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Divorce FAQ

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How Long Do I Have to Pay Alimony?

Determining the Length of Your Alimony Payments

In Massachusetts, general term alimony is a concept. The law gives the courts guidance and is tiered by the time you have been married. It is based on one’s ability and need to pay. In alimony, there is no one period of time that works for everyone, it is based on circumstances.

Types of Alimony in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, general term alimony is the most common type. There’s rehabilitative alimony, which is for short-term periods until the recipient spouse is expected to be self-sufficient, but general term alimony is the most well-known type. That’s really what we’re focused on. In the old days, if you were paying alimony, it went on forever because there was no change of circumstances for it to terminate.

Now, the law gives the court more guidance. It’s tiered by the number of years that you’ve been married. For example, if you have been married for less than 5 years, you pay alimony for 50% of the number of months that you’ve been married. If you have been married 5 to 10 years, you’re going to pay for 60% of the time that you were married. Alimony is typically based on one’s ability to pay and one’s needs.

The court’s goal is to put both spouses on equal stance—they should be able to have the same lifestyle they may have had while they were married. One spouse shouldn’t be able to live in a castle and the other a hovel. Alimony is really meant for support.

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