How Long Do I Have to Pay Alimony?
General term alimony is the concept in Massachusetts. 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. Alimony is meant to allow both spousal parties to exist on even footing. As such, there is no one period of time that works for everyone and is rather based on circumstances.
Here’s a sensitive question people want to know: “How long am I going to have to pay alimony?”
When we’re representing the obligor (the person who pays), we try to refer to alimony as spousal support. When we’re representing the person who receives it, we call it alimony. They’re the same thing.
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 concept. 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 percent 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 percent 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 footing — they should be able to have the 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 – which would not be a nice place to live.
Alimony is really meant for support.
There are 21 factors we talked about. Look for that worksheet that says Who Gets What. What we like to do is tell a story. We put each of the factors out there and tell a story of your marriage because it’s an equitable distribution not guaranteed to be equal. If we can squeeze the facts from you and show that you put in more than your spouse as far as growth of the marital estate, handling things around the house, you might get more.