One of the most important parts of the divorce process is determining alimony, also known as spousal support and maintenance. There are four types of alimony in Massachusetts: general term alimony, rehabilitative alimony, transitional alimony, and reimbursement alimony. The court will determine how alimony is awarded based on the length of the marriage, the earning capabilities of each spouse, the contributions each spouse mad toward martial property, and the specific circumstances of the divorce.
General Term Alimony
This type of support is regularly paid to the spouse who financially depends on the other. How long this type of alimony lasts depends on the length of the marriage.
For example, if your marriage lasts five years or less, alimony payments cannot last more than 50 percent of the number of months the marriage lasted.
- This means if you were married for 48 months (four years), the judge will order you pay or receive spousal support for a maximum 24 months (two years).
- If your marriage lasts a decade or less, alimony payments cannot last more than 60 percent of the number of months the marriage lasted.
- If your marriage lasts 15 years or less, alimony payments cannot last more than 70 percent. If your marriage lasts 20 years or less, alimony payments cannot last more than 80 percent.
- If the marriage lasts over 20 years, the judge can order alimony for as long as the court believes is fair.
This type of alimony is regularly paid to the recipient spouse until he/she can support himself/herself. The money is spent to pursue education or vocational training in order to become self-supporting.
This type of alimony is either paid in one lump sum or regularly after a marriage of no more than five years to reimburse what the ex-spouse paid to help the paying spouse, such as providing money to help the spouse finish college or job training.
This type of alimony is also either paid in one lump sum or regularly—if the marriage lasted five years or less—to help the receiving spouse adjust to his/her new lifestyle or living situation. Transitional alimony is only temporary.
Alimony typically stops if one of the following occurs:
- One of the spouses passes away
- The receiving spouse remarries or cohabitates with a new romantic partner
- The paying spouse reaches “full retirement age”
Calculating Income for Alimony
When the courts are evaluating the alimony orders and the amount to be paid, a judge will be looking at factors such as:
- Gross income for a previous court order, such as a child support order
- Dividend, interest, and capital gains from assets that are equally divided between the married couple