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Alimony, property division and health insurance

Massachusetts laws specifically address property division and spousal support when a couple divorces. Instead of alimony, the judge might decide that one party should receive more assets when the marriage ends. The courts will consider not only real estate and personal property but retirement benefits, pension, deferred compensation and profit-sharing plans as well as insurance benefits.

When the court reviews the evidence in deciding alimony in the divorce proceeding, it will take into account numerous factors, such as the length of the marriage, the actions of each person, their health, work status, earnings, ages, skills, education, assets and liabilities. When making a property division determination, it will consider the needs of any minor children. The court can also review the contributions each person made to the marriage, including the role of either spouse as a caretaker for the children and of the home.

If a party has employer-provided health insurance, the court will review if the spouse could also be covered under the same plan. In addition, it will consider the cost of said insurance. The judge might order the covered party to arrange the other party to be added to the policy or to pay for private coverage for the other party. However, spousal support will not be lowered in order to compensate for these payments.

Couples sometimes disagree over the division of assets or spousal support payments when a marriage ends. They might specifically struggle working out the payment of health insurance so that both parties are protected. A family law attorney might help a client who needs to obtain health insurance work out an arrangement with the estranged spouse in order to receive coverage.

Source: The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, "Section 34Alimony or assignment of estate; determination of amount; health insurance", October 17, 2014

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