Massachusetts General Law Chapter 208, Section 48 defines alimony as the payment of support from a spouse, who has the ability to pay, to a spouse in need of support, for a reasonable length of time, under a court order.
That single sentence squeezes the necessary elements for the establishment of alimony in divorce cases in Massachusetts into a dense little package.
In most cases, General Term Alimony, pursuant to Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 208, Section 49, lasts (i) not longer than 1/2 the number of months of the marriage, if the parties have been married for 5 years or fewer, (ii) not longer than 60% of the number of months of the marriage for parties who have been married over 5 years but not more than 10 years, (iii) not longer than 70% of the number of months of the marriage for parties who have been married over 10 years but not more than 15 years, and (iv) not longer than 80% of the number of months of the marriage for parties who have been married over 15 years and married for 20 years, or fewer.
Alimony may be indefinite for marriages where the parties have been married for over 20 years.
The Probate and Family Court may deviate from statutory time limits in certain circumstances and where the court finds that “the interests of justice” so require; but, if the length of the marriage is fewer than 20 years, alimony is supposed to terminate on a date certain.
Retirement, cohabitation, remarriage of a spouse and other factors may impact the continuation of alimony.
There are also tax implications regarding both the receipt and payment of alimony.
If you have a family law matter that involves the issue of alimony, please feel free to contact me for a consultation.
John G. DiPiano, Esquire