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How long can alimony last after a Massachusetts divorce?

Some people give up their careers, or at least prioritize their family, ahead of their jobs. It was once considered standard for women to do so, but more men now stay home to raise children or work part-time to take care of their families.

Regardless of the sex of the spouse, if someone has made sacrifices to support their family unit, they will likely worry about their ability to live independently after a divorce. Many lower-earning or dependent spouses feel trapped in marriages even when they are unhappy or discover that their spouse has been unfaithful. They believe that they have no option but to remain in the marriage because their current earning potential is so low.

Alimony exists in part to help people bridge the gap between their current financial situation and future financial independence. People can request payments from their spouse after a divorce to help them cover their cost of living expenses.

Marriage duration determines alimony duration

Some spouses reach an agreement where one spouse will pay the other alimony for a set amount of time. However, many couples do not agree on alimony and require a judge’s intervention. When a judge determines how long someone receives alimony, one of the main considerations will be how long the marriage lasted.

Shorter marriages generally lead to shorter alimony orders. Someone married for less than five years can receive alimony for half the length of the marriage in months. A marriage that lasts between five and 10 years can lead to someone receiving alimony for 60% of the months that the marriage lasted. That increases to 70% of the months the marriage lasted for those married between 10 and 15 years. Someone can receive alimony for up to 80% of the duration of their marriage if they remain married for between 15 and 20 years. Those married for more than 20 years may qualify for indefinite alimony payments.

Alimony rules consider, among other things, any impact of someone’s career sacrifices on their long-term earning potential and economic stability to make the final outcome of the divorce as fair as possible given the circumstances of the marriage. Learning about what someone can expect for financial support after a Massachusetts divorce can potentially help people feel a bit more confident about making a transition from married to single life.