If you are divorcing in Massachusetts and either plan to request alimony or believe that your spouse is going to do so, you may have questions about how the courts determine whether to award spousal support and how they decide on the amounts and length of time one spouse must pay it.

While every divorce is different, there are some primary factors you can anticipate the court to consider when deciding whether you will ultimately receive, or have to pay, alimony. These factors typically include:

The length of your marriage

For the most part, your chances of securing spousal support, or having to pay child support, increase alongside the length of your marriage. If you were married for 20, 30, 40 years or more, you will be more likely to receive, or have to pay, alimony than you would having only been married for a few years.


Massachusetts courts will also typically consider whether one partner in the marriage sacrificed his or her own career or education in favor of supporting the other spouse in educational or professional endeavors. If so, or if one party in the marriage has reached an age where finding gainful employment might prove unlikely, courts may be more likely to award spousal support.

Marital lifestyle

Typically, a Massachusetts court will also consider the type of lifestyle to which you and your spouse were accustomed during the course of your marriage when deciding whether to award alimony, and if so, for how long. In most cases, the goal is to allow each party in the marriage to maintain a lifestyle after the marriage that is similar to the one he or she had while married.

These are just some of the many factors courts may review when making determinations about alimony. Decisions about whether to award alimony, and if so, how much and for how long, are made on a case-by-case basis.