Alimony in Massachusetts is not guaranteed to anyone. By statute, alimony (which is also known as “spousal support”) is a needs-based payment or schedule of payments to aid in the support of a spouse which is Court-ordered to be paid to one spouse by the other. The amount and duration of alimony is governed by G.L. c. 208 §34, 48-55, which will take into account the number of years the parties were married, and their respective incomes (not including income that is utilized to determine child support).
In determining whether to assign alimony, the court will also consider the conduct of the parties during the marriage, the age, health, station, occupation, amount and sources of the parties’ income, as well as each party’s skills and employability, and each party’s ability to acquire assets and income. Whether you will be paying or receiving alimony in Massachusetts, the experienced family lawyers at Mason & Nasios in Brockton will help to ensure that your payments are fair.
Paying and Receiving Alimony in Massachusetts
There are important tax consequences inherent in alimony orders. Effective January 1, 2019, all new orders for spousal support (or prior orders modified after that date) will be impacted by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), which determined payments of alimony are no longer tax deductible to the payor, nor are they taxable to the recipient as income for federal income tax purposes.
There are important lifestyle consequences inherent in alimony orders. Recipients who contemplate remarriage or cohabitation with a new partner will lose eligibility for alimony upon remarriage or cohabitation. General Term Alimony will typically end at the payor’s full retirement age.
How is Alimony in Massachusetts Calculated?
The Court will consider the length of the parties’ marriage as a first step and assess the needs of the recipient spouse as well as the payor spouse’s ability to pay. This assessment necessarily includes consideration of the parties’ health, ages and lifestyles. An alimony order will be not more than 30%-35% of the difference between each spouse’s gross income and may be time limited, depending upon the length of the marriage.
How Long Can Alimony Payments Continue?
Pursuant to G.L. c. 208 §49, in a marriage of less than five years (from date of marriage to the date of service with a Divorce Complaint), alimony duration cannot exceed fifty per cent (50%) of the number of months of the marriage. In a marriage of less than ten years, alimony duration cannot exceed sixty per cent (60%) of the number of months of the marriage. In a marriage of less than fifteen years, alimony duration cannot exceed seventy per cent (70%) of the number of months of the marriage. In a marriage of less than twenty years, alimony duration cannot exceed eighty per cent (80%) of the number of months of the marriage. Finally, in a marriage of more than twenty years, alimony duration can be for as long as the court determines is reasonable given all of the circumstances, and with narrow exception, up to the date of full retirement age of the payor.
While durational limits are the norm, a recipient spouse may petition a court for extension of alimony beyond the durational limits under extraordinary circumstances where the court believes deviation is necessary.
What is a Lump-Sum Alimony Settlement?
There are circumstances when it is appropriate and preferable for one spouse to “buy out” alimony in Massachusetts, which will essentially mean that there are sufficient assets for one party to give the other a lump sum alimony payment of cash or assets – a disproportionate share of the marital estate, essentially – in lieu of a future promise of alimony payments. For example, rather than leave the question of future alimony open, one spouse may wish to receive a larger share of the assets at the time of the divorce. The benefits to a recipient spouse of taking a lump-sum alimony payment might include freedom to remarry and freedom from having to return to court to have to demonstrate need.
There are benefits to a payor in making a lump-sum payment of spousal support, too – including having peace of mind without having to worry that your former spouse will bring you back to court to renegotiate the duration of amount of alimony in Massachusetts.
Contact the Trusted Brockton Family Lawyers at Mason & Nasios Today
If you are going through divorce in Massachusetts and need help resolving your alimony dispute, the alimony lawyers at Mason & Nasios are at your service. We understand that divorce can have a huge impact on your finances, and we take a client-centered approach to each case to ensure that whether you will be paying or receiving alimony, the outcome is fair.
For help settling issues related to alimony in Massachusetts – or any other family law issues, such as property division, child support, child custody, paternity, and adoption – contact the experienced Plymouth County divorce lawyers at Mason & Nasios today. Our offices are located in Brockton and Falmouth, and we service clients throughout Southeastern Massachusetts.