When couples get divorced, one or both spouses may believe they are entitled to alimony payments, which are also known as “spousal support” payments. Oftentimes, alongside child custody and child support, spousal support payments are among the most contested divorce issues. Generally, one party will believe they deserve more support than the other party is willing to give. The most significant factor in determining alimony payments is the duration of the marriage. If you find yourself in this situation, here are some of the questions you may have:
Are there different types of alimony?
There are four primary types of alimony available to people in Massachusetts. They are as follows:
- General term alimony: This is a regular payment from one spouse to another for a determinate period. The length of the marriage will determine the support obligation, though other factors may be considered as well.
- Transitional alimony: A support obligation that helps a person settle into their new life. It can be a regular payment or lump sum and only applies to marriages that lasted less than 5 years.
- Rehabilitative alimony: This is a regular payment for a short period of time to help the dependent party become financially stable.
- Reimbursement alimony: This is support that can be paid regularly or as a one-time payment after marriage to reimburse one party for the cost of supporting the other while he or she pursued education or job training.
How long may an ex-spouse have to make alimony payments?
- Marriages lasting less than 5 years: Alimony cannot be required for more than 50% of the duration of the marriage.
- Marriages lasting less than 10 years: Alimony cannot be required for more than 60% of the duration of the marriage.
- Marriages lasting less than 15 years: Alimony cannot be required for more than 70% of the duration of the marriage.
- Marriages lasting less than 20 years: Alimony cannot be required for more than 80% of the duration of the marriage.
- Marriages greater than 20 years: The court will determine a fair and just obligation at the discretion of the judge.
Why may my alimony payments get discontinued?
Generally, alimony may only be stopped in the event of a death, remarriage (or cohabitation of the dependent spouse), or the party has reached “full retirement age,” unless a court decides otherwise.
Why would a judge consider extending alimony payments?
A judge may extend alimony if there is evidence for an extension that is clear and convincing, or if a significant change in circumstances occurs. However, if you are receiving support and need to extend the obligation, you may file a Complaint for Modification. From there, the judge must decide whether you are entitled to a modification of your alimony terms.
Contact our Massachusetts firm
If you require compassionate and knowledgeable legal guidance for a matter of divorce, family or estate law, please contact the experienced attorneys at the Law Offices of Cynthia L. Hanley today. Our firm proudly serves clients in Mansfield, Massachusetts and throughout Bristol County.