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What you should know about lifetime alimony

On Behalf of | Dec 9, 2022 | Family Law

No divorce is without its complications and challenges, especially when it comes to dividing marital assets and ensuring both spouses receive adequate financial support to start again.

Some states allow for alimony payments, sometimes called spousal support or maintenance. In Massachusetts, these payments can last a lifetime. This is what you should know about lifetime alimony.

How courts calculate alimony

According to Massachusetts law, spousal support should not exceed the needs of the partner that receives the payments. However, the judge should compare the gross incomes of both partners. Alimony is typically no greater than 35% of the difference between your income and your partner’s. Child support is not taken into account during this calculation.

How courts determine alimony payment length

Massachusetts law states that you may receive alimony payments for up to half the length of your marriage if it lasted five years or less. Therefore, if your marriage lasted for four years, you may receive spousal maintenance for up to two years.

This period can increase to 60% of the marriage length if your marriage lasted between 10 and 15 years, up to 70% if your marriage lasted between 10 and 15 years and 90% if your marriage lasted between 15 and 20 years. However, if your marriage lasted more than 20 years, you may receive spousal support indefinitely.

Conditions for ending lifetime alimony

A judge may modify or eliminate lifetime alimony when your former spouse dies or reaches full retirement age. In addition, if you remarry or start living with another person, the court may stop your payments.

Although the law outlines how alimony works, the judge can award what he or she believes is judicious, and you or your former spouse can request changes to the maintenance payments.

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