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How does alimony work in MA?
Alimony in Massachusetts is guided by the Alimony Reform Act of 2011. Alimony is meant to provide spousal support to a spouse that has a need for support – of course, this is dependent on whether the payor spouse is able to pay support.
Does alimony affect child support?
Alimony in Massachusetts can be affected by, but distinct from, child support. Child support is intended to provide for the needs of minor/dependent children of a marriage post-divorce.
In Massachusetts, unless the parties involved have a household income in excess of $250,000 per year, the first $250,000 of combined income is used to calculate the amount of child support to be paid.
It is important to note the spouse receiving alimony must pay income taxes as if alimony were earned income. The payer of alimony can deduct the alimony payment from his/her gross taxable income.
How do you know if you are eligible to receive alimony in Massachusetts, or if you must pay alimony?
Whether and to what extent you are eligible to receive alimony in Massachusetts, or whether and to what extent you may be ordered to pay alimony, is guided by the Alimony Reform Act of 2011. The Act is grounded in longstanding principles of Massachusetts law, to provide support to an economically dependent spouse who is in need by a spouse who is able to pay. If your spouse is not able to provide for his or her own needs post-divorce, and you are able to pay support to help meet those needs, you may be subject to an alimony order in divorce, and vice-versa. However, if there are unemancipated children and the combined income of both parties is less than $250,000 annually, the payer may be obligated to pay only child support.
How much alimony will be awarded and how is that number configured?
The type, amount and duration of alimony awarded depends on a number of factors set forth in the Alimony Reform Act, including, without limitation:
- length of marriage
- health of the parties
- marital lifestyle; and
- employability of the parties.
There is a formula that can be used for calculating how long alimony could be paid, which depends on the number of months you were married.
The number of months is calculated from the date of marriage to the date one of the parties was served with the divorce summons.
If you were married…
- less than 5 years, alimony could be paid for 50% of the number of months;
- less than 10 years, but more than 5 years- 60% the number of months;
- less than 15 years, but more than 10 year- 70% the number of months;
- less than 20 years but more than 15 years, 80% the number of months;
- marriages in excess of 20 years could involve a payment of alimony to the payer’s full social security retirement age.
What happens to the alimony if the receiving spouse is dating or living with someone else? What happens when they get re-married?
The Alimony Reform Act provides for termination of alimony upon a number of specific events. These events may include the recipient’s remarriage or cohabitation with another. However, the payor must seek the court’s permission to terminate or reduce alimony payments due to cohabitation. Cohabitation as defined in the Act is broad enough to encompass non-traditional partnership concepts, but makes clear that the ordinary roommate relationship would not be encompassed in the definition by Act.
Can the amount of alimony be modified in the future?
Alimony in Massachusetts is modifiable where there is a change in circumstance from the circumstances at the time the alimony order was entered and as long as the parties did not enter a binding contract that prevents any modification. Additionally, alimony ordered under prior law, before enactment of the Act, may be modifiable under certain circumstances.