If you are going through a divorce, you might be worried about what will happen when you are on your own. You may be concerned about whether you will be able to make enough money to support yourself, particularly if you gave up your career to support your spouse’s ambitions or were unable to obtain the education necessary to develop job skills. Alimony, or spousal support, could be a viable option to help you get by and is based on multiple factors.
Alimony is a type of financial support that the court orders a former spouse to pay to ease the transition into separate households. The payments could be awarded temporarily or permanently depending on your situation. For example, alimony is awarded more often when the spouses have been married for 10 years or longer and there is a big difference between their individual incomes.
The most common factors that Massachusetts courts consider are the length of the marriage, each of your financial needs and earnings potential, the standard of living that you became accustomed to during marriage, and the mental and physical condition and age of both parties. The court also considers the ability of your spouse to pay, whether you suffered economic loss because of your marriage and the contributions you made to your marriage, such as refraining from work to care for children or helping pay for your spouse’s education.
However, the courts could deviate from these guidelines for rehabilitative and general alimony. For example, if you are chronically ill or do not have sufficient job opportunities, the court may not strictly follow the payment amount guidelines. Investment income and other unearned income may also have an impact.
Despite Massachusetts law providing guidelines on the determination of alimony, you are not guaranteed the support. Check out our page about spousal support to find out more about the determining factors and how a lawyer could help.