When you get a divorce, you and your partner will need to make decisions about a variety of important items, which will eventually be put into your divorce settlement and be legally enforceable. In addition to addressing things like property division and child custody and support, you and your spouse will also need to consider the question of alimony. Here’s an overview of what you should know about alimony in Massachusetts, including how long an order for alimony may stay in effect—

When Is Alimony Part of a Divorce Settlement?

A family court in Massachusetts may order alimony in the event that one party to the marriage is financially dependent on the other and cannot meet their costs of living without the other’s financial support. That being said, there are a number of factors that a court will consider when determining the appropriateness of alimony, including things such as:

  • The length of the marriage
  • The age of the parties
  • The health of the parties, including any chronic illness
  • All sources of income
  • A party’s ability to support themselves
  • Any other factors the court deems relevant

For How Long Does Alimony Last?

Typically, an alimony award will be issued for a term that is reflective of the length of the marriage. As found in Massachusetts code, for marriages of five years or less, alimony can be required for up to 50 percent of the number of months of the marriage; for marriages of up to 10 years, this increases to 60 percent of the number of months; 70 percent for up to 15 years; 80 percent for up to 20 years; and no cap on the number of months of alimony for a marriage of 20 or more years. 

While the term limits below guide judges, there are certain circumstances where a judge may step outside of these guidelines and issue an alimony award for a longer or shorter duration. For example, if either party has a chronic illness, the parties lived together for a long time before the marriage, or the receiving party cannot support themselves without the alimony, the court may consider a different option. 

Note that alimony can also end early in the event that either spouse dies, the recipient spouse remarries or cohabitates with a romantic partner, or the paying spouse reaches full retirement age. 

Learn More About Alimony in Massachusetts

If you’re going through a divorce, it’s important that you have a full understanding of your legal opportunities and limitations. One of the best ways to learn more and to protect your rights is to consult with an experienced Massachusetts divorce lawyer. At the Law Office of Heather M. Ward, our experienced attorney is here to support you. To schedule a consultation, call (617) 903-8955 or fill out the intake form on our website.