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A beginner's guide to alimony in Massachusetts

Some people are not even aware that spousal support, also known as alimony, is awarded in some Massachusetts divorce settlements. Alimony is a financial stipend paid from one spouse to the other after a divorce leaves their financial situation unbalanced in comparison to their prior standard of living. If this sounds vague, that's because it is. Alimony, much like child support, is awarded on a case-by-case basis.

This means a family law judge has a lot of discretion when it comes to awarding, or denying, alimony during a divorce. When making a case for alimony, it is important to do a thorough financial analysis of both yourself and your divorcing spouse's financial situation as individuals versus as a married couple. If it begins to appear that one spouse has more financial and educational assets than the other spouse, alimony may be a part of the divorce settlement. Since marriage is a partnership, it is expected that each spouse contributed in different ways to the marriage.

For this exact reason, alimony exists to potentially be awarded in MA divorces. If one spouse was unable to complete college or rack up years of career experience, they will likely have a harder time achieving a higher earning potential in comparison to a spouse that has these things on their resume. Alimony is a way to 'level the playing field,' so to speak. Likely, the ill-equipped spouse gave up these personal gains in order to have children or look after a household, which are equally important factors in a marriage.

Whatever side you are on, the possibility of alimony being a part of your divorce settlement is out there. Get educated on the issue, because it's possible you and your spouse could be in disagreement about how or if alimony should be awarded. There are ways to find evidence in favor of your argument for or against alimony. This depends on the financial scenario you and your divorcing spouse are in at the time of a divorce.

Source: FindLaw, "Spousal Support (Alimony) Basics," Accessed October 10, 2016

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Claudette-Jean Girard, Attorney at Law
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