When the judge orders a divorce, it is possible that he will order one of the spouses to make temporary spousal support or alimony payments. Alimony is financial assistance provided from one spouse to the other after the end of the marriage. This is separate from any child support payments that must be made due to child custody. Instead, alimony is designed to preserve the economic situation of the spouses as it existed during the marriage.

How Do You Qualify for Alimony? 

Whether alimony is awarded to either spouse at the end of a divorce proceeding is decided by the judge according to what is fair under the circumstances. In Massachusetts, there are 4 types of alimony:

  • General Term Alimony: General term alimony can be received by a spouse with substantially less income potential than the other spouse. However, general term alimony is usually only awarded in marriages of at least 10 years.
  • Transitional Alimony: A spouse can qualify for transitional support if they can show the court that they have a short-term financial need after the marriage. This kind of support is usually awarded to pay for education or training so the spouse can get a new or better job.
  • Rehabilitative Alimony: support paid to an ex-spouse who is expected to be able to support themselves by a predicted time
  • Reimbursement Alimony: Reimbursement support is only awarded if there are exceptional circumstances that lead the judge to believe that the current division of assets is unfair. Often reimbursement support may be given if one spouse misused money during the marriage or if one spouse paid for the other spouse’s education or job training.

How Much Alimony Can You Receive? 

In calculating the total support award, there is no set formula or limit.  Unless agreed to by the parties, the judge will decide how much alimony should be paid according to several factors including the length of the marriage, the ability of each party to pay, and the health and age of each spouse.  While every case is different, alimony awards in the United States can be quite high with some awards exceeding 1.3 million.

How Long Does Alimony Last? 

Usually, alimony is awarded as either a lump sum or a temporary set of payments.  However, the court may award permanent alimony payments if one spouse will not be able support themselves due to their age, illness, or disability. Although, even permanent alimony will end if either spouse dies, or if the spouse receiving payments remarries or enters a relationship that is the equivalent of marriage.

How Do You Petition for Alimony? 

In Massachusetts, you must ask for alimony at the very beginning of the divorce proceeding in the Complaint for Divorce or the Counterclaim for Divorce if the other spouse initially filed the divorce packet.  If you fail to request alimony at first, you may be able to ask for it later by asking the court to allow you to amend the Complaint or Counterclaim. In the request, you should also list why you qualify for alimony.  After a spouse asks the court for alimony, both spouses will be required to submit to the court Financial Statements. This document must include a complete report of your financial situation including real estate, income statements, life insurance information, bank statements, household expenses, etc. It is important that the Financial Statement be complete and accurate and should be reviewed by an attorney.

Where Can You Find the Right Lawyer? 

Divorce actions tend to be some of the most contentious legal cases and alimony awards can be quite significant. It is important to have a skilled attorney to advocate for you in this process. If you are looking for an attorney to help you with your alimony related issues, then contact a local Massachusetts family lawyer today.