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What judges consider regarding alimony

If you've asked for alimony in your divorce filing or filed a Complaint for Alimony after the fact, you're probably wondering how much you can get and how a judge determines what should be paid out. Every situation is a bit different -- there is no strict law saying a set level of alimony must be paid -- so the judge has to look at a variety of factors and make a specific ruling in every case. Some of these factors include the following:

-- How long you and your spouse were married before getting divorced.-- How old you are and how old your spouse is; this is important when determining if you can still enter the workforce and earn money yourself.-- Your overall health and the health of your spouse.-- The contributions you both made to the marriage, both economic and non-economic.-- Any economic opportunities that one of you gave up when getting married.-- Your current income levels.-- Your employment situation and your ability to be employed going forward.-- What each of you needs to keep the same standard of living.

Essentially, the court is just trying to figure out what it will take for both of you to keep living the way you were before the split. If you quit your job 20 years ago and have little hope of gainful employment, for example, because you thought your spouse would be there to support you, the court wants to provide some support even though you're divorcing, as you can't take that decision back.

Be sure you know what factors the court is going to consider most strongly in Massachusetts and what documentation you need to provide.

Source: Massachusetts Court System, "The Alimony Process," accessed June 24, 2016

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