The court awards spousal support (alimony) during and after a divorce. In Massachusetts, judges often order one spouse to pay alimony until the other can become financially independent.
Learn about spousal support if you live in Massachusetts and face a divorce.
Types of alimony
Massachusetts has four kinds of alimony:
- A general term, which requires the requesting spouse to demonstrate financial need
- Rehabilitative, which offers a bridge to financial independence
- Reimbursement, which provides repayment for funds contributed to the other spouse’s career or educational advancement
- Transitional support, which allows the lower-earning spouse to adjust to life outside marriage.
The state limits transitional and reimbursement support to marriages ending within five years.
Alimony laws are gender-neutral in Massachusetts. The requesting spouse demonstrates a need for financial support and must show that the other spouse can pay.
The judge considers the length of the marriage and any other pertinent information provided by you or your spouse during the proceedings. Judges have broad discretion when deciding alimony.
The duration of alimony payments depends on the length of the marriage. If the marriage lasts less than 20 years, specific rules apply. For marriages longer than 20 years, the court can award lifetime support.
General term alimony ends when the supported spouse marries, cohabitates or dies. Rehabilitative alimony is for 5 years and also ends upon remarriage or death. Reimbursement alimony expires upon death or the date specified by the judge in your case. Transitional alimony lasts no longer than 3 years and expires upon death.
The court can modify general term and rehabilitative alimony if either person can demonstrate that circumstances have changed since the original order.