Types of Alimony in Massachusetts

Types of Massachusetts alimony

Divorce is a complex process, filled with emotional challenges and legal intricacies. One of the most critical aspects of this process is determining alimony or spousal support. At Sawin Law, P.C., we understand the nuances of alimony laws in Massachusetts and are committed to helping our clients explore their options and secure their financial futures.

Understanding Alimony

In Massachusetts, alimony is court-ordered payment made by one spouse to another during and after a divorce. The primary purpose of alimony is to preserve the financial stability that existed during the marriage. Alimony can be awarded to either partner, typically those with a lower or no income, to ensure continued financial stability.

Determining alimony involves several factors, including the marriage length, the spouses’ ages and health, their respective gross incomes, and their lifestyle during the marriage. Each case is unique and requires careful consideration of these factors.

The Four Types of Alimony in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, four types of alimony can be awarded, each serving a different purpose:

  1. General-Term Alimony: This is a regular payment, known as alimony or spousal support, made to a financially dependent ex-spouse following a divorce. The amount and duration of these payments depend on various factors, including the length of the marriage, the financial situation of both parties, and the specific circumstances of the divorce. In longer marriages, where financial interdependence may be more significant, courts often lean towards granting longer-term payments to ensure the financial stability of the receiving spouse.
  2. Reimbursement Alimony: This can be a one-time payment or periodic payments made to reimburse the spouse for various expenses incurred during the marriage. These expenses could encompass the spouse’s education and financial support provided when they cannot work due to personal circumstances or health issues. 
  3. Transitional Alimony: This is a one-time or periodic payment to help the receiving spouse transition into their new lifestyle or location after the divorce. These financial support payments can assist with covering expenses such as housing, utilities, transportation, and other necessary costs, ensuring a smoother adjustment and providing stability during this transitional period.
  4. Rehabilitative Alimony: This is a temporary payment, known as spousal support or alimony, made to an ex-spouse with the expectation that they will become self-supporting over time. It is typically awarded when one spouse may have sacrificed their career or education opportunities for the benefit of the marriage. It is intended to provide financial assistance during the transition to independence.

Navigating Alimony Types with Sawin Law, P.C.

Determining alimony is a complex process that requires careful consideration of various factors. At Sawin Law, P.C., our experienced alimony lawyers are dedicated to helping our clients navigate this process. We take the time to understand your unique circumstances and provide comprehensive guidance tailored to your needs.

Our commitment is to ensure that you clearly understand your rights and options when it comes to alimony. We will work tirelessly to ensure that the alimony arrangement you receive is fair and just.

If you are dealing with a divorce and are concerned about alimony, please get in touch with us. Call our Norwell offices at (781) 713-1212 to learn more about how we can help you navigate the complexities of alimony in your particular case. At Sawin Law, P.C., we help you explore options and secure your financial future.

A Closer Look at Alimony: What Factors Influence the Court’s Decision in Massachusetts?

alimony in Massachusetts

In any divorce proceeding, alimony – or spousal support – often becomes a significant point of contention. Understanding how alimony is determined can be critical for both parties involved in a divorce. This article will explore the factors influencing the court’s decision on alimony in Massachusetts.

What is Alimony?

Alimony, or spousal support, is a monetary payment one spouse provides to the other during or after a divorce. The purpose of alimony is to limit any unfair economic effects by allowing a lower-wage or non-wage-earning spouse to continue living the lifestyle enjoyed during the marriage.

Factors That Influence Alimony in Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Alimony Reform Act of 2011 provides comprehensive guidelines that courts consider when determining alimony. These guidelines consider various factors, including the length of the marriage, the financial needs and resources of each party, the age and health of the parties, the standard of living during the marriage, and any other relevant circumstances. Considering these factors, the Act aims to ensure fair and equitable decisions regarding alimony arrangements.

Length of the Marriage

The duration of the marriage is a significant factor in determining alimony. In general, longer marriages result in more substantial or longer-duration alimony payments. This is because the longer the couple has been together, the more they have likely intertwined their lives and finances. Additionally, longer marriages often involve greater economic interdependence, making it more necessary to provide financial support to the lower-earning spouse after divorce.

Economic and Non-economic Contributions

In divorce proceedings, the court carefully assesses and evaluates the financial and non-financial contributions made by each spouse throughout the marriage. These contributions encompass various aspects such as income generation, homemaking responsibilities, and the critical role of child care. By considering the comprehensive scope of these contributions, the court aims to ensure a fair and equitable distribution of assets and liabilities between the parties involved.

Age and Health of Both Parties

The age and health of each spouse can have a significant impact on the amount and duration of alimony awarded in a divorce settlement. Generally, older individuals or those with health issues may be more likely to receive a higher and longer-lasting alimony payment. This is because their ability to support themselves financially may be compromised due to factors such as limited job opportunities or increased medical expenses. Therefore, considering these circumstances becomes crucial in determining a fair and equitable alimony arrangement.

Employment and Employability

During the divorce proceedings, the court thoroughly evaluates various factors to determine the appropriate allocation of financial support. This includes carefully examining each spouse’s employment status, income capacity, and employability. When one spouse has been out of the workforce for a significant period, the court may consider awarding alimony to provide the necessary time and resources for job training or education, ensuring a smooth transition toward financial independence and stability.

Lifestyle During the Marriage

The standard of living established during the marriage is a crucial factor in determining alimony. It considers various aspects such as the couple’s housing, educational expenses, healthcare costs, and overall lifestyle. The purpose of alimony is to ensure that both spouses can maintain a comparable standard of living even after the divorce, helping them transition smoothly into their post-marital lives.

Other Factors

Other factors to consider in a divorce include the loss of economic opportunity for one or both parties due to the marriage, such as career sacrifices or limitations. Additionally, tax considerations play a role in the financial implications of divorce, as different filing statuses and deductions may apply. Furthermore, the ability of each party to maintain the marital lifestyle post-divorce can impact the distribution of assets and spousal support arrangements.

While this informative article provides a helpful overview of alimony determinations, it’s essential to acknowledge the inherent complexity of such matters. The specific details of each case play a pivotal role in shaping the outcome. That’s why, if you face a divorce and are dealing with alimony-related concerns, it is highly advisable to seek professional legal advice. At Sawin Law, P.C., our team of experienced attorneys possesses the expertise to navigate these challenging times with you. We are committed to ensuring that your rights and interests are protected throughout the process, providing you with the guidance and support you need.

Contact Sawin Law, P.C. today to schedule your free 30-minute consultation with our experienced legal team. Call us at (781) 713-1212 and let us provide expert guidance and personalized advice tailored to your specific needs. Take the first step towards resolving your legal matters with confidence.

Alimony and Illness: What You Need to Know

alimony and illness

While the end of a marriage often brings closure, the financial ties between spouses can sometimes last much longer. In cases where one spouse requires ongoing financial support, alimony payments may continue after a divorce. However, it may be a surprise that these payments could still be in effect even if the receiving spouse becomes ill or disabled. Depending on the circumstances, an ex-spouse’s illness or disability could result in an indefinite extension of alimony payments. This can be especially challenging for the paying spouse, who may already be dealing with the added expenses and emotional strain of a divorce. It is important for individuals going through a divorce to understand and plan for any potential long-term financial obligations fully. With careful consideration and communication, both parties can prepare for any unexpected events that may arise in the future.

What is Alimony?

Alimony is a financial support payment one spouse makes to the other after a divorce. In most cases, the payments are made until the receiving spouse can become self-sufficient. However, there are some circumstances where alimony payments may be extended, such as when the receiving spouse is dealing with an illness.

How is Alimony Paid?

Alimony payments are usually made monthly and continue until the receiving spouse can support themselves financially. The court will consider a few different factors when determining whether or not to award alimony, such as the length of the marriage, each spouse’s earnings and abilities, and any custody arrangements.

In most cases, alimony payments will cease if the receiving spouse gets remarried or begins living with a new partner. However, there are some circumstances where the payments may be extended. For example, if the receiving spouse is dealing with an illness that prevents them from working, the court may order the payments to continue for longer. Alternatively, if the couple has young children, the court may order one spouse to pay alimony until the children are grown up and no longer need financial support.

If you’re dealing with a divorce and think you might be entitled to alimony payments, it’s essential to speak to an experienced family law attorney who can help you understand your rights and options. Call Sawin Law, P.C. at (781) 713-1212 to discuss your case with our team.

Will Alimony Payments Be Extended if I Become Ill?

In most cases, alimony payments are not indefinite. However, in some cases, such as if the recipient becomes ill, the payments may be extended. If you become sick and cannot work, you may petition the court to extend your alimony payments. The court will consider many factors, including the severity of your illness, prognosis, and ability to pay for medical treatment. The court may extend your alimony payments if you can prove that your illness has prevented you from gainful employment. However, if your illness is not severe or expected to last long, the court may deny your request for an extension. Ultimately, each case is decided on its merits, and the court’s final decision is final.

The court typically orders alimony payments at the time of divorce. If you become ill after the divorce is finalized, you will not automatically be entitled to an increase in alimony payments. However, you may be able to modify your alimony agreement if you can demonstrate that your illness has significantly decreased your earning capacity. For example, if you cannot work or must take a reduced salary due to your illness, you may be able to argue for an increase in alimony successfully. Please contact our office if you have any questions about your rights or obligations regarding alimony. We would be happy to help you through this challenging time in your life.

Alimony And Child Support Changes – Cavanagh v. Cavanagh (2022)

alimony child support agreement

Last year, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) made a landmark ruling in Cavanagh v. Cavanagh (2022) that will majorly impact common practices in the Probate and Family Court. This post will delve into some key takeaways from the decision and explore how they might impact cases moving forward.

One of the most significant changes brought about by the Cavanagh decision is the SJC’s mandate that probate court judges consider and calculate concurrent orders for both alimony and child support in every case where both are applicable. This is a significant departure from the standard practice following the passage of the Alimony Reform Act in 2011, in which it was typical for judges only to award either alimony or child support, but not both, when both parties’ incomes fall within the Child Support Guidelines. The reasoning behind this practice was that the Alimony Reform Act disfavored paying alimony and child support simultaneously. Most judges applied this language accordingly.

However, in 2021, the Appeals Court began to challenge this practice in Calvin C. v. Amelia A. (2021), where it offered support for concurrent orders for alimony and child support. With the Cavanagh decision, the SJC has opened the door to concurrent support, requiring probate court judges to consider and calculate it in every case where child support and alimony are available.

This major shift will likely lead to more simultaneous alimony and child support orders in the Probate and Family Court. But it’s not the only significant change brought about by the Cavanagh decision. The SJC has also ruled for the first time that employer 401K matches and pretax contributions to healthcare accounts must be considered income when calculating child support. While it could be more apparent if this ruling applies to alimony cases, it’s something to be aware of if you’re involved in a child support case.

In addition to these changes, the SJC has also changed the definition of income in the context of both child support and alimony. Specifically, the court has ruled that a party’s interests, dividends, and capital gains (unless resulting from real and personal property transactions) must be included in their income for child support purposes. It’s still being determined if this ruling applies to alimony. This significant change will likely result in more income being considered in child support cases as it expands the definition of income beyond just wages and salary.

Finally, the SJC has taken a hard line on the scope of trial in the probate court, limiting it to the specific contested issues outlined in the pretrial order. In the Cavanagh case, the SJC found that the judge had abused their discretion by considering testimony outside of these issues. This move will likely reduce the broad scope of discretion and autonomy that judges in probate courts often enjoy, and potentially lead to more predictable and efficient trials in the future.

As you can see, the SJC’s ruling in Cavanagh v. Cavanagh could upend many standard practices in the Probate and Family Court. The Supreme Judicial Court’s recent decision on legal precedence can significantly impact many different areas of law. Understanding the implications of this decision is essential for anyone with legal matters pending or that might soon be facing them. If you want to learn more about how this ruling could affect your particular situation, contact Sawin Law, P.C., to speak with an experienced attorney and get clear answers about how this ruling may impact your case. Get the legal advice you deserve. Reach out to Sawin Law, P.C. at (781) 713-1212 for a free consultation and learn more about how we can help your case today!

Understanding Cohabitation’s Effect on Alimony


The Effect of Cohabitation on Alimony in Massachusetts

Understanding Which Actions Can Jeopardize Your Spousal Support Payments

Divorce often includes financial support from one spouse to another, called spousal support, or more commonly known as alimony. Spousal support can be extremely helpful in allowing the recipient spouse to continue living at or near the same lifestyle as once enjoyed during the marriage. However, these payments could be stopped for a variety of reasons, including cohabitation of the receiving spouse with another individual.

Cohabitation of the recipient spouse with another individual could be a recipe for disaster. If a “common household” is established for a continuous period of at least three months, the recipient spouse risks their alimony either being suspended or terminated.

While the term “common household” suggests that a couple is in either a romantic or marriage-like relationship, this does not necessarily have to be the case. Unless your separation agreement, also known as your divorce agreement, specifically allows for the recipient spouse to cohabitate with someone post-divorce, it is likely that such alimony payments will be suspended or terminated.

It is always wise to seek the advice of our experienced divorce and family law attorney if you are receiving spousal support and thinking of cohabitating with someone post-divorce. If you are concerned about your alimony eligibility, contact Sawin Law, P.C. for professional assistance.