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What to expect from an alimony agreement

Divorce agreements can be complex. Tying off loose ends at the end of a marriage leaves much for both parties to resolve before going their separate ways. Spousal support, commonly known as alimony, is among those issues.

Massachusetts is a limited duration alimony state. That means the recipient receives support payments for a duration that is based on the length of your marriage. Those who were married longer make alimony payments longer than those married for a shorter time. Here is the breakdown:

  • 0-5 years: up to 50 of the length of marriage.
  • 5-10 years: up to 60 percent of the length of the marriage.
  • 10-15 years: up to 70 percent of the length of marriage.
  • 15-20 years: up to 80 percent of the length of the marriage.
  • 20-plus years: Indefinitely.

For example, a couple married five years would have the supporting spouse making alimony payments for two and a half years at maximum. Whereas someone married for 15 years would make payments for 12 years.

However, there are exceptions to the amount and duration of alimony paid aside from ending a marriage of 20 years or more. Tax considerations, mental and physical health and insurance needs are reasons a court may issue a judgement outside of the usual amount or duration. While a court can deviate, the law restricts the amount of alimony paid to the amount of the recipient’s need or 30-40 percent of both parties’ gross income.

Alimony agreements end with the death of either spouse, with the payor’s retirement or the recipient remarries before the support period ends.

A simpler process

Being a limited duration state makes Massachusetts alimony agreements simpler since the law clearly defines the payment duration. Anyone can estimate how long they could be paying or receiving alimony based on the length of their marriage. There are other factors that can complicate figuring the amount of support the dependent spouse receives but the length of the term is clearer than in many other states. That leaves more time to resolve other key issues

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