One of the primary functions of the 2011 Alimony Reform Act was to set guidelines for the length of alimony awards in Massachusetts. The length of the award is now tied to the length of the marriage. The chart below lists the presumptive durational limits for alimony awards based on the length of the marriage.
- Married 0 to 5 years 50% of the length of the marriage
- Married 6 to 10 years 60% of the length of the marriage
- Married 11 to 15 years 70% of the length of the marriage
- Married 16 to 20 years 80% of the length of the marriage
- Married 20 years or more Indefinite term of alimony
These guidelines are not, however, set in stone. They are only a presumption that can be set aside when appropriate. The appropriate circumstances are defined by the court as when it is “in the interest of justice.” This is a rather vague term, but the court looks to the factors listed below to determine if deviation is appropriate.
- Age, illness and health;
- Tax considerations;
- The cost and availability of health insurance;
- Cost of life insurance;
- Sources and amounts of income from assets not already divided during the divorce;
- A party’s inability to provide for their own support because of mental or physical abuse from the abuser;
- A party’s inability to provide for their own support for other reasons, including a lack of employment opportunities; and
- Any other reason the court finds relevant and material.
The person seeking to continue alimony past the presumptive guidelines is the one who bears the burden of showing the court that the above factors apply to their circumstances. Unless there is a continuing disability or chronic illness that existed at the time of the divorce the court is required to look at the circumstances only at the time the request for continued alimony is made. This essentially means that there will need to be a change in circumstances that has arisen since the date of divorce to justify a continued payment of alimony past the durational limits listed above.
Do you have questions about Alimony in Massachusetts? Please contact us as you may need to hire a Massachusetts divorce attorney that understands Alimony. We can serve as your divorce attorney to make sure you are fairly treated in your divorce. Whatever your needs, we can help you.
If you are in the process of trying to determine what your rights may be if your marriage ends in divorce call us at (978) 341-5040 for a consultation today.