Person counting money

Massachusetts recently made broad-sweeping changes to its laws concerning alimony, which changes have been hailed as a model for how the legal system should adapt to an age where both spouses commonly work to financially support their families.  If you are going through a divorce and may be eligible to receive alimony or may have to pay alimony, you need to understand the changes to the law and how this will impact you.  You also need to invest in legal assistance from an experienced attorney who will protect your rights and financial future. The Law Office of Rosemary Purtell can evaluate your situation, explain what you may have to pay or expect to receive, and fight to ensure fairness during the process.

Types of Alimony

Alimony is not a guaranteed part of a divorce and it is not gender focused. There are four different types of alimony in Massachusetts:

  • General Alimony — paid monthly for a set period of time based generally upon the length of the marriage.
  • Rehabilitative Alimony — a periodic form of alimony, usually paid monthly or weekly, for the short term.  The payments do not exceed five years and is usually granted when the recipient is expected to become self-supporting by a specific time.
  • Reimbursement Alimony — also short-term and usually granted in marriages of less than five years.  This type of alimony may be periodic or it may be a one-time payment.  Its purpose is to compensate the recipient for his/her contributions during the marriage to the increased financial resources of the party paying the alimony.  An example would be when the recipient has paid for the education of the payor spouse.
  • Transitional Alimony — also for short-term marriages of less than five years.  It may be paid periodically for not more than three years or paid in a lump sum.  This alimony is paid to help the recipient adjust to a change in lifestyle or location as a result of the divorce.

Alimony Terms & Conditions

Despite these guidelines, a judge has the discretion to order indefinite alimony for marriages lasting more than 20 years. For marriages lasting less than 20 years, the general alimony guidelines are as follows:

  • Marriage less than 5 years — alimony can be ordered paid for not more than 50% of the number of months the marriage lasted.
  • Marriage 5 to 10 years — alimony can be ordered for not more than 60% of the months the marriage lasted
  • Marriage 10 to 15 years — alimony can be ordered for not more than 70% of the months the marriage lasted
  • Marriage 15 to 20 years — alimony can be ordered for not more than 80% of the months the marriage lasted
  • For a marriage over twenty years, the Court has the discretion to order indefinite alimony; however, that alimony is expected to end upon the date of the payor’s full retirement age as defined by the Social Security Administration.

If the recipient spouse remarries, alimony terminates.  If the recipient lives in a common household with a partner for more than 3 months (“cohabitation”) the alimony may be suspended, reduced or terminated.

An attorney with experience and knowledge of the new laws is essential in properly representing you on alimony issues.   Alimony can greatly alter each party’s financial future. For some, receiving alimony may be the only way to continue a lifestyle similar to the one maintained during the marriage.  Without trusted legal support, you could be agreeing to alimony terms that are unfair and not in your best interests.

Experienced Alimony Attorney

Attorney Rosemary Purtell understands the Massachusetts Alimony Reform Act of 2011.  She will invest the time and energy into determining what is a fair alimony award, whether you are the payor or the recipient. . The divorce process is difficult, emotionally draining, and can be time-consuming. Attorney Purtell will ensure a timely resolution and dedicate the resources needed to get the best possible outcome for your case now and in the future.