What is Alimony?

According to mass.gov, alimony is “court-ordered support paid by one spouse to the other for a period of time after a divorce.” Alimony is paid by the spouse who is most financially able to help supplement the supporter income that the other spouse receives to help them remain financially stable.

Alimony can be ordered on a short-term or long-term basis and will be calculated differently based on the parameters of the marriage that is dissolving. Alimony is not guaranteed in every case and can vary significantly in amount based on independent circumstances.

Types of Alimony

There are several types of alimony that one can be ordered, the four main types are listed below with a summary explanation included.

General term alimony is typically ordered to provide long-term support to the spouse and is meant to help the spouse who is unable to provide sufficiently for themselves. The ordered alimony is generally expected for an indefinite amount of time, barring restrictions. Factors considered when ordering general term alimony can be the length of the marriage, how well each party can meet their financial requirements, and the financial status of both parties.

Rehabilitative alimony – some spouses require a specified time to better themselves, whether it be through training or education, and rehabilitative alimony can supplement them during this time. Rehabilitative alimony isn’t meant to be indefinite, and a set amount of time would be ordered from the beginning, providing ample time for the spouse to obtain the further education or training needed to sustain an income to support themselves. A common example is alimony while the spouse attends college.

Transitional alimony – just as it sounds, transitional alimony is meant to help one of the spouses during the transition from being part of a couple to now financially supporting themselves on their own. Typically ordered for a short period of time, from months to a small number of years, it is intended to provide enough financial support for some time for the spouse to obtain housing, establish themselves, and become financially independent.

Reimbursement alimony – this type of alimony is awarded to those that the courts deem qualified for reimbursement for their efforts or sacrifices in the marriage. Common examples of when this would apply are if one of the spouses sacrificed some or all income to stay home. At the same time, the other pursued career opportunities, or one of the partners contributed significantly to the college tuition or other training opportunities and deserved to be reimbursed for those contributions.

How Does The Length of The Marriage Play a Factor In Alimony Calculation?

Other than general term alimony, the other options typically require the courts to determine a set time or amount of alimony to be paid to the other spouse over time.

When calculating general term alimony, the judge can choose to require the party to pay indefinitely or set up a term of years or months. If they decide to calculate a set duration, they will review the length of time the couple was married.

If they were married for less than five years, alimony is typically only awarded for up to half the total months the couple was married.

If the couple was married for 5 – 10 years, typical calculations result in no more than 60% of the total number of months the couple was married.

If the marriage lasted between 10 and 15 years, no more than 70% of the total months married can be used in calculations.

For marriages of 15 to 20 years in length, the general rule is no more than 80% of the months married.

For those marriages lasting longer than 20 years, it’s pretty standard for the courts to award alimony indefinitely.

How Much Alimony Can I Expect To Pay or Be Paid?

Determining how much alimony will be awarded is based on several factors, and you should consult your experienced attorney to help you determine what is realistic.

Guidelines are in place for judges to follow. Still, external factors could change that amount, such as whether or not the parties have other financial obligations, such as child support for shared children or children from a previous marriage.

Other factors to consider are the party’s ability to increase financial income over the years or how the division of assets will affect each party moving forward following a divorce.

When Can Alimony Be Terminated?

Alimony can end should the receiving party cohabitate with another for a period of three months or longer. However, the details around this can vary based on how financially independent the new cohabitants are, what the relationship is, and if it is expected to be a permanent change. The recipient spouse’s cohabitation can mean either a reduction in alimony or the ending of the alimony order entirely.

Retirement can also play a role in the length of alimony. In many cases, once the spouse is eligible for social security, their alimony can be reduced or terminated based on their financial situation.

Call For Your Free Case Evaluation

Contact our office today at (781) 531-8673 to schedule your free case evaluation. We have worked with many couples through their divorce to ensure that though it can be frustrating at times, you can plan accordingly for a future you can feel at peace with by taking a few necessary steps.

Let us become the fierce advocate you need to protect your financial future. Together, we will formulate a strategy that provides the results you deserve and peace of mind for your future.