In the state of Massachusetts, when a couple divorces and one spouse is economically reliant on the other the court may order the independent spouse to provide the reliant spouse with money to sustain him or her for a certain length of time. These periodic payments are referred to as alimony.
The court considers several factors related to the marriage when determining the form, amount and duration of alimony payments.
Some of these factors include:
- The age and health of each spouse.
- How long the couple was married.
- Each spouse’s income and employment or employability. This includes employability with additional training and diligence, when necessary.
- Marital lifestyle and the ability of each spouse to maintain that lifestyle.
- Each spouse’s economic contribution to the marriage.
- Any loss of economic opportunity due to the marriage.
- Other factors that the court decides are relevant.
Alimony Payments in Massachusetts
In general, the amount of alimony a spouse pays is not to exceed the need of the recipient; additionally, the amount is not to exceed 30 to 35 percent of the difference between the couple’s gross incomes: The gross incomes that were established when the alimony order was issued.
Various Factors Are Excluded When Calculating Income
When the court issues an alimony order, the court excludes various factors when calculating the couples’ income.
These factors include:
- Gross income that the court has previously considered when setting an order for child support.
- Dividend, interest and capital gains income deriving from assets that were equitably divided between the spouses.
Grounds for Deviation
When the court sets an initial order for alimony or modifies an existing alimony order, some circumstances may cause the court to deviate from the amount limits and duration for general term and rehabilitative alimony. It is important to note that any deviation from these limits will require written findings.
Grounds for deviation may include
Tax considerations that apply to both of the spouses; advanced age; uncommon health circumstances or chronic illness.
Any costs related to life and/or health insurance for the recipient spouse that is paid for by the spouse responsible for paying the alimony.
Interest, dividends, annuities, capital gains, any other unearned income and investment income that was not allocated when the couple divorced.
The court may decide to include a marital separation that lasted a significant amount of time or a premarital cohabitation in which an economic partnership was recognized when it determines how long the couple was married.
The inability for a spouse to provide for his or her own support due to deficiency of property, employment opportunity or maintenance. A spouse who is incapable of providing for himself or herself because of the mental or physical abuse caused by the payor.
Any other factors based upon written findings that the court considers material and relevant.
When the court determines the parties’ incomes for alimony, the court can choose to attribute income to a spouse who is underemployed or unemployed.
At Infinity Law Group, we know that the laws related to divorce, alimony and child support can be confusing. Our group of dedicated attorneys has the knowledge and experience necessary to help you through this difficult time. Please contact us today to discuss your situation.