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Divorcing? What you need to know about Massachusetts alimony laws

In recent years, numerous states have considered and passed measures to update alimony laws to better reflect the reality of today's divorces. While decades ago, many women did not work outside the home and therefore relied on their husbands’ income, these days, it is more common for both spouses to earn incomes.

In 2011, the Massachusetts’ legislature passed the Alimony Reform Act, a bill aimed to update what many considered to be outdated guidelines related to the terms and amounts of alimony granted to divorcees within the state. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about the laws regarding alimony in Massachusetts. 

Question: What is alimony? 

Answer: When a couple gets divorced, a judge may order one spouse to pay the other financial assistance to help support him or her after the marriage is over. Child support is not included in alimony.

Question: How does a judge determine whether alimony is owed?

Answer: According to MassLegalHelp.org, the judge considers many factors. One part is how long the marriage lasted. If the marriage was less than 20 years, the duration of time that the payor is sending money to the recipient can vary. The length of time that alimony is ordered to be paid depends on what type of alimony is involved in the divorce. Other factors include age and wealth of the spouse and whether a spouse has the ability to get a job.

Question: What are the different types of alimony?

Answer: The four types of alimony are: general term, rehabilitative, reimbursement and transitional. Each has varying regulations depending on how long the marriage lasted. They also differ in other ways, including the duration of the alimony payments and how alimony is calculated.

If you are getting divorced and want to find out more about how alimony is awarded and calculated, it's a good idea to speak to a qualified divorce attorney who can work to ensure that your rights are protected under the law. 

Source: MassLegalHelp.org, "Alimony - the basics," Jeffrey L. Wolff, June 2, 2014


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