Spousal support, also known as alimony, is court-ordered financial support paid by one spouse to the other after a divorce. It is a contentious issue, sometimes even more so than child custody or asset division.
Massachusetts has four kinds of alimony, and the amount of support awarded depends on a number of factors. Either party can ask for alimony, but if awarded, the spouse who has the lower-income is usually the person who receives it.
Types of Alimony
Rehabilitative Alimony – The court awards this kind of alimony to help a spouse become financially independent. It might pay for more education or training and cannot last more than five years.
Reimbursement Alimony – A judge orders this type of alimony as reimbursement to a spouse who supported the other while he or she was getting an education or job training during the marriage. This compensation might come over a number of months or in one lump sum.
Transitional Alimony – The court grants this kind of alimony if the marriage lasted less than five years. It is meant to assist a spouse with transitioning to a new home or new way of life.
General Alimony – If a judge awards this type of alimony, then he bases it on the marriage length. Specific guidelines are in place to determine duration of the support.
For example, if the marriage lasted five years or fewer, then the general alimony cannot last longer than 50% of the length of the marriage. So if a couple was married four years, then the alimony could last up to two years. The longer the marriage, the higher the percentage of alimony. For a marriage that lasted 20 years or longer, the court can award support for an indefinite period of time. In any case, typically the alimony will end when the paying spouse reaches full retirement age.
When deciding how much alimony to award, the court considers each party’s income, employment opportunities, current liabilities, age, health and other factors. The amount usually does not exceed what the receiving spouse actually needs or a specific percentage of the paying party’s income.
If you have questions about spousal support, call our office and speak with a family law attorney today.