Massachusetts Family Law Attorneys
How Do Judges Rule on Alimony?

How Do Judges Rule on Alimony?

Understanding Judge Methodology for Alimony Decisions

If you want to know how judges rule on alimony, we need to first talk about the law in Massachusetts. Generally, each spouse should be on equal footing—meaning one spouse shouldn’t live in a castle and the other living in a hovel. Each spouse should have the support they need to be able to maintain the quality of life and lifestyle they did during the marriage or to a point that both of them had to make some sort of an adjustment.

In the past, judges couldn’t terminate alimony. If you were married five or eight years, you could be locked in to pay alimony for life. However, now there are guidelines. For example, if you’re married less than five years, you pay half the number of months of your marriage of alimony. If you’re married 5 to 10 years, you pay 60% of the number of months you were married. Unless it gets over 20 years, it will never hit 100% like it used to.

In alimony, you should understand the general rule of thumb is that the spouse who is paying—the obligor—pays about 30 to 35% of the difference between the two parties and their incomes. For example, if one spouse is earning $100,000 a year and the other spouse is earning $50,000 a year, it’s safe to say that $16,000 a year—or about $1,350 a month—might be your alimony obligation. However, the person who pays alimony, it is tax deductible, so it’s a write off. The person who receives alimony has to report it as income. Overtime and second jobs aren’t always included.

How Cohabitation Affects Cases of Alimony

Other issues of alimony include cohabitation by the recipient spouse, which is a reason you could terminate alimony. In these situations, you will need to look at bank statements, tax returns, and credit information. You should think about social media if you’re trying to prove cohabitation. Are there pictures of this new friend at birthday parties, graduations or holidays? Take a look at airline records and hotel reward programs and time stamps that show where this “cohabitating friend” has been, with whom, and for how long. We also have talked about the garage is great storage for a friend who may not have a legitimate residence—and that would be clear evidence to prove in your cohabitation case.

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