets, debt and child support/related issues. Contact us to schedule an appointment.

Palimony or Non-Marital Co-Habitation:

Currently, Massachusetts courts have not recognized any duty to support an unmarried co-habitant and do not recognize common law marriages. However, Massachusetts courts have applied equitable principles to resolve property disputes between former co-habiting individuals, and it may be possible for Massachusetts to give full faith and credit to a common law marriage of another state for parties who have relocated to Massachusetts. This is a complex area of the law, and legal advice must be sought for full analysis of each case and how best to proceed.

Quincy Alimony Attorneys • Boston Alimony Attorneys

To speak with a lawyer about a divorce, alimony claim or other family law matter, contact Mavrides Law. For assistance, call 617-723-9900 or contact the firm by email.

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