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What factors do courts consider when determining alimony?

If you are divorcing in Massachusetts, you could very well be expecting to receive or pay some amount of spousal support, or alimony. However, it is important to understand that there is no guarantee that the courts will award alimony in any individual case. And while spousal support is not reserved for only affluent or high-profile couples, people don't always wind up with an order for alimony.

When assessing a request for alimony, the courts are required to take into consideration several specific, unique factors for the case at hand.

As noted in Massachusetts alimony laws, courts will first examine:

  • The length of your marriage
  • Each person's occupation and earning potential
  • Reason for the divorce
  • Conduct of each person during the marriage
  • Each spouse's contribution to the marriage (economic and non-economic)
  • Ages
  • Health needs
  • Individual financial liabilities after the divorce
  • Needs of the children and custody arrangements

Based on these and other factors, the courts will make a ruling about whether to award alimony to one spouse or not. In some cases, alimony won't be awarded, but the divorce settlement can be adjusted to give more property or money to one person.

If the idea of leaving alimony determinations in the hands of the court makes you uneasy, you can take steps to address the matter outside of the courtroom. In order to do this, you can discuss alimony prior to getting married in your prenuptial agreement; you could also discuss the issue with your soon-to-be ex in mediation to try and come to an agreement yourselves.

No matter how or when alimony is discussed, it can be crucial that you have an attorney by your side. Legal representation can help you assert your rights and protect yourself in any situation from mediation to litigation where you are you navigating family legal matters.

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