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Oct 5, 2020 | Family Law

Alimony in Massachusetts with Attorney Erin Nielson


Often the question of alimony arises during the initial meeting with our client.  Will I have to pay alimony? Can I receive alimony? How much will I have to pay or how much will I receive? Alimony has changed drastically in Massachusetts since the passage of the Alimony Reform Act in 2011.  To learn more about alimony watch the video below with Attorney Erin Nielson of Wilchins Cosentino & Novins. This quick three minute video addresses the above questions and more.

What is alimony?

  • Alimony is the regular, periodic payment of support from one spouse to another after a divorce or while a divorce is pending.
  • Alimony is NOT the same as child support.  For the vast majority of families, if there is going to be a child support order, there will not also be an alimony order on top of it.
  • Alimony also is NOT the same as the division of property. A spouse might receive a cash asset, such as a stock account, but still be entitled to alimony.

Is alimony mandatory?

In some situations, alimony will be required.  But it’s not for every divorcing couple, and changes in the law have made it less  common that it used to be.

What does a typical alimony case look like?

A typical alimony case involves the following:

  • a couple with adult children or no children
  • with a significant difference in income but with both enough income to pay alimony, AND a need for the financial support

Who probably won’t have to pay alimony?

  • Short term marriages
  • Couples with children who are entitled to financial support where the parents are earning collectively less than 250k
  • People over the social security retirement age who have actually retired

How much alimony will I have to pay, or how much will I get?

By statute in Massachusetts, an alimony order should be in the range of 30-35% of the difference between the spouse’s gross income.

BUT recent changes in the Federal tax law regarding the deductibility  of new alimony orders means that courts are sometimes issuing orders lower than 30%.

How long will I have to pay? Or, can my Alimony order be changed?

The length of time an alimony order will be in place will vary based on a number of factors – most importantly, the duration of the marriage.  This is why, if you are likely to be the payor, it is not wise to delay filing for divorce if you have separated from your spouse and unlikely to reconcile.

Alimony may be modified – up or down – based on a material change in circumstance for either party.

If you should have any questions about Alimony in Massachusetts, please reach out to the experienced family law attorneys at Wilchins Cosentino & Novins LLP at 781-235-5500 or schedule a phone call here.

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