Worcester Alimony Lawyer

couple sitting on a couch looking upset over alimony

Alimony exists to help former spouses maintain the lifestyles they enjoyed during marriage and to continue meeting their expenses. The laws in Massachusetts are designed to ensure that a divorce is not financially devastating to dependent spouses. At the same time, there are limits to the amount and duration of alimony that a judge can award. Whether you are the spouse who pays or receives alimony, you naturally want a fair outcome to the process and a court order that you can live with. SederLaw’s Family Law & Probate attorneys can represent you regardless of which side of the case you are on.

Different Types of Alimony

There are four different types of alimony in Massachusetts:

General term alimony. This is the most common type of alimony. It is regular support paid to an ex-spouse who is financially dependent on the former spouse. The duration of the alimony depends largely on how long the marriage lasted. Under the Alimony Reform Act, which went into effect in 2012, the following time limits apply to general term alimony:

Length of Marriage Duration of Alimony
Up to 5 yearsNo more than 1/2 the number of months of the marriage
5 to 10 yearsNo more than 60% of the number of months of the marriage
10 to 15 yearsNo more than 70% of the number of months of the marriage
15 to 20 years No more than 80% of the number of months of the marriage
20+ yearsIndefinite

In some cases, a court can decide that deviation from the above time limits is necessary in the interests of justice. Such a determination must be supported by a judge’s written findings.

Rehabilitative alimony. The purpose of this form of alimony is to support a spouse for a certain period of time until that spouse can become self-sufficient. It is paid to an ex-wife or ex-husband who, the court expects, will be financially independent by a predicted date.

Reimbursement alimony. The objective of reimbursement alimony is to compensate a spouse for making contributions to the other spouse during the marriage. These can be economic or non-economic in nature and can be paid regularly or just once. It is available for marriages of up to five years.

Transitional alimony. Lastly, transitional alimony helps an ex-spouse adjust to life after marriage. For example, it can assist the former spouse to settle into a new location following the divorce. It is also only available for marriages of up to five years.

Factors Used in Awarding Alimony

To determine the form, amount, and duration of alimony, Massachusetts courts will consider several factors, such as:

  • The length of the marriage
  • The age of the spouses
  • The health of the spouses
  • Both spouses’ income, employment, and employability, including employability through additional training (if needed)
  • The economic and non-economic contribution of both spouses to the marriage
  • Both spouses’ marital lifestyles and their ability to maintain them
  • Lost economic opportunities that resulted from the marriage
  • Other factors the court considers to be relevant

In general, the amount of alimony should not exceed the recipient’s need or 30-35% of the difference between the parties’ gross incomes. However, not all sources of income are included in the alimony calculation. For example, gross income which the court has already considered for setting a child support order is excluded.

When Does Alimony End?

The termination of alimony is based mainly on the type that is awarded:

General term alimony terminates upon:

  • The remarriage of the receiving spouse
  • The death of either spouse
  • Expiration of the above-mentioned time limits
  • A finding that the recipient spouse is cohabitating (see below)
  • the paying spouse reaching full retirement age

Rehabilitative alimony terminates upon:

  • The remarriage of the receiving spouse
  • The occurrence of a specific event in the future
  • The death of either spouse
  • Five years

Reimbursement alimony terminates upon:

  • The death of either spouse
  • A date certain

Transitional alimony terminates upon:

  • The death of the receiving spouse
  • A date certain that is not longer than 3 years from the date of the divorce

How Cohabitation May Affect Alimony

General term alimony is the most frequently awarded type in Massachusetts. By law, it shall be suspended, reduced, or terminated if the receiving spouse begins cohabitating with someone. The paying spouse must be able to show that the receiving spouse has maintained a common household with another person for a continuous period of at least 3 months.

Maintaining a common household with someone means they share a primary residence together, with or without other individuals. To determine whether a spouse is maintaining a common household with someone else, and therefore cohabitating, the court can consider such factors as:

  • Statements made to third parties regarding the cohabitation
  • The economic interdependence of the cohabitating couple, or the economic dependence of one person on the other
  • Engaging in conduct and roles that further a cohabitating lifestyle
  • The benefit to either party of the cohabitation
  • Whether the individuals have a reputation of cohabitating
  • Other relevant factors

If alimony is suspended, reduced, or terminated due to cohabitation, it can be reinstated if the cohabitation ends. However, the alimony cannot extend beyond the original termination date.

Can Alimony Be Modified?

General term and rehabilitative alimony can be modified; reimbursement and transitional alimony cannot. To modify alimony, a spouse must show that a material change in circumstances has occurred since the last alimony order was entered. Factors that may support modification of alimony include:

  • Cohabitation
  • Remarriage
  • Losing a job
  • A reduction in job salary
  • In the case of rehabilitative alimony, the receiving spouse tried to become self-sufficient but was unable to do so

Contact Our Worcester Alimony Attorney

If alimony is on the table in your divorce, it’s time to retain experienced legal counsel. Whether you are the spouse seeking alimony or the one from whom it is sought, SederLaw is ready to represent you. We can handle all aspects of alimony, from establishing it to terminating and modifying it. Connect with our Family Law and Probate team today.

SederLaw helps clients with alimony legal matters in Worcester from their primary office as well as clients throughout MetroWest from their Westborough office.

Practicing Attorneys