When your marriage is ending, money becomes a very big issue. It takes money to start over and money to live – and there seldom seems to be enough to go around.
Money becomes an even bigger issue, however, when one spouse is less economically stable or affluent than the other. When financial disparities exist between spouses, it’s not unusual for the subject of alimony to come up. Learning more about how alimony works in Massachusetts can help you plan ahead.
Alimony is not automatic
Long gone are the days when alimony was more or less automatically given to a financially dependent spouse. These days, the court considers a variety of factors as they decide whether to award alimony, how much it should be and how long it should last. These include:
- The duration of the marriage: A dependent spouse can request alimony no matter the length of the marriage, but the law in this state restricts the length of time that alimony can last in relation to the length of the marriage.
- The age and health of both parties: Disabilities and retirement can limit a party’s ability to pay alimony – and limit the other’s ability to become self-sufficient.
- The employability and income of each party: A dependent spouse’s willful unemployment will not be rewarded with alimony, but the court may grant support while they obtain any necessary education or training to obtain work.
- Each party’s contributions to the marriage: It’s important to note that the court will look at both economic and non-economic contributions, such as a dependent spouse’s duties as a homemaker.
- Any lost opportunities suffered by the dependent spouse: If one spouse gave up their career to support the other’s or abandoned their job to stay home with the kids, the court may look at how much they may have lost, economically, in the process.
- The standard of living enjoyed in the marriage: Your way of life can also play into the evaluation process, with the court aiming to leave both spouses in a similar position.
Finally, the court is ultimately free to factor in virtually anything that seems relevant – which is why alimony is often a hard-fought issue that requires a lot of legal guidance for good results.