Divorce in Massachusetts: Alimony

Last March (2012) the new alimony reform laws went into effect regarding divorce in Massachusetts. But before we get into that, lets discuss some alimony basics.

What is alimony? Alimony is money one spouse is ordered to pay the other spouse during the divorce process and/or after a divorce is finalized.

What Statute Governs Alimony? Alimony is governed by Mass. General Laws c. 208, §34. Read the law here: http://www.malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartII/TitleIII/Chapter208/Section34

What is the point of Alimony? Alimony is usually given to the spouse who, during the marriage, was dependent on the other spouse for financial support so that he/she can be left in a comparable situation to that which he/she was in during the marriage.

Is Alimony Always Awarded? No, not at all. There are a lot of factors the court uses to determine whether alimony is appropriate in cases of divorce in Massachusetts. Some of those factors include, but are not limited to: the length of the marriage, age and health of the parties, parties’ occupation, parties’ sources of income, and vocational and educational skills.

As previously mentioned, the alimony laws regarding divorce in Massachusetts have changed in the last year and have been “reformed”. The reason for the change in the law was many thought that alimony payers were getting the short end of the stick, they felt they were paying too much money and for too long of a time period. Furthermore, recipients of alimony were still receiving alimony after they began cohabitating with someone else or remarrying. Now alimony ends (at the latest) at the payer’s retirement age, and further, alimony payments can be terminated if the recipient of alimony cohabitates with someone for 3 months or more.

If you are currently paying alimony and you believe that you should no longer have to under the new laws then you may be able to modify your alimony payments through the court. If you are in this situation then the first thing you should do is have a family law attorney review your separation agreement to see if a modification of alimony is the appropriate course of action.


A Tax Guide to Alimony: http://www.mass.gov/dor/individuals/filing-and-payment-information/guide-to-personal-income-tax/deductions/alimony.html

Alimony and Child Support Distinguished: http://www.mass.gov/dor/businesses/help-and-resources/legal-library/letter-rulings/letter-rulings-by-years/1985-1989-rulings/letter-ruling-85-38-alimony-and-child.html

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