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Temporary Alimony not the same as Permanent Alimony

A recent Supreme Judicial Court case opined on the question of whether alimony issued pursuant to a Temporary Order of the court during the pendency of a divorce credits against the duration of alimony at the conclusion of the divorce when there is a permanent alimony order.  The answer by the SJC is “no”.

The SJC in Holmes v. Holmes made one of the first rulings on the Alimony Reform Act.  The found that the new Alimony Reform Act changed how the court decides cases on a permanent alimony basis but does not change how the courts view temporary alimony.  The authorization that is given to the court to order temporary alimony is codified in a different statute than what was changed under the Alimony Reform Act.

This ruling means that if a party is ordered to pay alimony for x number of years, and if they’ve already paid 2 years of alimony while litigating the divorce case, they do not get credit for those 2 years.  Considering how long divorce cases sometimes take, this can mean a lot of money.  The SJC however did give the trial courts some discretion in their ruling.  It also ruled that if the court finds that one party purposely prolonged the litigation process in order to get more temporary alimony, then the trial courts can take that into account.