What is alimony?

Alimony is a legal agreement between two spouses involving financial payments from one to the other in the event of a divorce.

Who has to pay alimony?

Who pays alimony is determined by the court.  It is paid when incomes between the divorced spouses is substantially different.  Alimony is not based on gender, but instead based on the findings that one spouse has a need for alimony support while the other party has the means to pay.

I think my spouse is working “under the table.” What should I do?

Cash income or unreported income is often extremely challenging to identify and locate.  A knowledgeable lawyer works to uncover and locate these funds which, in turn, have a significant impact on the outcome of the amount of alimony awarded or paid out.

My ex-spouse won’t get a job. What should I do?

The court can issue an order to a spouse receiving alimony to seek work.  Should the court find the spouse is not attempting to find work, it can be used as a factor to modify or change the duration and/or amount of alimony received.

How long will I have to pay alimony?

In Massachusetts, the duration of alimony payments varies based upon the length of the marriage.  The law determines the extent of alimony giving the judge discretion to deviate from the general rules in special circumstances.

How do I ask the court for alimony?

Two types of situations exist in which you can request alimony support:

  • Complaint for Divorce – for married couples
  • Complaint for Separate Support – for married couples who are not ready to file for divorce, but wish to live separately.

How do I change the amount of alimony I pay or receive?

Should a substantial change in your circumstances arise, you can file a Complaint for Modification.

What if I can’t afford to pay the alimony I was ordered to pay?

A Complaint for Modification is necessary if you are not able to pay alimony support.  Courts vigorously support and enforce any alimony orders that have been made though the will consider a loss or change of income when the Complaint for Modification is filed.

What type of income is included in the alimony calculation?

Every possible type of income is taken into account when calculating alimony.  Earned wages, commissions, bonuses, tips, gambling income, lottery winnings, dividends, insurance payouts, and capital games are all reviewed by the court.

Does my ex have to provide his/her income information to me?

A spouse is not expected to provide financial information until a case has been filed and served.  At that point, the spouse must produce all financial information requested by the other party.

Are child support and alimony related?

Child support and alimony are calculated differently due to the differing purposes these two issues serve.  However, often, overlap exists between the two.  A court can award percentage of the income for child support and the remainder for alimony.  Yet, the court will not issue an order for alimony and child support to be paid on the same income.

When does alimony end?

If any of the below criteria is met, alimony may end when:

  • The duration of alimony based on the length of the marriage has been met
  • The spouse receiving alimony payments remarries or cohabitates with another person
  • The spouse paying alimony retires at the normal retirement age (generally 67)
  • A considerable change in circumstance occurs for either spouse.

Can I handle the alimony aspects of my case on my own?

Absolutely, you can handle your own case.  However, if not presented correctly, the final outcome ordered by the judge cannot be changed unless a substantial change in circumstance transpires.  It is recommended you confer with a competent attorney so that you don’t risk paying or receiving too much or too little in alimony.