It is common for spouses to claim alimony in Massachusetts after a divorce. This can be beneficial if you have been unemployed for many years or relied on your partner financially. But, you must be aware of what the law says in Massachusetts to know whether you can make a claim.
So, let’s examine what Massachusetts says about spousal support.
What Is Spousal Support Massachusetts?
Spousal support or alimony is a monetary payment made between one spouse to another during or after a divorce. It is decided by court, and it becomes a legal obligation.
The introduction of spousal support was to help with traditional marriages when they break down. In a relationship, there is often a person that would go out to work while the other spouse would work at home and take care of the children. This situation meant that when there was a divorce, the stay-at-home spouse was disadvantaged and not financially independent.
So, this is where alimony comes into play. When there is one spouse going to suffer financially due to the divorce, the court can introduce alimony to help them get on their feet and be self-sufficient.
The Types of Spousal Support in Massachusetts
There are several types of alimony available in Massachusetts, which allows all parties to receive a fair and just decision from the court. Namely, there are four spousal support orders you should be aware of.
We are talking about:
- General term
- Transitional Support
First of all, there is the general term alimony. This is when the spouse with the higher paying salary gives spousal support to the lower-paying or unemployed partner. A judge will think that this is the appropriate order if the lower-paying spouse needs financial support during or after a divorce. The length of the marriage plays a big factor in how much is paid, as well as how long the payments will last.
Then there is reimbursement alimony. This will be appropriate if one spouse has helped the other during their marriage. Normally, this is for educational purposes or their career. Thus, after the divorce, reimbursement alimony will mean that the recipient will pay back their spouse. The duration of this alimony will be less than five years.
Rehabilitative alimony is a temporary measure to allow the other spouse to become financially self-sufficient. Thus, it will not last forever and will be used to get the other person on their own two feet.
Last but not least, there is transitional spousal support. This is going to be a lump-sum payment, and it can help a person be independent after a divorce. It is an option where the marriage did not last more than five years.
Can a Husband Receive Alimony in Massachusetts?
Yes, a husband can receive spousal support during or after a divorce. People assume that it is only females and wives that can receive alimony. Perhaps this seemed like the case many years ago when it was common for women to take care of the kids and look after the house.
But, the view that men cannot receive alimony is simply not true. Indeed, it is often wives that choose to stay at home and raise the children even to this day. However, husbands can also receive alimony if they are lower paid and are at a disadvantage after the divorce. The judge will focus on the need for financial support and less on what gender the person is receiving the money.
What Factors Will a Judge Look at When It Comes To Awarding Alimony?
The judge is going to consider each case different. But, there are going to be a number of factors that are commonly looked at to decide whether spousal support is appropriate and how much should be given to the recipient.
For example, the length of the marriage can play a part in the judge’s decision. They can also take into account the age and health of the couple and their income.
Their future employability is important, as well as their contributions to the marriage. Even the lifestyle and the standard of living will matter.
Altogether, the judge will use this information to make their decision. They will also ensure that the award is fair and just for the situation.
Are There Any Limits on Spousal Support in Massachusetts?
There is no formulae when it comes to deciding on alimony in Massachusetts. Judges have a lot of freedom to decide the right award in each case. But, there is a general rule that may be viewed as a limitation.
The amount of alimony that a person receives from their spouse should only be what they need and nothing excessive. In particular, there should not be a 30 to 35 percent difference between the two people’s incomes.
Can You Receive Lifetime Alimony in Massachusetts?
Yes, you can receive spousal support for an indefinite period of time. This is something that a judge can award if they deem it to be appropriate for the case in question and suitable for the spouses. For instance, this could happen with a marriage that lasts more than 20 years, and then they choose to divorce.
It is unlikely for a recipient to receive lifetime alimony for a short marriage. Indeed, the number of years a couple has been together is an important consideration for the judge in every case. While it is possible for a judge to stray from the general rules and common outcomes, they must only do so when the circumstance calls for this, and it is going to be appropriate.
Is It Possible to Modify How Much Alimony You Pay?
Yes, you can change the amount of spousal support you pay in Massachusetts. But, there has to be a good reason to do this. Admitting that you no longer want to pay your ex-partner is not going to be an acceptable reason. There must be something substantial that has happened and made changes to your finances.
You can modify the alimony if both spouses agree. In addition, you will have to go to court for these changes to be made. The judge will decide whether the situation you decide is material enough to modify the alimony order.
The modification that is made can be permanent and a temporary measure. Again, it will depend on what the circumstances are and what will work best for the parties involved. Note that only general terms, as well as rehabilitative alimony, can change. Thus, reimbursement and transitional spousal support cannot.
How Can You End Alimony in Massachusetts?
There are several ways that spousal support is going to end in Massachusetts. Namely, this often happens because the judge creates an order that only lasts for a certain number of years. But, there are also a few events that can occur which will end alimony between two people.
For example, if the recipient of the spousal support chooses to marry a new partner, this will end the order. In this case, the new partner is going to take on the responsibility of caring for them financially. Thus, their ex-partner will no longer have to pay any spousal support to them.
Another event that will end alimony is when one of the parties dies. Of course, this is going to mean that someone cannot pay or the other cannot receive the payment. In no way does this responsibility pass to anybody else. Therefore, death is going to terminate alimony in Massachusetts.
Is Alimony in Massachusetts Tax-Deductible?
No, changes to the law mean that alimony is no longer tax-deductible in Massachusetts. This is now the case in many states since the President of the United States changed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. This meant that as of January 2019, alimony was no longer tax-deductible.
This is something that you need to know if you are going to be the one paying spousal support. You should not expect alimony to be deductible from what you earn. If you are confused about the new tax laws, it is best to speak to an experienced lawyer. They are going to know all the ins and outs of the law to help you.
What Will Happen To Alimony if the Payor Files for Bankruptcy?
Even if a person files for bankruptcy, they will still owe spousal support to their ex-partner. Remember that this is a legal obligation, and it is not something that is called a debt. Thus, it is going to remain even if there is a bankruptcy discharge.
If you get divorced in Massachusetts, you will want to learn about spousal support. This can be something that can help you get through a financially difficult time and adjustment period in your life.
Let’s summarize the Massachusetts alimony law:
- Spousal support is a helpful financial payment that a spouse can receive during or after a divorce
- It was initially for traditional marriages and women who did not work and took care of the children
- Now, alimony laws in Massachusetts mean that men and women can enjoy spousal support payments
- There are four types of alimony to be aware of in Massachusetts: general term, rehabilitative, reimbursement, and transitional support
- During a divorce in Massachusetts, a judge will look at a lot of factors before they award alimony
- The length of marriage can be important, and a judge will look at the spouses and their income
- Other important factors in decisions include employability, marriage contributions, standard of living and lifestyle
- Judges have a lot of freedom to decide on the right spousal support in Massachusetts
- Lifetime alimony does exist in Massachusetts alimony statute law, but it is unlikely to be given for short marriages that are under 20 years in length
- The modification of spousal support over time is possible, and it can be made by a judge
- It is possible for alimony to end in Massachusetts under certain circumstances, which includes the recipient finding a new partner or one of the party’s dying
- The laws in the state have changed and spousal support is no longer tax-deductible due to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act 2017
- Even if the payor files for bankruptcy, this is not going to terminate their responsibility and legal obligation to pay spousal support after a divorce
Everyone will have the opportunity to ask the judge for alimony during and after a divorce. It is not gender-specific, and it has the purpose of helping someone financially after relying on their partner during the marriage.
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