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How long do alimony obligations last in Massachusetts?

If you were the breadwinner during your marriage, you’ll likely be required to pay spousal support after you divorce, especially if your spouse sacrificed their career to serve as a homemaker or is unable to work due to a disability. Your legal team – and the courts, if you litigate your divorce process – can help you arrive at a fair financial arrangement as part of your divorce settlement.

Alimony is meant to help your ex maintain the same standard of living that you both enjoyed during the marriage. How long are you expected to pay alimony to your ex? The length of time that you were married to your ex will directly influence the duration of alimony payments. The longer you were married, the more time your ex will likely need to adjust post-divorce.

Alimony in Massachusetts

The Bay State understands that alimony is a crucial part of a divorce settlement if one spouse lacks sufficient income post-divorce. However, there have been reforms to help ensure that alimony isn’t a lifelong financial obligation. The 2011 Alimony Reform Act created guidelines to help ensure that alimony arrangements are equitable and predictable. The reforms also encourage independence on the part of the low-earning spouse. The state has established three primary types of alimony awarded to low-earning spouses.

The first arrangement is the general term alimony, which is the simplest of the three. If you settle for this arrangement, the duration of the marriage significantly affects how long you will be required to make payments. For example, if the marriage lasted four years, alimony would be no more than two years. However, if you were together for more than 20 years, alimony may last for an indefinite period.

The second option is rehabilitative alimony, which is ideal if your spouse desires to re-enter the job market post-divorce. They’re supposed to use the payments to:

  • Further their education
  • Acquired vocational training
  • Gain work experience

You’ll be typically required to pay this form of alimony for roughly five years to help your ex become self-sufficient.

Suppose your spouse financed your college education and helped advance your career; you may be required to pay reimbursement alimony. This form of spousal support is less common and the court determines its duration based on your unique circumstances.

If you are worried that alimony would be a lifelong financial obligation, it can be a relief to realize that Massachusetts designs alimony to provide fair support while promoting financial independence for both spouses post-divorce. You can seek appropriate legal guidance to better understand how long you’ll be required to make alimony payments.