Spousal support is often granted upon separation or divorce of a Massachusetts couple and is separate from child support. Also known as alimony, it is funds provided to the lower-earning spouse by the higher earning partner to maintain the standard of living set when the couple lived together.
LiveAbout states that there are different categories of alimony and several factors that determine whether an individual receives spousal support and for how long.
- Temporary spousal support begins while the parties are separated and last until the finalization of the divorce. It helps to maintain the dependent spouse’s lifestyle until the couple reconciles or comes to an agreement regarding the settlement.
- Reimbursement alimony is when a spouse receives recompense for specific expenses incurred by the other, such as if one put the other through medical school. Payment may be a lump sum or over time.
- Rehabilitative spousal support helps the dependent spouse obtain the education, training or professional experience necessary for self-sufficiency. If one parent stays home with the couple’s small children, it may also last until the children begin school. This type of alimony typically has a fixed period.
- Permanent alimony continues from the divorce until the death of the payor or the recipient. It may also stop when the recipient re-marries, although not always.
The length of alimony also depends on the length of the marriage. According to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, for those married up to five years, the general alimony term is not more than half of the months of the marriage. If the length of marriage was between five and ten years, spousal support might continue up to 72 months. Alimony payments to the dependent spouse married 10 to 15 years will be no longer than 126 months and for 15 to 20 years, no longer than 192 months.
For those married more than ten years, with two similar incomes and pension plans, spousal support may be unnecessary. Individuals married more than 20 years with a dependent spouse may pay alimony indefinitely.