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Understanding Alimony in Massachusetts

Alimony (also commonly referred to as spousal support) is often a key component of the divorce process. Whether you're paying or requesting spousal support, receiving a favorable alimony judgment can mean the difference between financial insecurity and stability.

During a divorce, courts try to ensure that each party maintains the same standard of living post-divorce that was established during the marriage. Alimony arrangements often play a crucial role in achieving that objective.

However, understanding just how alimony works in Massachusetts can be difficult. Our family lawyers at the Ostendorf Law Group, PLLC, have extensive experience helping clients understand Massachusetts alimony laws and tackle alimony cases.

Receive the high-quality legal counsel you deserve. To arrange a free consultation with one of our Mansfield spousal support attorneys, fill out our contact form online or give us a call at (508) 593-1408.

How Is Alimony Determined in Massachusetts?

As we mentioned earlier, divorce courts try and facilitate a divorce decree that ensures both spouses maintain a good quality of life post-divorce. To that effect, courts consider the following factors when determining alimony:

  • The age and health of each spouse. If one spouse is ill or of a certain age, they may have difficulty finding work or obtaining a decent income post-divorce. Alimony arrangements can help alleviate financial pressures in such situations.
  • How long the marriage lasted. As a general rule of thumb, longer marriages result in more substantial alimony arrangements. For example, in a marriage that lasts less than five years, alimony can't be paid for more than 2.5 years. However, in a marriage that lasts 20 years or more, alimony payments can endure for the remainder of each party's life.
  • The employability and income of each spouse. Frequently, individuals find themselves re-entering the workforce post-divorce. Whether or not an individual can re-enter the workforce quickly—and what their projected income will be—both play a role in determining alimony. It's also important to note that employability evaluations take into account how employable an individual would be with extra training for their profession.
  • The lifestyle established in the marriage pre-divorce. Most courts will establish how each spouse lived during their marriage to get an idea of their standard of living, and then try and make sure both spouses can maintain that same standard of living post-divorce.
  • How much each spouse contributed to the marriage economically. As you may have noticed, many alimony provisions exist to support an ex who may lack employment or makes less than their partner. To make alimony arrangements equitable for high-earning individuals, courts consider how much each spouse contributed economically to the marriage during alimony cases. If one spouse paid for the lion's share of expenses during the marriage, they may receive a less severe alimony judgment.
  • Whether or not a spouse lost economic opportunities during the marriage. For example, if one spouse supported their partner while they went to graduate school (resulting in fewer funds for the payor), the supporting spouse may not have to pay as much in alimony.
  • Any other factors the court considers relevant. Courts also take other factors, such as whether a spouse is expecting to move or if a spouse is already paying for child support, into alimony decisions.

Is Spousal Support A Reasonable Expectation In Your Divorce?

The factors we listed above that courts consider during alimony cases all play a role in determining whether or not you should expect to pay or receive alimony post-divorce. Let's go over a few examples of how those factors often come up during alimony cases:

  • A wife who supported her husband while he was receiving professional development training may believe that she should be entitled to a portion of the benefits of that higher education.
  • A husband who expected his wife to be a "homemaker" and "stay-at-home mother" may need to acknowledge that her earning capacity is low because she has not developed a career outside the home.
  • A spouse (husband or wife) who is disabled will most likely be unable to support himself or herself without help from the wage-earning spouse.
  • A long-term marriage where one spouse worked and the other stayed home is more likely to be one where spousal support is called for.

In addition to alimony, marital asset division (also called property division) often plays a role in alimony. For example, if a spouse requests alimony but also keeps the marital house, they may receive less alimony overall because they also retained a valuable asset as part of the divorce decree.

Need Help with Your Spousal Support Case? Let Our Bristol County Attorneys Help.

Our divorce attorneys often advise our clients to consult with a tax consultant when negotiating whether spousal support will be included in a divorce or separation agreement.

No matter what side of an alimony case you're on, our experienced Bristol County family law attorneys are here to help. Our attorneys will work with you to develop a personalized legal strategy tailored to your unique situation so that you can move forward in your case with confidence.

Take the first steps towards securing your future today. Arrange a free consultation with our Mansfield alimony attorneys by contacting us online or via phone at (508) 593-1408.

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