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Alimony factors in Massachusetts divorce cases

Courts in each state have their own guidelines for assigning alimony when couples cannot reach a divorce agreement on their own. In Massachusetts, the court will look at a range of factors, from the length of a marriage to whether each party has health insurance. Alimony will not always be part of a divorce settlement and spouses should understand what will influence a court's decision to best prepare for the decision.

The basic factors courts look at in addition to how long a couple was married include the age and general health of each party, their income sources and employment status, job training and skills, current assets and liabilities, financial need and whether any marital misconduct occurred. These considerations give courts an overview of each party's ability to be self-sufficient, their contributions to the marriage and what they might need to maintain their standard of living. Both the needs of the spouse seeking alimony and the ability of the other spouse to pay it will be taken into account.

Specifically, courts might consider what one spouse gave up and did to assist their husband or wife gain the education or skills necessary for their employment. Who contributed what in obtaining marital assets will be considered, which might include things like working to put a spouse through college or taking care of children while a spouse earned income. Employer-provided health insurance will not typically cover a former spouse of the employee, so courts might order the higher-earning party to cover the costs of insurance for their husband or wife.

Divorcing couples might be able to spare themselves a trip to court by using mediation to reach a fair settlement. If mediation is not a viable alternative, then a divorce attorney can attempt to help a client in other ways, including negotiation of a settlement agreement with the other party's attorney.

Source: Divorce Support, "Massachusetts Spousal Support/Maintenance/Alimony Factors", September 23, 2014

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