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alimonyAlimony in Massachusetts

Alimony is commonly a heavily contested issue in Divorces.  In 2011, Massachusetts enacted the Alimony Reform Act which drastically changed the when alimony will be paid, how much will be paid and for how long it will be paid. Still, the court has discretion in these matters and decisions are often complicated.   The Alimony Reform Act of 2011 defined four separate categories, including:

  • General Term Alimon– available to a spouse who economically dependent on the other spouse. Duration of the General Term Alimony is determined by the length of the marriage.
    • 5 years or less: 50% of the number of months of marriage;
    • 10 years or less: 60% of the number of months of the marriage;
    • 15 years or less: 70% of the number of months of the marriage;
    • 20 years or less: 80% of the number of months of the marriage;
    • Over 20 years: may order indefinite


  • Rehabilitative Alimony – granted to a spouse who is expected to become self-sufficient by a predicted time. The Duration of Rehabilitative Alimony shall not exceed 5 years.


  • Reimbursement Alimony  -is only available to spouses who have been married less than 5 years and is available to recompense for contribution to payor’s financial resources. Reimbursement Alimony could be paid in periodic increments or as a one-time payment.


  • Transitional Alimony – is also only available to spouses who have been married less than 5 years and is granted to transition recipient to adjust their lifestyle or location. This can be paid in increments or as a one-time payment.


How is Alimony Calculated?

First and foremost, alimony is based upon the financial needs of the recipient.  The discrepancy in the parties’ income is first reviewed as well as the financial conditions of the parties.  The most important factors considered by the court in determining if alimony is appropriate and, if so, how much alimony is appropriate, are the parties’ respective earnings and the length of the marriage.

How is Alimony Paid?

Unlike Child Support, Alimony is not collected by the Department of Revenue.  It is the responsibility of the payor to ensure that the payments are made as ordered.  If the paying spouse fails to make alimony payments as ordered, the recipient must file a Complaint for Contempt to enforce the Order.

Am I entitled to Alimony?

It is important to recognize that alimony will not be a factor in every divorce. It is used primarily to address a financial imbalance so that both parties are able to start their new lives while maintaining a style of living as close as possible to that which they enjoyed during their marriage. If both spouses earn similar incomes, or if the marriage was very short, it is likely that there will be no need for paying alimony.

Modification of Existing Alimony Order

Most existing Alimony orders can be modified due to a significant change of circumstances of one or both of the parties.  Under the current law, payment can be modified due to a change in employment, retirement of the payor or cohabitation of the payee with another adult who is financially contributing to the household.


Let Swanson & Moors, LLC Help You Today

If you have any family law questions, you can’t afford to pass up a free consultation with an experienced attorney.  Contact Swanson & Moors, LLC today.

Swanson & Moors, LLC services all of Plymouth County, Bristol County, Norfolk County, and Barnstable County.


New Mass. alimony law a ‘model’ — but is it working?Boston Globe


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