Alimony is a prevalent issue in most divorce cases. The Alimony Reform Act of 2011, which became effective March 1, 2012, changed how alimony is treated in the Commonwealth. The new law created four different categories of alimony: general term, rehabilitative, reimbursement, and transitional alimony. Each type of alimony has separate terms and conditions.
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Please note that the following is by no means an exhaustive list of the terms and conditions but a brief summary.
- General term alimony is spousal support to an economically dependent recipient spouse paid periodically over a term determined by the length of the marriage.
- Rehabilitative alimony is spousal support payments made periodically for a limited period while the recipient spouse works to become financially independent. The amount of time these payments last is predetermined by the court, with a maximum length of five years.
- Reimbursement alimony is spousal support paid one time or periodically for a short term intended to compensate the receiving spouse for their financial contribution to the payer over the course of a marriage that lasted less than five years.
- Transitional alimony is spousal support paid one time, or periodically for a short term, intended to help the receiving spouse transition to an adjusted lifestyle or new location after the termination of a marriage that lasted fewer than five years.
What Factors Will Massachusetts Courts Consider?
The court must determine which type of alimony is appropriate, the amount to be awarded, and the duration of time the award will last. The court also looks at various factors in determining the amount of alimony, including, but not limited to:
- Age of both parties
- The health of both parties
- Employment and/or ability to find a job
- Contributions made by both parties to the marriage
- Marital lifestyle and each party’s ability to maintain it
Alimony is not guaranteed under the statute but rather is based on the need of the recipient and the ability of the payer to pay. At Sweeney & Associates, LLC our attorneys discuss with our clients what an appropriate alimony award would be based on the factors set out in the statute in conjunction with the facts of each case.