Alimony can be one of the most contentious issues of a divorce, particularly in situations in which one or both spouses have a high net worth. In Massachusetts, there are four types of alimony. When the court makes a decision, it takes into account a number of different factors, including:
- The length of the marriage
- The earning potential of each spouse
- The reasons for the divorce
- How many children are in the household
General Term Alimony
This type of alimony is paid to ex-spouses who are unable to financially support themselves. The period of time the marriage lasted will determine the length of time the alimony will be paid. Typically, if the marriage lasted for less than five years, alimony will last no more than half of the number of months of the marriage. For marriages that last 20 years or more, the court has the authority to award alimony for whatever period it determines is reasonable.
Rehabilitative alimony is awarded with the understanding that the dependent spouse will be able support himself or herself within a given time frame. The paying ex-spouse would be required to make alimony payments while the dependent ex-spouse obtains a college degree or some other type of training in order to become financially independent.
This type of alimony may be available if a marriage lasted no more than five years and an ex-spouse – who is now financially dependent – supported the paying spouse while he or she obtained education or training. The paying spouse can be required to pay reimbursement alimony to the dependent spouse as repayment for the financial support he or she received during the marriage. The alimony can be paid in regular installments or as a one-time, lump sum payment.
Transitional alimony is meant to provide assistance to a dependent ex-spouse while he or she transitions and becomes accustomed to a different manner of living or a new place of residence due to the outcome of a divorce. This type of alimony can also be paid in regular payments or as a one-time installment.
For divorces in which considerable assets are at stake, you should have a divorce attorney who will work diligently on your behalf. Be sure to choose an attorney who will help you understand your rights and responsibilities regarding alimony and help you obtain the best possible outcome.