How are Alimony and Spousal Support Calculated?

During the divorce, the court might order one party to pay alimony (spousal support) to the other.   A judge looks at each case individually and uses a number of factors to determine if one party deserve support or not. Both men and women can request support, but it is not a guarantee for either spouse.

When considering Massachusetts family law and deciding whether to award alimony, as well as in what amount and for what duration, the court considers:

•    The marriage length
•    Each party’s behavior during the marriage
•    Each party’s age and health
•    Each party’s income and employment, including future employability
•    Each party’s financial and non-financial contributions to the marriage
•    The couple’s standard of living during the marriage
•    Any lost economic opportunities for either party during the marriage

The law states that unless a particular case has unusual circumstances, alimony should not amount to more than what the receiving spouse needs or 30% to 35% of the difference between the two parties’ gross incomes when the court issues its support ruling. An exception to this is reimbursement alimony, which one party pays to the other to equalize property division rather than as future financial support.

The length that alimony lasts depends on the marriage length.  For marriages shorter than five years, alimony cannot continue for longer than one-half the number of months of the marriage.  So if a marriage lasted four years, then alimony can only last 24 months. Similar guidelines are in place for longer marriages, increasing the number of months alimony is paid to correspond with increasing marriage length.  If a marriage lasted 20 years or more, then the alimony can last indefinitely.

Fighting for favorable alimony terms requires the services of a skilled, experienced family law attorney.  If you have questions about spousal support in Massachusetts, please call our office to speak with an experienced family law attorney.