What is Alimony?

Alimony is court-ordered financial support paid by one spouse, who has the ability to pay, to the other spouse, who has established the need for support.  Either spouse can request alimony.

In Massachusetts, the length of time and the amount of alimony is something that must be determined by a Judge, unless the parties agree otherwise.  The current statute provides a calculation to help the Judge determine the correct amount of alimony, and provides guidelines as to the length of alimony, when found to be appropriate.  Ultimate discretion, however, lies with the Judge making the decision.

The statute identifies four different types of alimony: general term alimony, rehabilitative alimony, reimbursement alimony and transitional alimony.

General term alimony is simply the periodic payment of support to a recipient spouse who is economically dependent.  General term alimony ends once the recipient spouse remarries, or the death of either spouse.  It may be suspended, reduced or terminated once the recipient spouse lives with another person for at least 3 consecutive months.

Rehabilitative alimony is the periodic payment of support to someone who is expected to become self sufficient by a predicted time – such as reemployment or completion of job training.

Reimbursement alimony is support paid regularly or one-time after a marriage of not more than five years to make up for costs that the ex-spouse paid to help the paying spouse. For example, if your spouse supported you while you completed your education, the judge may order you to reimburse your spouse.

Transitional alimony is the payment (either periodic or a one time lump sum payment) of support after a marriage of not more than five years to help transition the receiving spouse to adjust to a lifestyle post divorce, or to adjust to a change in location as a result of the divorce.

If you are considering filing for divorce, or for alimony, please contact Johnson, Sclafani & Moriarty for a free consultation to discuss your options.