How Do Judges Rule on Alimony?
Understanding Judge Methodology for Alimony Decisions
In Massachusetts, each spouse should be on equal footing and should be able to maintain the quality of life during the marriage, or both should have to make an adjustment. General term is the common form of alimony and can be terminated in cohabitation cases. Those paying alimony can have their expense tax deductible, while those receiving must report it as income.
Well if you want to know how judges rule on alimony, let’s 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. You should be able to maintain the quality of life and lifestyle you did during the marriage or to a point that both of you had to make some sort of an adjustment. Now, there are many types of alimony, but principally it’s general-term alimony in Massachusetts.
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. But 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 percent of the number of months you were married. Unless it gets over 20 years, it will never hit 100 percent like it used to.
Other issues of alimony include cohabitation by the recipient spouse — it’s a reason you could terminate alimony in Massachusetts.
You’re going to have 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 — we can subpoena them. Take a look at 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.
In alimony, you should understand the general rule of thumb is the spouse who is paying—the obligor—pays about 30 to 35 percent 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. The obligor, like we said, gets the tax benefit, and the recipient has to report that income.